Thanksgiving is a special day that’s all about feasting, being with family and friends, expressing gratitude, and, at around 3 to 6 pm, crashing into a clinical-grade food coma. Holiday tradition, of course, demands that we not only eat tryptophan-rich turkey, but promptly blame the festive fowl for causing this hard shutdown of our bodies (outraging turkeys across the world, as they must suffer the indignity of being both the eaten and the accused). However, according to an article in The Washington Post, it may be time to exonerate the maligned (and delicious) turkey and look to other suspects for our holiday daze (only after we wake up, of course). While it is true that tryptophan, an amino acid, gets converted into serotonin, and serotonin may contribute to feelings of relaxation, turkey also contains other amino acids that compete with tryptophan for uptake into the brain. Normally, this would result in a slower conversion of tryptophan into serotonin. But here is where the plot thickens: the bountiful amount of carbs consumed during Thanksgiving produces a surge of insulin that diverts competing amino acids to other cells, thereby clearing the way for tryptophan to enter the brain unimpeded. So, while tryptophan does play a role in our post-meal malaise, the turkey seems to be an accomplice to the carbs, rather than the main culprit. Plus, we usually eat and drink too much, and that would make anyone tired, turkey or no turkey.
Source: The Washington Post