Zzzzzzz ... please pass the turkey

While enjoying our Thanksgiving feast, the question arose: Does turkey really make you sleepy? My sister, a nurse, argued that it is a myth. My mother said it's fact. Of course, we all took naps after dinner, and the issue was never researched or resolved.

— Melissa J., Medford

Turkey has long taken the blame for post-meal drowsiness, but the real culprit is overindulgence.

A Google search will turn up numerous medical journals and articles, most of which debunk the myth that turkey makes you sleepy. Sorry, Mom.

Turkey contains about as much of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan as chicken and beef and less than cheese and pork, according to an article published in the British Medical Journal in 2007.

Furthermore, the effects of tryptophan are minimized when consumed with other foods. So unless eaten separately from the stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, yams, gravy and pumpkin pie, a turkey is not likely to cause lethargy.

Large amounts of carbs coupled with a glass or two or three of wine is much more likely to prompt the Thanksgiving food coma as "blood flow and oxygenation to the brain decreases," the BMJ article stated.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com.

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