Our word for the day: L-tryptophan (ell-trip-toe-fan).
It’s the supposed active ingredient in turkey that makes you feel sleepy and sluggish after that big Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. Some like to refer to this post-meal drowsiness as the ‘itis.’ Well, the fact is that L-tryptophan is not the culprit of your feelings of grogginess, sleepiness and sudden exhaustion.
L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid and a component of many plant and animal proteins. It is a foundation from which our brains make serotonin, which is then used to calm you down and make you sleepy.
But the fact is, L-tryptophan levels found in turkey are far too low to have any effect on our energy levels. It’s more likely that overeating and/or alcohol consumption have contributed to that I-need-to-take-a-nap feeling. That feeling is, in reality, blood being diverted from your brain to assist your digestive tract in processing the turkey, chicken, ham, tofu, mashed potatoes, green beans, dressing, peas, bread, cakes, pies, yams and so on.
So now you know and knowing is half the battle. Enjoy your holiday nap(s).