Friday, November 23, 2012

For The Holidays - Tryptophan In Depth

Everyone gets sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner, or any good holiday dinner.  Most, if not all, of us blame it on the turkey, because it has the amino acid called tryptophan in it.  It makes you sleepy.  This is a true fact, tryptophan does make you sleepy, but turkey has the same levels of it as all poultry.  So why doesn't chicken make you sleepy?  The carbohydrates in the meal is what makes you sleepy.  Tryptophan is an amino acid as stated before that is needed for the production of niacin, serotonin, and melatonin.  Serotonin is needed to transmit nerve impulses from the brain and is essential in regulating mood.  It also works in conjunction with melatonin to regulate sleep rhythms.  The body doesn't and cannot produce tryptophan, so it's essential that someone gets it from their food.  The following foods contain tryptophan:

  • Dairy Products: Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese
  • Protein Foods: Beef, Pork, Turkey, Chicken, Fish, Shellfish, and Eggs
  • Soy Products: Tofu, Soy Milk, and Soybeans
  • Legumes: Beans, Lentils, and Chickpeas
  • Whole Grains: Oats, Brown Rice, Wheat, and Wheat Germ
  • Nuts and Seeds: Hazelnuts, Peanuts, Almonds, Sunflowers Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and Pumpkin Seeds
  • Fruit: Mangos, Dates, and Bananas 
  • Vegetables: Beats, Kelp, Spirulina, and Potato Skins
  • Cocoa: Dry Powder, Dutch Coco, and Chocolate
If you feel depressed or suffering from insomnia, try some of these foods.  If this does not help for your depression or insomnia, and the problems are chronic, seek medical attention.  Do not rule out carbohydrates completely, because they help your body absorb tryptophan.  So remember, if you don't want to get sleepy after your holiday dinner, lay off the carbs but don't eliminate them.  Stay Informed!

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