The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon 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
  • FEA HB0417 Ghost Hunters Paranormal investigators visit Paramount The Paranormal Answers Research Team, a group of investigators who travel to alleged haunting sites, recently visited the Paramount Theatre to see if the building filled with history is also filled with ghosts.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bailey, Jim mug Jim Bailey: It’s a rough life when you’re six years old going on adulthood My granddaughter Gracie turns 7 in a couple of months. Two of her mother’s sisters, Becky and Sarah, can forewarn her on what she’ll face when Gracie’s age gets into double digits.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • FEA - HB0417 - Ghost hunters-Kelly Dickey Kelly Dickey: Ghost hunting leads to more skepticism and a fun story The thought of spirits terrified me as a kid, intrigued me as a teen and added to the various questions I have about life as an adult. But mainly they’ve been entertaining.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Community Briefs: April 17

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

    April 16, 2014

  • FEA HB0416 Reno Sweeney Review: Classic Cole Porter tunes in 'Anything Goes' Light-hearted entertainment reigns at Beef and Boards Dinner Theatre as the stage is filled with sparkling costumes, quick stepping and even a little slapstick thrown into the mix. “Anything Goes,” now playing through May 11, may be a musical celebrating its 80th anniversary, but the humor is not lost on modern audiences.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • Community Briefs: April 16 A compilation of community news as published in the Wednesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    April 16, 2014

  • Community Briefs: April 15 A compilation of community news as published in the Tuesday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    April 15, 2014

  • FEA - HB0414 - Multiplication Madness - JC 1 Multiplication tourney sparks interest in math Alexandria teacher creates multiplication tourney to make math fun.

    April 14, 2014 4 Photos

  • Community Briefs: April 14 A compilation of community news as published in the Monday edition of The Herald Bulletin.

    April 14, 2014

  • FEA - HB0413 - volunteer Brian Morson - JC 39 A helping hand Brian Morson’s time as a volunteer at St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital started as a patient when he had a hip injury. After he made a comment that hospitals in London have greeters, the director of Volunteer Services at the time told him he had the perfect voice and accent to do it at St. Vincent. Twelve years later, he’s volunteered more than 4,500 hours.

    April 12, 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