Gobble Gobble! The Turkey & Tryptophan Myth Busted

Is it the turkey making you tired, or is it so much more?

Organic Prairie Roast Turkey

Have you heard the rumor about this beloved bird? Have you been spreading it yourself? Consider this tired myth “debunked” and educate and impress your dinner guests without boring them to sleep... before the food coma hits, of course.

It’s true that turkey contains the amino acid, tryptophan, which can be used as a building block for certain neurotransmitters that cause tiredness. Serotonin, which converts into the melatonin hormone, is known for causing drowsiness. Everyone at the dinner table that indulges in a slice or two of turkey can be found yawning or napping not too long after, so one might deduce that it’s the bird to blame. Not so! You see, tryptophan is in many other foods, like eggs, milk, oatmeal and soy beans. Ounce for ounce, the cheddar cheese baked into your famous mac ‘n cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey. The toasted pumpkin or squash seeds you snack on before the big meal contain twice as much.


Most experts agree, the true culprit can be found in almost all the traditional foods served at Thanksgiving: carbohydrates! When you eat plenty mashed potatoes, stuffing and pecan pie, your body reacts by releasing insulin to bloodstream. Certain amino acids leave the bloodstream during this process, giving tryptophan a leg-up through a competitive pathway through the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, tryptophan goes to work forming serotonin and snooze-inducing melatonin.

Many traditional Thanksgiving foods tend to be high in fat and sugar as well, and when they hit the small intestine, a neural response triggers the nervous symptom to slow down and focus on digestion. Digestion itself is a huge undertaking for your body when it comes to the large portions celebrated on Turkey Day. Your brain will divert energy towards the thousands of biomechanical and chemical processes involved in breaking down food into compounds, transferring nutrients throughout the body, and removing waste from the body.

Lauren Bolden’s Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Praline

If you hit the dessert table hard, a “sugar crash” can occur, leading you to lethargy. Booze, whether it be a few glasses of wine or holiday punch, can cause sleepiness as well. Why fight the feeling? As stressful as they may seem, the holidays are a time to relax. Eat, drink, sleep and be merry y’all!

You can get an Organic Turkey, Smoked City Ham and all your favorite Thanksgiving Sides delivered right to your door when you order by THIS Sunday, 11/19!