The Thanksgiving Turkey Myth Gets Exposed

Logo_Dave_AppleSince 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!


About Dave Barnas, M.S., CES, NASM-CPT

Dave is the true health guy. He is the founder and owner of True Health Unlimited, LLC, a personal health and fitness company in Tolland, CT & Wellness Writers, a subscription wellness newsletter service that incorporates live & virtual wellness workshops for companies across New England. Dave earned both a Bachelor's (1998) and Master's Degree (2000) in Nutritional Science from the University of Connecticut, and also holds certifications as a National Strength and Conditioning Association Certified Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Corrective Exercise Specialist, Aerobics and Fitness Association of America Group Instructor, and Nutrition Specialist. He's also the lead author for four published works. Dave has over 20 years of combined experience in nutrition counseling, dietary supplement advising, personal training, corrective exercise training, health coaching and public speaking. In addition, he's spent over 25 years studying spirituality, meditation, and personal growth strategies. Dave's clients are all ages: youth, college championship level athletes, folks in their retired years, and everywhere in between. He's worked with three of the nation's leading physicians as a dietary supplement advisor and been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, Yale University, UConn, St. Joseph College and various church groups, health clubs, and high schools. In 2013, he was invited to Whole Foods Market to share his Real Food Therapy Guide. And in 2015, Dave's funny "Snowga" (yoga in the snow) video caught the attention of The National Weather Channel, who aired it to shake off cabin fever and bring laughter. In 2016, Dave & Hollie (his wife) founded Wellness Writers and deliver evidence-based Wellness E-newsletters to spread a message of health and happiness to various businesses throughout the US. Dave currently serves as a personal trainer in Tolland as well as a wellness coach and writer for several businesses, gyms and wellness facilities throughout the US.

Leave a Reply