With turkey season comes the feasts - a bubbling cocktail of stuffing, pies, and savory treats from every family member. And while every year people wonder what foods they should eat first, there is one thing that is for certain - the food coma that follows. Let's be honest, if your Thanksgiving meal didn't knock you out for a few z's, was it really a Thanksgiving meal? However, there is an age long discussion that it isn't just the amount of food you eat that makes you drowsy but the special item that is served - turkey.
The magic component in turkey that is rumored to cause sleepiness is called tryptophan. It is one of twenty amino acids which are molecules that link together to create protein. However, aside from being a part of protein synthesis, tryptophan is also used to make the neurotransmitter serotonin. You might be familiar with serotonin since it is one of the neurotransmitters that contribute to happiness but it also helps with sleep.
So will eating turkey increase your serotonin levels? Well as it turns out - maybe not. For tryptophan to get to the brain it must rely on certain receptors. However, these receptors help many other amino acids into the brain and is not exclusive to just tryptophan. After a meal full of all other 19 amino acids, the amount of tryptophan that goes to the brain is not significantly increased in comparison to normal. In the end, eating turkey does not make you sleepy.
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