“Georgianna Gould, Ph.D., now plans to study the impact of a diet rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, on the social behavior of the mice. Tryptophan is a biochemical precursor of serotonin, which means it is converted into serotonin during the metabolic process. Foods such as turkey are rich in tryptophan.”
Perhaps I could find information to help that is timely with the Thanksgiving Holiday. Thinking turkey would be a great example of a food that would naturally relax one as (I thought) it’s high in tryptophan and helps boost the neurotransmitter serotonin which is converted to melatonin; I searched Google and found a fun blog ‘Turkey Doesn’t Make You Tired: The Myth of the Post-Thanksgiving Crash’ where the author writes:
“The myth goes that the bird contains a high level of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan does not get taken into the cells, but rather stays in the bloodstream and travels to the brain, where it boosts levels of serotonin which is then converted into melatonin.
Serotonin and melatonin are involved in the regulation of sleep. And there is evidence that a diet with trypophan rich foods will improve sleep. Here’s just one study on this: Tryptophan-enriched cereal intake improves nocturnal sleep, melatonin, serotonin, and total antioxidant capacity levels and mood in elderly humans.
“The consumption of cereals containing the higher dose in tryptophan increased sleep efficiency, actual sleep time, immobile time, and decreased total nocturnal activity, sleep fragmentation index, and sleep latency. Urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin, 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid levels, and urinary total antioxidant capacity also increased respectively after tryptophan-enriched cereal ingestion as well as improving anxiety and depression symptoms” Read more
But, turkey doesn’t actually have a high level of tryptophan — it’s on par with other foods like chicken, beef, soybeans, and sunflower and sesame seeds. And the levels that it does contain are not high enough to translate into a nap. You’d need a direct shot of tryptophan on an empty stomach (remember, this is thanksgiving we’re talking about).”
That’s one way to look at it. But here’s another on why you may get sleepy after eating a turkey dinner
You’d think that would be enough info -but there are more views on this like Tryptophan: Turkey’s Sedative?
“Turkey is one of the common food items that provide an ample amount of tryptophan, along with chicken, milk, cheese, eggs, fish, soy, tofu, and peanuts. While turkey does have the making of a natural sedative, it is unlikely that the “calm, want a nap” feeling you have on Thanksgiving Day can be blamed on turkey alone. Nutritionists say that tryptophan actually works best on an empty stomach and only a portion of the tryptophan from the turkey actually makes it to the brain to help produce serotonin. It is, in reality, a combination of the type of food, amount of food, and celebratory atmosphere of Thanksgiving Day that gives you that comfortable feeling.”
So my next search was to see what doctors had to say about this. I checked Dr. Sears and found an article called “Foods for Sleep” and I was sure I would find turkey there. Interestingly enough some common breakfast foods made it onto the list of Dr. Sears’ “Snooze Foods” list, and poultry isn’t even in the top three!
These are foods high in the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan:
- Dairy products: cottage cheese, cheese, milk
- Soy products: soy milk, tofu, soybean nuts
- Whole grains
- Hazelnuts, Peanuts
- Sesame seeds, sunflower seeds
And a very popular breakfast meal was almost the top “Best Dinners For Sleep”
- pasta with parmesan cheese
- scrambled eggs and cheese
My last place to look was one of my most trusted; an NIH website. Here I found a list of the top foods for tryptophan and turkey was listed as clear as day…at the bottom of the list (OK because it’s in alphabetical order)
Tryptophan can be found in:
- Peanut butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
So perhaps the expression should be changed from “Don’t let the turkeys get you down” to “Don’t let your food get you down”
A parent just asked me “Since you’re the nutrition guru, w/ NV and all, I thought I’d pose this question to you and see what you think. My son has some bad temper tantrums. Do you think nutrition has anything to do with it? Like what he eats on a daily basis? I ask this because one day he’s a perfect angel then the next he’s a hellion! He’s apraxic, minor SPD, speech 2xs/wk, OT 1x/wk. Any and all info/opinions are wanted!!!”
I’m not a nutrition guru, but I suspect the answer lies in the neurotransmitters.
Research typically states that if one wants to be more alert you should look to increase the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, while if you are looking for calm, stress reducing effects you want to increase serotonin production.
There are various foods that will naturally raise the production of neurotransmitters including NV as Dr. Tom writes. “The amino acid profile of NutriiVed Original would undoubtedly assist and support the healing of any neurotransmitter deficiency, whether seizures, depression, anxiety disorder, insomnia”
Just recently, Georgianna Gould, Ph.D., research assistant professor of physiology in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, is exploring the role that serotonin plays in autism spectrum disorders. Research has found thirty percent of autism cases may have a serotonin component. The following quote is pulled from the press release for the study “Serotonin plays role in many cases with autism study confirms”
“Dr. Gould now plans to study the impact of a diet rich in the amino acid, tryptophan, on the social behavior of the mice. Tryptophan is a biochemical precursor of serotonin, which means it is converted into serotonin during the metabolic process. Foods such as turkey are rich in tryptophan.
“We are going to supplement the diet of mice with tryptophan to see if behavior improves, and also reduce it to see if behavior worsens,” Dr. Gould said. The future study of tryptophan is funded by the Morrison Trust, a San Antonio trust that lists nutrition as one of its topics of interest.”
Written by Lisa Geng, mother to two boys that were both “late talkers” who are doing great today. President and Founder of the Cherab Foundation, and Co Author of The Late Talker book St Martin’s Press