Turkey and Tryptophan: Thanksgiving Myth Debunked
ƵƵƶƶ Why do we feel sleepy after a big meal? You’ve probably blamed the Thanksgiving turkey for having too much tryptophan, an amino acid that the body converts to serotonin and melatonin, two sleep-inducing compounds. But it turns out that tryptophan has to be consumed on an empty stomach and not with gourmandish excess of cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie, to be effectively blamed for your soporific state. Did you know that even oat bran and soybeans contain more tryptophan than turkey? Check out this infographic ▶ http://goo.gl/pQtLTp .
ƵƵƶƶ Another popular theory is that after a big meal, our body diverts blood supply to the gut, and away from the brain, to help digestion. While this seems logical, it turns out that cerebral blood flow and oxygenation are kept stable through autoregulation mechanisms even when blood flow to the gut or muscles increase after a meal or during exercise. Blood vessels in the brain expand or contract in response to changes in blood pressure to keep flow constant. Another myth debunked!
ƵƵƶƶ The most likely culprits are gut-brain hormones that regulate both feeding and sleep. Orexin is one such example: it promotes hunger and alertness, but is inhibited by gastric distention and satiety. The ability of hunger to promote alertness is thought to be an evolutionary adaptation that keeps us motivated to search for food. Interestingly, mutations in orexin were recently linked to narcolepsy, a pathological form of sleepiness. Finally, it has been argued that sleep allows for “cognitive reinforcement” of the circumstances that led to your energy acquisition, an important survival skill! So when postprandial somnolence hits you after your big Thanksgiving meal, you’re actually learning an age-old survival mechanism 🙂
Gif: Via http://www.reactiongifs.com/tag/sleepy/
Glad to read this article today! Thank you so much for sharing it. “Cognitive reinforcement” of the circumstances that led to your energy acquisition, an important survival skill! I love that phrasing!
Hehe, now you have an erudite excuse 😀
Awwww loving the gif 😀 a very informative and interesting read as always, Rajini! 🙂
Happy Thanksgiving! ❤
i enjoyed that
Kawthar A they are so cute..what about the little fellow stuffing his face in the back?! 🙂
He didn’t waste his time 😀 such kissable cheeks :*
used to think it was the blood supply!
A tasty kiss too, I can almost fill my tummy by kissing him 😛
hehehe..well played Rajini..well played :p
Thanks, you too Nutin Honie 🙂
Vasudevan Tirumurti I thought so too..in fact, in my last post we had a discussion about why we feel sleepy after a meal (with David Archer and Chad Haney ), and the blood supply theory seemed reasonable until I looked it up.
Glad to see a new generation that are totally in touch with the FSM.
One kid is more efficient than the other, I see… ^__^
arromazam pepe , lol. My friend Buddhini Samarasinghe will appreciate the comment.
Daniela Huguet Taylor your kids must have done this, no? 😀
As for me, I just fell asleep on the couch after dinner last night, watching my favorite Masterpiece Mystery. When I woke up, the mystery had been solved and I was none the wiser.
Happy Thanksgiving, Rajini Rao!
Marian Wirth thank you 🙂 Did you notice that I’m being more of a twit?
Rajini Rao thank you for the interesting post 🙂
Rajini Rao I know the feeling, happens to me a lot more now I’m older, and yes, kids too, hehe, but never as funny as these (my loss!). My brother on the other hand was fully capable of sleeping and eating (from a spoon) at the same time!
I think the main reason is that we have too many carbs — stuffing and mashed potatoes. I read that the stomach is like a second brain which may also cause the sleepy effects. The second brain is probably where they get the quote “gut feeling” from.
Who knew??! Mozzarella, cheddar and parmesan cheese made the list!! These are in my dishes almost everyday. Thanks for the interesting read Rajini Rao. Happy Thanksgiving!
Rajini Rao No, I didn’t. For me, you’re still the G+ star with a fan crowd the size of a German mid-size city 😀
Jim Gorycki , yes indeed! The enteric nervous system or “gut brain” has as many neurons as the spinal cord. The gut brain can influence our mood too and apparently most of our serotonin comes from here.
Susana M. I was really surprised by that infographic too. Happy thanksgiving to you too!
Ramen! Thanks for the tag Rajini! Will read the post when I get home – out celebrating at the moment! 🙂
Increased tryptophan/serotonin produces fatigue which is nothing but the catabolism of muscle proteins. Serotonin also increases ACTH and cortisol secretion and which continues, influences the rate of aging too! Tryptophan is the only aminoacidthat is also carciniogenic! 🙂
Thank you Rajini Rao
A perfect post for the Science bunch, so I had to share it.
