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why does eating turkey make me sleepy

"When is the last time someone ate a chicken at a summertime barbecue and thought they felt sluggish [because of it]? " she asks. Turkey is, indeed, a good source of tryptophan. Still, it's a myth that eating foods high in tryptophan boosts
levels of tryptophan and therefore levels of serotonin, Somer says. Somer says that proteins like turkey, chicken, and fish, which are high in tryptophan, require assistance from foods high in carbohydrates to affect serotonin levels. "Tryptophan is quite high in milk and turkey, but that's not the food that will give you the serotonin boost," she says. It's a small, all-carbohydrate snack -- no more than 30 grams of carbohydrates -- in combination with the tryptophan stored in your body from food you've already eaten that will give you the biggest boost of serotonin, Somer says. A serotonin-boosting snack may include a few Fig Newtons, half of a small whole wheat bagel with honey drizzled over it, or a few cups of air-popped popcorn some time after you've eaten foods high in tryptophan. "Research shows that a light, 30 gram carbohydrate snack just before bed will actually help you better," Somer says.

When you eat foods rich in tryptophan, as the food digests, amino acids - not just tryptophan - make their way into the bloodstream. This causes competition among the various amino acids to enter the. "Tryptophan, which is a bulky amino acid, would have to stand in line to get through the -brain barrier with a whole bunch of amino acids," Somer says. "It would be like standing in line when the Harry Potter movie comes out and you didn't get in line early enough. The chances of getting in [to see the movie] are pretty slim. That's what happens when you eat a protein-rich food. Tryptophan has to compete with all these other amino acids. It waits in line to get through the -brain barrier and very little of it makes it across. " The small, all-carbohydrate snack is tryptophan's ticket across the blood-brain barrier, where it can boost serotonin levels. So have your turkey, Somer says, because it will increase your store of tryptophan in the body, but count on the carbohydrates to help give you the mood boost or the restful sleep. "It's the all-carb snack that ends up being like a sneak preview of the [Harry Potter] movie, where no one else knows it's showing," she says.

Contrary to popular belief, eating turkey isn t the main reason you feel sleepy after a Thanksgiving feast. The oft-repeated stems from the fact that turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which forms the basis of brain chemicals that make people tired. But turkey isn t any more sleep-inducing than other foods. In fact, consuming large amounts of carbohydrates and alcohol may be the real cause of a post-Thanksgiving-meal snooze, experts say. Tryptophan is a component of the brain chemical serotonin, which gets converted into the well-known sleep-inducing hormone. Poultry and many other foods also contain tryptophan, in similar amounts to that found in turkey. Gram for gram, cheddar cheese actually contains more tryptophan than turkey does. [ But tryptophan competes with all of the body s other amino acids to enter the brain, through a strict gatekeeper known as the blood-brain barrier. It s the heaps of carbohydrates the stuffing, potatoes and yams smothered in marshmallows that are the true problem, according to medical experts.

Consuming carbs triggers the release of insulin, which removes most amino acids from the blood, but not tryptophan that dearth of competitors allows tryptophan to enter the brain and form serotonin and, ultimately, melatonin. (Melatonin can also be produced in the intestine, and a small amount of that may ultimately leak out into the bloodstream and end up in the brain, too. ) Basically, any big meal containing tryptophan and lots of carbohydrates can trigger sleepiness not just. And on Thanksgiving, many other factors contribute to feelings of tiredness, such as drinking alcohol. The holidays are also a time when people often take a break from their hard work. When consumed on an empty stomach, tryptophan can lead to serotonin production and more vivid dreams. Tryptophan supplements were a popular sleep aid in the 1980s, but the U. S. Food and Drug Administration banned them in 1991, citing a link with an outbreak of the autoimmune disease eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome although the link is controversial. Follow Tanya Lewis on and Google+. Follow us @livescience, Google+. Original article on.

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