The Phoenix

Monday, November 21, 2005

What's Lurkin' In Your Turken'?

My thanks goes to siren song for her idea submission...

The American Thanksgiving Tradition: gather family and friends, cook a giant turkey along with all the other wonderful dishes, eat until you can't eat no more, head over to the family room and turn on football, and finally fall into the abyss known as the 'turkey coma.'

It's really a wonderful tradition, and one I look forward to every year. Question is, is there really something in the turkey that makes giants fall? Is there some type of chemical compound in a turkey that makes Uncle Tony begin snoring and drooling on your couch? The media has been talking about this for years, but how much truth is in their hype?

There is an amino acid called tryptophan that's found in turkey. Tryptophan is a known sedative, and at one time was a common sleeping aid. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is needed for the body to create serotonin, melatonin, and niacin. Serotonin is a calming neurotrasmitter while melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep. Tryptophan was being used in pill form to treat insomnia, but there was a rash of contaminated tryptophan that caused serious illness and some deaths in patients.

So is it the tryptophan that makes everyone groggy after stuffing their faces? Probably not. Tryptophan isn't able to affect the brain inside a stomach full of other foods and protein. There isn't enough tryptophan in turkey to affect you whatsoever anyway.

It's really all the food you eat that makes you sleepy - the mashed potatoes, the stuffing, pie, sweet potatoes. Lots of carbs means you will certainly crash a few moments after dinner. The insulin effect from all those starchy carbohydrates will certain trigger sleepiness. Plus, alcohol will certainly lay you out for the count. Don't believe the hype about the tryptophan in turkey. Other foods containing tryptophan include chicken, pork, and cheese. When you consume large amounts of food, the blood rushes to your gut to aid digestion, and there's the insulin/sugar effect from eating all those carbs.

What can be done to avoid the 'turkey coma?' Who cares? Why avoid it? It's tradition. I say embrace your Thanksgiving induced nap. Enjoy it. Gathering around a table, shoving lots of good food down your throat, and then sleeping to the sounds of football is your God-given-right!

Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful that the human mind is capable of justifying the enormous consumption of food that will make you fat and lazy. Just remember that it's not the tryptophan in the turkey that triggers sleep. It's a combination of eating lots of carbohydrates and the all-too-familiar call from the kitchen that, "It's time to do the dishes."

I guess many of us men have the 'turkey coma' on a daily basis.


Blogger David Amulet said...

Two years ago, through scientific observation, I discovered the TRUE cause of the post-meal couch coma: John Madden's inane drivel about mutli-legged turkeys!

11/21/2005 6:33 PM  
Blogger siren said...

Along with the turkey coma, one of our Thanksgiving traditions is to watch "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". Those aren't pillows!

Thanks, Phoenix. Have a great Thanksgiving!

11/21/2005 6:40 PM  
Blogger Jillian said...

Heck yeah - Turkey comas are the BEST, Phoenix!

And I miss you on my blog - Where have you been? :-(

11/21/2005 7:13 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Jillian, I've left comments on your blog, but it says it won't show up until the moderator OKs them.

John Madden is awesome. I love his inane in incomprehensible drivel. Don't forget, whichever team can pull out of this is going to win.

Siren, you are truly my inspiration. Now go think of more ideas for me to write about, my muse!

11/21/2005 7:35 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Happy ThanksGiving mate :)

lol @turkey coma


11/21/2005 9:02 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

the trytophan works if you buy a bottle at Walgreen's, smash all the tablets, and mix them in with all the food, thereby giving you a good two hours to go through the wallets and purses

11/21/2005 9:12 PM  
Blogger Reiki said...

oh, so it's all the alcohol that does it, not the turkey. good to know...

11/21/2005 10:00 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

All hail carbs!! I make the most bitchin' thanksgiving yams with brown sugar and butter and marshmallows and peaches... oooh, I'm drooling just thinking about it. (I think the Atkins diet people are crazy.)

And sometimes that turkey coma nap comes in really handy when you're sick of your family members.

11/21/2005 11:30 PM  
Blogger KC said...

This year we will have a chicken induced coma instead of turkey induced. Or possibly even a steak and potato induced coma. Turkey, turkey, turkey. We need a change this year so we're gonna buck tradition!

11/21/2005 11:47 PM  
Blogger Laurie said...

I have to work in the ER on Thanksgiving night, so I'll be taking care of all the post-dinner folks with indigestion who think they are having heart attacks. And the victims of drunken, dysfunctional family brawls - we usually get at least one stabbing.

Happy holidays! :-)

11/22/2005 8:53 AM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

The turkey induced nap is one of my favorite moments of the holiday. That and the traditional holiday dysfunctional fight.

11/22/2005 10:27 AM  
Blogger puremood said...

OK, so this may explain why my husband crashes on Thanksigiving but what's his excuse on non-holidays when he isn't stuffed with food? LOL

11/22/2005 1:02 PM  
Blogger ObilonKenobi said...

Ahhh. The truth comes out. John Madden is more powerful than Trytophan. Thanks for the talkin' Turkey with us. Now how about a post about Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving shopping frenzy? Or the Macy's Parade!!

11/22/2005 1:34 PM  
Blogger PDD said...

How about turkey stuffed fortune cookies?

Thanks for the comment.

11/22/2005 1:52 PM  
Blogger NowhereGirl said...

I AGREE!!! I love Turkey Coma. best sleep I get all year?! BRING ON THE TRYTOPHAN, BABYYYYYYYYYY!

11/22/2005 4:34 PM  
Blogger Grafs said...

Eating causes the release of dopamine, the "feel good" neurotransmitter. This and all of the insulin being released all of a sudden probably helps with the napping part. We had to memorize the structure of tryptophan along with all of the other essential amino acids in RX school. Great scientific post!

11/22/2005 6:37 PM  
Blogger whitesgem said...

I have the food induced coma every day, and I dont eat turkey even!
Btw, thanks for the heads up on the OPC 3- it sounds like a better version of a supplement that I have now, that you reminded me of and which I think pulled me out of the asthma attack!
Going to order OPC 3 now!

11/23/2005 1:30 AM  
Blogger Mojotek said...

I was one of those people that used to believe the hype about tryptaphan too. Until I realized I get tired every time I gorge myself. It's just worse on Thanksgiving because there are so many carb-laden foods to go around. MMMMMM.... yams!

11/23/2005 8:26 AM  
Blogger Anhoni Patel said...

Have you seen that Seinfeld episode about the lady with the toys whom George and Jerry, by feeding her turkey and boxed wine, put into a food coma just so they can play with her toys? Hilarious.

11/23/2005 10:49 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Oh my God, I DO remember that Seinfeld episode. Didn't they play with all those vintage GI Joes??? That was so funny. The temptation was too great, and they just couldn't help but play with those action figures.

11/23/2005 11:03 AM  
Blogger Kid Jacque said...

Happy Pre Bird Day Eve....

11/23/2005 5:32 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

lol I too rem that Seinfeld episode...


11/23/2005 8:41 PM  
Blogger Maciej said...

Thanks for being a faithful reader, Happy Turkey Day and best wishes!

11/23/2005 9:14 PM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

I was just studying about tryptophan and the effects on the human body. One of my professors talked about it.

11/24/2005 3:45 PM  
Blogger cube said...

Embrace the turkey coma. I love it!
Pass the pie...

11/28/2005 9:22 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Main Page

Established 2005...

Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by science is always stranger than fiction


To Enlighten & Entertain!

Subscribe in NewsGator Online

 Subscribe in a reader

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 License.

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

  • Site design by Pixie