Turkey, The Brain Changer

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Need some help getting some of that holiday cheer for Thanksgiving?

Well Don’t skip on the turkey and the carbs, and all the other foods. It’s well known (even Time magazine is in the know) that turkey contains amino acids, L-Tryptophan, which gets converted into serotonin within the brain. Serotonin is a hormone typically linked with depression when lacking. When levels of serotonin are elevated it has a positive effect on improving memory, improving mood, and improving sleep disturbances

The Turkey Hype

However, the amount of tryptophan in turkey is relatively low compared to other food sources such as eggs and cheese, and about the same amount as chicken, beef, and ham. Also, the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin is dependent on the ability of tryptophan to compete with all the other amino acids in crossing the blood brain barrier.

How to get past these challenges?

Eat a variety of foods. As you are savoring the turkey, don’t forget about the rest of the food on the table. As mentioned earlier, turkey isn’t the only food item that contains tryptophan. Make sure to eat a little bit of carbs, or a lot if you can really go for the food coma. Carbohydrates cause the body to release insulin, a hormone that helps your cells to uptake carbohydrates and other amino acids that compete with tryptophan. Tryptophan is left in the bloodstream to make its way to the brain. So remember to eat a well balanced meal to help your brain with memory, sleep, and put you into a better mood. Happy Thanksgiving!