Don’t Blame the Bird for Your Post Feast Snooze on Thanksgiving

Have you ever heard the turkey is responsible for that sleepy feeling some of us have after our Thanksgiving meal? Some say tryptophan, a substance that naturally occurs in turkey, is the culprit.

It’s true turkey contains tryptophan. It is also accurate to say tryptophan can lead to sleepiness. That’s due to its involvement in producing brain chemicals, like serotonin, that affect sleep.

However, the idea that tryptophan in the holiday bird makes us sleepy is pure myth.

With some savvy science we can debunk the Great Turkey-Tryptophan Myth and learn why many of us crash for a post-feast snooze.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid.

Essential amino acids are necessary for supporting life due to their involvement in various biochemical reactions in the body. Essential amino acids are not produced by the body, thus, we must get those from food.

Turkey is primarily made up of protein and is rich in tryptophan which explains the turkey-tryptophan connection.

Now, how about the turkey-sleep connection?

Tryptophan is involved in producing a brain chemical (serotonin) that can, in fact, make us sleepy. This is what leads to the conclusion that eating a lot of tryptophan-rich turkey on Thanksgiving makes our eyelids heavy. It seems simple.

However, before we blame the bird, let’s dig deeper for the facts. The only way tryptophan in turkey would make us sleepy is if we ate only turkey, and lots of it! At Thanksgiving, that certainly isn’t the case. For a better understanding of what does cause the need for a post-meal siesta, we need to understand the Tryptophan Paradox.

The Tryptophan Paradox

According to research, increased levels of tryptophan in the blood do not lead to increased levels of tryptophan in the brain. (Remember, more tryptophan in the brain would lead to increased serotonin, the neurochemical that modulates sleep.)

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10 Things Grateful People Do Differently

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that in order to achieve contentment, one should “cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously.”

Turns out Emerson — who explored the meaning of a good life in much of his work — wasn’t far off when it comes to what we now know about counting our blessings. Research is continually finding that expressing thanks can lead to a healthier, happier and less-stressed lifestyle.

“Life is a series of problems that have to be solved — and a lot of times those problems cause stress,” Robert Emmons, a gratitude researcher and psychology professor at the University of California, Davis, told The Huffington Post. “Gratitude can be that stress buster.”

The way we celebrate holidays often includes a rhetoric of adopting an attitude of gratitude — but what about after the leftovers and family china have been put away? How do we, as Emerson advised, be thankful for each thing that contributes to our lives?

Below find 10 habits that will help you cultivate gratitude on a regular basis.

1. Journal.

Research has shown that writing down what you’re thankful for can lead to a multitude of wellness benefits. Keeping a gratitude journal can reinforce positive thoughts — something particularly helpful as the brain tends to naturally focus on what goes wrong. Putting pen to paper can also help you make more progress as you work toward personal goals.

In order to reap the full benefits of journaling, Emmons recommends writing for five to 10 minutes every other day. “You really need to commit to doing it, and if you write it down eventually it will become more automatic,” Emmons says. “It’s like exercise — you’re not just going to get up one morning and go running, —> Read More

Got PMS? You Might Have High Blood Pressure In The Future, Says Study

By: Agata Blaszczak Boxe
Published: 11/25/2015 10:14 AM EST on LiveScience

The headaches, fatigue and other symptoms of premenstrual syndrome may be more than just a monthly aggravation — they may also signal greater future health problems for those women suffering from the syndrome: Women who have PMS may have an increased risk of developing high blood pressure in the future, according to a new study.

Researchers found that the women who had PMS at the beginning of the study were 40 percent more likely to develop high blood pressure over the next 20 years, compared to women who experienced few menstrual symptoms. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

“To my knowledge, this is the first large, long-term study to suggest that PMS may be related to risk of chronic health conditions in later life,” study author Elizabeth Bertone-Johnson, an epidemiologist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said in a statement.

In the study, the researchers looked at the relationship between PMS and the risk of high blood pressure in about 1,250 women who developed clinically significant PMS between 1991 and 2005, and nearly 2,500 women with few menstrual symptoms.

The women were between 25 and 42 years old at the beginning of the study and the researchers followed them for six to 20 years. At the start of the study, and every two years afterward, the women were asked whether they had received a diagnosis of high blood pressure from their doctors in the past two years. [Beyond Vegetables and Exercise: 5 Ways to be Heart Healthy]

The researchers found that the link between high blood pressure and PMS was strongest among women who were younger than 40. The women in this age group who had PMS were three times as likely to also —> Read More

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