Since most nutrition articles this time of the year will likely reveal something you already know about cutting calories, etc, it is my intention to share something you might not. And, while this article may not change your life, it’s kind of an interesting example of how something partially true permeates through the minds of many to become culturally accepted as true. This article will share a meme, which is an idea that spreads from person to person within a culture that acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas. Some suggest the concept of a meme is a cultural analog to genes in that they self-replicate and mutate.
So what is the meme on Thanksgiving that everyone believes is true?
It’s that Tryptophan in turkey makes you sleepy.
Meme: The suggestion behind this meme has been that the presence of tryptophan (an amino acid)–which is indeed involved in sleep and mood control–in turkey makes all of us sleepy. In actuality, turkey does not contain a significant amount of tryptophan to elicit the effect, and when eaten with other foods, the absorption of tryptophan is reduced.
Instead of drowsiness being an effect associated with the tryptophan of the turkey, nutritional science would suggest that drowsiness might be the consequence of any one of the following or a combination:
1. Large meals can divert blood flow and oxygenation away from the brain during digestion
2. Foods that are generally higher in protein or carbohydrates can elicit sleepiness
3. Alcohol consumption may also play a role. (Which reminds me…if grandma got run over by a reindeer, let’s hope Santa keeps it clean this year. We’ve had enough trauma with Sandy.)
So, if you’re trying to prevent holiday drowsiness, consider smaller portions and pay attention to the “beverage” consumption.
And, most importantly, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!