The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Community

November 19, 2012

Turkey tucker-out

Thanksgiving dinner make you sleepy? Blame L-Tryptophan

ANDERSON, Ind. — The turkey’s gone, the table’s been cleared and Dad, Uncle Ted, Aunt Edna and Grandpa are all nodding off watching games on TV.

So what’s to blame for this post-Thanksgiving aftermath? The turkey?

There might be some actual science behind that.

Turkey contains an essential amino acid called L-Tryptophan, which helps the body produce serotonin, said Jenny Martin, nutrition coordinator for Community Hospital Anderson. That serotonin is a building block for the hormone melotonin, which helps the body regulate its sleep and waking cycles.

Put simply, the L-Tryptophan in turkey helps your body decide when to go beddy-bye.

But turkey isn’t the only L-Tryptophan-laden food, nor does it have the highest levels.

“Spinach, eggs, soy and some types of fish contain much higher amounts, and many foods have at least some L-tryptophan in them,” Martin said.

So why do your eyelids droop after a turkey Thanksgiving dinner, but not usually after eating a Greek salad, omelet or tofu stir-fry?

Because the turkey’s got help.

“Thanksgiving dinner includes many carbohydrates: potatoes, breads, stuffing, pie, and alcohol,” said Dr. Michael Bailey, an assistant professor of biology at Anderson University.

Those carbohydrates raise insulin levels in the blood, he said in an e-mail, which “causes the transport of some amino acids into muscles but not tryptophan.”

Because there’s more L-Tryptophan in the blood but the muscles aren’t absorbing it, it goes to the brain.

But there are a lot of other factors that contribute to post-Thanksgiving dinner sleepiness, Bailey said.

For example, there’s the fact that Americans tend to overeat at Thanksgiving. And that might be an understatement.

The average adult consumes roughly 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat in one Thanksgiving sitting, according to the American Council on Exercise in 2004. To work that off, the average 160-pound person would have to walk about 30 miles.

“The mere process of digestion can be exhausting for the body,” Martin said. “So when we overeat, our body must work much harder to digest all of the extra calories consumed.  Don’t blame the turkey — blame the four plates of food and whole pie you just consumed.”

Then, of course, there’s alcohol. And maybe even the sense of calm that comes after the craziness of dinner-prep, Bailey said.

So how does one avoid dozing off during the holidays?

Simple: don’t overeat. Practice moderation and eat a balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits and veggies.

It also helps to “get exercise before, during and after the holiday season,” Martin said. “And resist the urge to take that after-meal nap we so want to take.”

But, if you do indulge a bit more than you should, Bailey said it might not be such a bad thing. That is, unless you’re “not helping your spouse clean up in the kitchen because you are sleeping on the couch with a football game playing on TV!”

“It may actually help if you plan to stand in line at midnight” for Black Friday doorbusters, he said. “At least you got some sleep before shopping!”

Find Baylee Pulliam on Facebook and @BayleeNPulliam on Twitter, or call 648-4250.

1
Text Only
Community
  • NWS - HB0425 - garfinkel exhibit - 02 Center for the Arts opens vibrant exhibit

    A layover in Japan more than three decades ago changed the course of New York-based artist Gloria Garfinkel’s work for the rest of her life. The Anderson Center for the Arts opened its latest exhibit featuring Garfinkel’s work Wednesday, and it will run until June 13.

    April 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Community Briefs: April 25 A compilation of community news items as published in the Friday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    April 24, 2014

  • Weekend Calendar: April 25 Entertainment scheduled at area venues for April 25-27.

    April 24, 2014

  • Live music: April 25 The following listings for live music and other entertainment at area venues are published in the Friday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    April 24, 2014

  • FEA HB0424 Bids for Kids Bears - April 2014 Annual Bids for Kids auction starts Friday

    Breaking the cycle of child abuse is one of the most difficult things to do, but the people of Madison County aren’t ready to give up trying.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jim Bailey: Figuring out how to have the good in life without the bad Most of us have had those faith-shaking episodes in our lives. The tragic episodes that leave us wondering what life is all about.

    April 24, 2014

  • Community Briefs: April 24 A compilation of community news as published in the Thursday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    April 24, 2014

  • Spotlight on the kids When pianist Nathan Cook started volunteering for the special education program at Anderson High School, he started mulling over ideas how he could do more to help.

    April 23, 2014

  • FEA - HB0423 - food truck file -NE Food Truckin' Thursday returns

    A new favorite that combines food and cars is rolling back into town next week. Food Truckin' Thursday starts back up May 1. For about six months, local vendors will pull up their food trucks to Citizens Park Plaza at Ninth and Main streets from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

    April 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • FEA HB0423 Tipton Community Briefs: April 23

    A compilation of community news as published in the Wednesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

Reader Pet Photos


We're looking for your best pet photos! Share your photos of your favorite non-human companions in our new photo gallery. Click here to upload your photos

Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin