NOV 22, 2017 9:40 AM PST

Debunking the Turkey and Tryptophan Myth

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham

Despite being a quintessential part of the Thanksgiving feast, turkey endures a number of bad reputations. Notably, tryptophan-laden turkey alone bears the brunt of the blame for the post-feast sleepiness and lethargy. But here's why this accusation is undeserved.

It's true that turkey contains L-tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes sleepiness. However, turkey isn't the only food that contains L-tryptophan. Foods rich in tryptophan include nuts, cheese, red meat, chicken, fish, and eggs. Furthermore, L-tryptophan requires help getting into the brain, and this help is in the form of carbohydrates. Taken together, the effects of the so-called turkey-induced drowsiness is really caused by everything found on the Thanksgiving table, not just turkey.

Another reason to let turkey off the hook for the post-meal tiredness? We get this tired after every big meal, not just at Thanksgiving. It's called post-prandial fatigue, and it describes how the body slows down in reaction to large quantities of food, regardless of whether turkey was included.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
NOV 06, 2020
Space & Astronomy
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
NOV 06, 2020
300 Million Planets in the Milky Way May Be Habitable
Researchers have found that there could be at least 300 million habitable worlds in the Milky Way galaxy. This could mea ...
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Discover Planet with Atmosphere of Vaporized Rock
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Discover Planet with Atmosphere of Vaporized Rock
Researchers have identified an exoplanet that appears to have an atmosphere composed of vaporized rock and oceans runnin ...
NOV 18, 2020
Plants & Animals
This Bat Species Uses Masks for Mating
NOV 18, 2020
This Bat Species Uses Masks for Mating
From pandemic precautions to televised talent shows, masks are having a moment. Even this bizarre bat species has a buil ...
DEC 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
DEC 12, 2020
Superhighways in Space Enable Super Fast Travel Between Planets
Astronomers from Serbia have found that invisible structures created by gravitational interaction in our Solar System ge ...
FEB 09, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
FEB 09, 2021
Scientists Spotlight Dangers of Ocean Noise Pollution
Many ocean species use sound to communicate and survive. Sound is a crucial communication method since vision is limited ...
JUN 24, 2021
Space & Astronomy
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
JUN 24, 2021
European Space Agency to Launch Satellite Made from Plywood
Modern spacecraft are typically made out of carbon fiber composites. Now, however, the European Space Agency has announc ...
Loading Comments...