Tryptophan and Animal Protein

Michael Smith Blog - Know The Cause
We are right in the middle of holiday season which means a couple of things for Americans. It is time to see all those relatives who might as well be perfect strangers for the rest of the year. This can prove to be a good or a bad thing, depending on your family. Secondly……….. 


Americans are bombarded with advertisements encouraging to drop small fortunes on Christmas gifts. I am all for this tradition because I love getting gifts. Since I’ve returned to college however, it means I won’t be eating the week before Christmas so I can get my mom something. I’ll write that week off as a cleansing fast. Given that fact, the third item on my list is fortunate for us college students; it is the season of copious feasting on voluptuous meals.

Holiday times can wreck a Phase 1 eating plan. My mom makes the best cookies and pies ever, and even after a plate full of relatively healthy food, they can be tough to pass up. The good news is that every year Doug & Co. give plenty of delicious recipes to keep you on track and to get you through the holidays. Colorful salads, roasted vegetables or nuts and baked turkey, lamb, fish, or chicken are all festive ways to feed the family and won’t knock you off your diet. They are also packed with nutrients, and won’t give you the post-holiday meal blues that most holiday feasts are notorious for.

I feel like this is a good time to say something about our friend tryptophan. Tryptophan is that good amino acid that is found in our holiday turkey, and most other animal proteins as well. It is one of the ten vital amino acids we harvest from our diet to process into proteins (amino acids are the building blocks of proteins) and other nutrients. A little bit of the tryptophan you consume goes on to be turned into Niacin – a B vitamin. One of the more important functions of tryptophan, however, is that it is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin helps control your mood, appetite and sleep patterns. Problems with serotonin have been implicated in depression, and people diagnosed with depression are often given SSRI’s, or selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors.

I think it is amazing that a simple nutrient, found in turkey, chicken, tuna and countless other animal proteins can have beneficial effects on your mood and your sleep patterns. While eating a ton of turkey may not be the immediate cause of your uncle passing out and drooling during the Cowboys game, couldn’t including this nutrient regularly in our diet help regulate our mood and sleep patterns? Could people with mild depression try supplemental L-tryptophan before trying out those often dangerous mind altering drugs?

Depression is a serious issue, and before you take any advice from the KTC blog, show or website, you should ALWAYS go see your doctor first. But if you’ve had trouble sleeping as I have in the past, or if you maybe have a mild case of the holiday blues, maybe give our friend L-tryptophan a try. Or just slice off a couple more pieces of turkey this holiday season!

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