Wednesday, October 01, 2014

TRYPTOPHAN & TURKEY - Articles by a Naturopathic Doctor ( N.D.)


Ever wonder why you feel so good after a turkey dinner? Well it's not because you have over eaten... It actually has to do with a protein in turkey called Tryptophan.

It's no coincidence turkey is traditionally served at Thanksgiving – when the days begin to shorten and people begin to feel the winter blues... But turkey isn't just for holidays.  Eaten regularly, it's a healthy lean source of protein. And turkey can improve mood, well-being and sleep quality.

What is Turkey and Tryptophan?

Turkeys have been raised for food since the inception of farming. Turkey protein is a lean source of animal protein, healthy for those with cardiovascular disease and those with high cholesterol.

Turkey is also rich in the amino acid called Tryptophan, an essential amino acid only available in certain foods. Tryptophan is important for many things in your body and 'happy hormone' production is one of its most important functions.

What is Tryptophan used for?

Tryptophan is used by many to treat everything from headaches to PMSPMS to stress disorders...

One of its best functions is it goes into making serotonin and melatonin, two hormones in your brain and intestines.

Serotonin helps you feel relaxed and happy and melatonin improves sleep.

So if you find you are suffering with nervous restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, depression or just the winter blues, consider eating Turkey or taking Tryptophan on a regular basis.

EAT TURKEY!! Tryptophan in turkey increases 'feel good' hormones serotonin and melatonin

How does the Tryptophan in turkey work?

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means you need to get it from food. It goes into making 5HTP or 5 Hydroxytryptophan. 5HTP does many things in your body and making both serotonin and melatonin translates into you feeling more relaxed and happy.

Serotonin helps regulate mood, out look, general sense of wellness, behaviour, and it reduces appetite. In fact, because 5HTP increases serotonin, it's been compared to antidepressants like Prozac for its ability to alleviate depression. Serotonin is released in your gut and brain in response to digestive fullness. This creates a feeling of satiety which helps regulate your appetite. Because a deficiency of serotonin can lead to overeating and obesity it is important to keep your serotonin up naturally. Eating turkey is one way to do this. In fact there is a connection between stress and overeating. In part your body is trying to calm itself by releasing serotonin. If you lack the essential amino acid Tryptophan you can become deficient in serotonin. And a lack of serotonin can cause you to overeat. This then can create a negative cycle of depression and over eating. 

Similarly, melatonin is a hormone which causes relaxation and sleep onset. Studies show that melatonin regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles. Optimal levels of melatonin allow us to have restful and restorative sleep. Melatonin also cues the body to release growth hormone and sex hormones, which are used during sleep to repair body tissues and normalize hormone levels, making you feel strong and vital during the day. Finally melatonin is an antioxidant which protects your body by neutralizing damaging free radicals. The amount of melatonin produced by the body naturally declines as we age so supplementing with 5HTP, or eating turkey on a regular basis, may be a means of preventing age-related diseases while also maintaining great sleep.

Tryptophan and 5HTP are recommended by natural health practitioners for a variety of other reasons, such as: jet lag, aging, cancer, frequent colds and flus, PMS, memory loss, arteriosclerosis, high cholesterol, blood sugar imbalances, allergies, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, headaches, migraines, obesity, fibromyalgia, hyperactivity, and smoking cessation.

How do you use it?

Turkey can be eaten a few times a week or if you don't want THAT much turkey try taking Tryptophan in the form of 5HTP, which is available at health food stores. 5HTP comes in capsule form and can be found with herbs and minerals which support mood.

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