While working through the Thanksgiving L-tryptophan afterglow, a couple of factoids…
DOES EATING TURKEY MAKE YOU SLEEPY?
The Roast Turkey is usually cited as the culprit for the post-thanksgiving lethargy, but the truth is that you could omit the bird altogether and still feel the effects of the feast. Turkey does contain L-tryptophan – used in the body to produce the B-vitamin, niacin – with a documented sleep inducing effect. However other more commonly eaten foods contain as much or more tryptophan than turkey (0.333 g of tryptophan per 100 gram edible portion), including chicken (0.292 g of tryptophan per 100 gram edible portion), pork, and cheese. As with turkey, other amino acids are present in these foods besides tryptophan, so they won’t put you to sleep.
The bounty of carbohydrate-rich dishes – mashed potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, etc – increases the level L-tryptophan. Carbohydrates stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin. When this occurs, some amino acids that compete with tryptophan leave the bloodstream and enter muscle cells. This causes an increase in the relative concentration of tryptophan in the bloodstream. Serotonin is synthesized and you feel that familiar sleepy feeling.
That and the combination of the type of food, amount of food, and celebratory atmosphere help to encourage the post-feast epidemic of napping.
ARE POINSETTIAS POISONOUS TO CATS OR DOGS?
Despite persistent rumors and popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous! Munching on the occasional poinsettia leaf will not kill your pet. According to the American Association For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control web page, eating poinsettias probably will produce gastrointestinal tract irritation, but no serious symptoms. If your pet is elderly, ill or very young, take extra precautions, but with some prudent placement, poinsettias can brighten up even a pet owner’s home.