May everyone have plenty of gastric distention and satiety on this day.
How interesting and I just love the blissful experience of the little child on the right Rajini Rao 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it, and happy thanksgiving to you too Gary Ray R 🙂
Rebecca Rippin the one on the right is a mother’s delight 🙂
But I think even the brain blood vessels forget to function when someone is falling in love 🙂
Thanks for making me smarter, Rajini Rao !
I guess science and sense goes out the window when one falls in love, R Prakash Prakash !
Jeff Jockisch happy thanksgiving (dinner and snooze, if you indulge).
Great post, following the previous discussion. Immaculate timing:-)
Lol!! Rajini Rao
Nick James I’m glad you remembered that conversation from the BAT post 🙂
Great post, Rajini Rao. As a brief note on the blood flow concept: there may still be something to it, just not with regards to low flow to the brain (which, of course, is tightly regulated). The increased flow to gastrointestinal structures is associated with an increase in parasympathetic nervous system up-regulation (and concomitant reduction of sympathetic firing to the GI arteries, which opens them up). Parasympathetic up-regulation tends to also fire up other “resting” physiology, which may include hormone responses. So, in a sense, options 2 and 3 may be coupled, just not via O2 movement to the brain.
Michael Habib , good points and thanks for the extra details on how blood flow to the GI is increased after a meal. Also in the case of exercise, there is increased blood flow to the muscles but again, cerebral blood flow stays the same.
Rajini Rao BAT…mostly famous for guano:-)
Excellent point, Rajini Rao. Key differences in how the CNS and PNS are treated with regards to blood flow. I did a post on viscerosensory and autonomic nerves a little while back if any of your readers are curious. 🙂 Cheers!
Here’s the link to Michael Habib ‘s post explaining how the “gut brain” and the nervous system develops, paired with a beautiful image: http://goo.gl/pH2Gua
Gracias, maribel amador 🙂
Very interesting post Rajini Rao and I’m sure many people will be practicing their survival skills today 😀
Buddhini Samarasinghe I’m going to be gif-worthy soon (still cooking)…I already have a strong tendency to fall asleep after eating 😉
Rajini Rao Haha! Pics or it didn’t happen 😛 I miss being in the US during Thanksgiving time, even though I didn’t have family there I always got invited to lab stuff and got lots of yummy food as a result!
I always thought the tryptophan explanation sounded a little silly. I’ll be sharing those links with my folks next time they blame tryptophan. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving Rajini Rao!!
Thanks! Great read as always.
Hahahsha hahahahaha….my little brother at suppertime …his head would be bobbing an jerking around and then ..pop…his head went down into his plate of food… face covered..as children , we laughed hysterically. …we still tease “tiffy” him about those times.Hahahahahaha. .:-D:-D:-D:-D:-D
They must be sleepy
I don’t have thanks giving its a light salad only as just me and the dog ,I don’t like turkey , HAve a good one. All
try explaining tryptophan to my mom!! She’ll still think I’m giving off excuses!!
Good one. Thanks for sharing Rajini Rao. 🙂
Rajini Rao thanks for the post, love the kid on the right, he has just positioned himself for sleep eating, he has even cut the nodding stage out…. Now that’s adaptation lol
i allways read ur knowldgable post good luck nd keep this pace allways
I hope I can explain to my friends the same way it was posted, hopefully…
“You get sleepy…because… you.. eat something, that’s contained in turket..yeh 😕
Great post Rajini Rao
great idea 🙂
awww.this cutie again :* :*
Haha, hello there Kawthar A 🙂
Morning, Rajini! 🙂
Good afternoon, Kawthar A ! Nothing like a cup of coffee to recover from the excesses of Thanksgiving dinner. No turkey for me though, just stuffed, spiced whole cauliflower 🙂
Yummy! no leftovers!? leftovers are my best part of the holidays dinner 😀
I’m just done with lunch, I had few homemade potatoes pastry, they were Devine :p
Thanks for clearing that up, Rajini Rao. Hope you had a nice holiday.
Excellent, thank you Gideon Rosenblatt. A no-stress day with the family.
🙂 Another fine, interesting post Rajini Rao I hope you had a nice day.
They are far too cute!
