Misconceptions About Agriculture: Does Turkey Make You Sleepy? (Thanksgiving Edition!)

First off I just want to wish everyone and their families a happy and blessed Thanksgiving, hoping that you all have enjoyed your Thanksgiving dinners. I know that I had a great turkey day, filled with all kinds of amazing food like rice, stuffing, dinners rolls, several different options of Puerto Rican cuisine (because I am of Puerto Rican descent), and of course a nice big juicy turkey! Of course I also had my wonderful family to share this meal with because I couldn’t finish it on my own of course, actually I probably could have. So after this huge feast, as it may go with many of you and your families out there, one by one my family members dropped like flies. They slipped into eternal slumbers, perhaps even food comas. Usually this is how it always happens after Thanksgiving dinner, my entire family just takes a group nap in my grandmother’s living room, but then I think to myself, If this always happens after Thanksgiving is it something that we all eat to make us fall asleep? I think maybe it’s the turkey, since I’ve heard before the idea tossed around that turkey makes you sleepy. I decided to look into whether or not this was actually true, whether or not turkey makes you sleepy.

It turns out that this idea seems to be relatively widespread, that eating turkey really does make you sleepy. When I heard this though, it seemed a little off, how can something as natural as a turkey make you sleepy. Actually while researching this question I found that this is just a common misconception, eating turkey actually does not make you sleepy. How do I know this? It’s actually due to a natural amino acid found in turkeys called “L-typtophan”. To explain more about what this amino acid is and what it does I reference Linda Yerardi, R.D., a diabetes nutrition educator at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. “Turkey alone will not make you sleepy. It’s true that L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in turkey and many other protein foods, can have a sedative effect in some people. But its effects are blunted by the presence of other amino acids in turkey, which compete for the same binding sites in the brain, she notes. “You’d have to take L-tryptophan alone (with no other amino acids present) and on an empty stomach to produce any drowsiness. “Lots of other foods, including ground beef and chicken, contain L-tryptophan, too, and don’t have this reputation.” (www.eatingwell.com, 2014)

With that said, it’s actually true that there is something in turkeys that could perhaps be a sedative, but is negated, by other amino acids and has no true effect. Therefore all my family members after dinner tonight weren’t falling asleep because of the turkey, but solely because of all the food we ate. So there’s another misconception about agriculture, debunked. Have a wonderful rest of your thanksgiving and sleep well with all that turkey in your tummy.

Sources: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/5_nutrition_myths_busted

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