Azlin Bloor you found me out! The science was just an excuse to post this cute gif 🙂
Cheryl Ann MacDonald , thanks- I had a nice relaxing day which is stretching out into the weekend. Hope you had a good thanksgiving day too.
Same here Rajini Rao and I am staying away from the shopping crowds today 🙂 Call me antisocial. Take care.
Well, I had it on an empty stomach. I don’t care about sauce, fillings, and silly things like that. I shoot straight for meat. 🙂 But great information!
Panah Rad so you’re not the one on the right? He is going for the carbs. 😀
Rajini Rao haha. funny 🙂
LOL! I need to learn more about orexin!
Haha, may be better than coffee in keeping us alert.
hahaha..what a bakar
So having a nice sized supper close to bedtime could pass as a sleeping aid? The French eat very late (compared to Americans), sometimes at 8PM, and they are known to have long lasting meals. Also, this post made me think of the ancients with their reclining on couches while eating.
I have heard often that eating close to bedtime causes an easier gain in weight. I somehow doubt that hypothesis.
My word of the day is Postprandial Somnolence Rajini Rao 🙂 Hope you had a lovely time with family and friends!
Indeed, I did – and succumb to some somnolence myself, Rama Drama . Hope you had some days off too!
I sure did. Tofurkey was butchered successfully in the home Rajini Rao 🙂
Haha, I let the turkey trot too Rama Drama !
This year I will see family but not for XMAS a funeral my uncle died yesterday so I don’t think anyone will be celebrating much except the kids ,it’s to commercial and I still get my folks a small gift each but the funeral I think is a bad time I think to give it to them ,unless my step daughter goes there to where they live and drops it off or I give to me sister at the funeral ,to give mum on XMAS week , what do you,s think ? DRS so I’d best move and eat or miss me bus . I’d rather a subway or a roast myself for XMAS .
Sorry to hear about your loss, Susan Gormley . A quiet dinner sounds good.
I didn’t have that
Wow! I never see that before.
I experience d same thing.
I use do it whn im child, To skip my dinner. lolzz..! 😀
Thanks but I have had XMAS now with the dog for two years now just the first without my stepdaughter will be harder this year ,I,ll be fine it’s me ex and other step daughter I’m worried about !!!
I wonder if blood sugar levels could also be a factor?
Most definitely, Donna Pezeshki . I should have made that clear, thanks for bring it up. Blood sugar elevation depresses the release of orexin. Also, insulin levels rise after a meal and that has several effects leading to sleepiness.
Rajini Rao In China, there is the ancient tradition of drinking during meals lukewarm tea, unsweetened of course, in order to make easier and faster the digestion.
Two herbal products, most effective in improving digestion, are papaya and pineapple, exceptional especially for proteins.
annarita ruberto , or just eat less 😉
Papaya and pineapple have proteases, papain and bromelain, that digest proteins.
Rajini Rao …eat less is always a good solution;)
Me I don’t feel hungry and that’s half the problem ,and when I do it’s a kids size plate but I was told by a dietitian 5 small meals a day I struggle with two a day and now have a no salt or sodium level in me body the water you drink to rid the. Sugar washes away the salt can’t win situation oh well find out out MONDAY another blood test and hope the pill one of three for b,p has given me back some salt as I don’t normally eat salt now I do hope for good news ,
maci cossa bella
Rajini Rao my people call it “the itis.” Lol.
Thanks for this very concise explanation. To be honest, I’d never really thought of this. Just always assumed that a full tummy(or just a glass of red wine ;)) was the recipe to falling asleep.
Tiffany Henry now you can send your family to sleep with the scientific explanation 😉
Lol Rajini Rao! Actually, they would all be interested to know this. Especially my Gram who does most of the cooking ^_^
I I think you should go to bed now. Do not worry eat!
Rajini Rao you are kidding me: THIS is a myth? >>> “after a big meal, our body diverts blood supply to the gut, and away from the brain, to help digestion. ” you are changing my life? so why tell the kids not to swim after lunch?
Probably for the adults to be able to rest and not have to watch out, and to convince the kiddos to have a nap.
Daniela Huguet Taylor i always thought: the blood goes to the gut, the brain gets less, you swim, blood goes to muscles, even less for the brain, you faint, you drown. now Rajini Rao says it’s all wrong
ils ont bien mangé
Waooo, give me the secret. Lol
Nasrin Rafiey ^﹏^
Omgsh that is soo cute
Quiero ver películas Quiero ver película de de narcos
Veeeeeeeeery nice phottos,my.D.Rajini Rao***