Mr. Norris, I heard eating turkey meat can cause lethargy and drowsiness. Is that true? – Anne B., Bellevue, Wash.
Tryptophan is one of the essential amino acids (for protein formation) and also an ingredient of serotonin, which has a calming effect on the brain. Because turkey meat contains high levels of tryptophan, many believe it causes the sleepiness after a Thanksgiving meal (or one of its multiple-day leftover meals!).
This is actually a food myth. Tryptophan has to be taken in larger doses and on an empty stomach to cause a sedative effect. It should be noted, too, that significant levels of tryptophan also are found in beef, pork, chicken, eggs, cheese and milk, but these foods are not usually associated with taking a nap.
Feeling sleepy after a Thanksgiving meal is largely the effect of a combination of factors, including travel, the need for rest and one’s consuming a large meal full of high-carbohydrate foods, such as potatoes, breads and desserts. And let’s face it; beer during a ballgame or wine at dinner doesn’t exactly cure drowsiness.
True, tryptophan was used as a sleep medication a few decades ago, but it also was banned as a sedative by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after products in which it was contained were associated with a rare and life-threatening condition known as eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome.
Quite frankly, there are a host of negative chemicals, contaminants and additives that should concern us – agents that we should detoxify from our bodies.
Detoxify? That is a big word that basically means “get rid of the toxins in your body,” and it’s Pillar No. 5 in building a better you.
“Detoxify” is a term that was once reserved for drug treatment centers. Now it is used in mainstream society because our air, water, food and household products are streaming with contaminants.
It’s alarming news, but we must face the facts. Mike Adams – an author, investigative journalist and educator – reported, “Today, more than 95 percent of all chronic disease is caused by food choice, toxic food ingredients, nutritional deficiencies and lack of physical exercise.”
According to Dr. Don Colbert, we all have toxins in our bodies. Believe it or not, there are about 80,000 chemicals registered in the United States, and 2,000 new ones are added each year. They are used for many things, including food additives, prescription drugs, supplements, makeup, lotions, cleaning supplies and lawn care products.
Most people are aware that our food supply is polluted by herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals, but not everyone knows that up to 2,100 chemicals are present in most municipal water supplies. Is it any wonder that an American Red Cross sample study of babies’ umbilical cords discovered an average of 287 contaminants, of which 180 are carcinogenic?
Some ailments caused or exacerbated by these toxins include chronic fatigue, heart disease, memory loss, premature aging, skin disorders, arthritis, hormone imbalances, anxiety, headaches, emotional disorders, cancers and autoimmune diseases.
Any way you slice it, one of the worst habits for your health is smoking, with its extensive cancer-causing risks and other debilitating diseases and conditions associated with it. Every year, more than 750,000 Americans die from cardiovascular diseases, and 550,000 die from cancer. About 450,000 die each year from smoking-related causes.
My father was addicted to cigarettes. He contracted throat cancer and had to have a metal tracheostomy tube placed in his throat. I always thought he would die from alcoholism, but cigarettes did the job first.
It is also very sad to see that 4,000 more adolescents ages 12-17 begin smoking every day. We need to oppose cigarette marketing to youths through such ploys as “flavored tobacco” and pseudo-healthy alternatives, such as “clove cigarettes.”
Though we cannot completely avoid all toxicities, we can reduce the number of contaminants we put into our bodies.
Here are Dr. Colbert’s suggestions for how to do that, as well as a few of my own recommendations:
Drink adequate amounts of water (for flushing and filtering your body’s systems).
Eat green foods and take specific nutritional supplements to keep your liver (the body’s main detoxifying organ) healthy. Also, cleanse and protect the liver by taking certain herbs – such as milk thistle, dandelion root and burdock – and drinking green tea.
Eat organic (chemical-free) living foods.
Eat plenty of fiber – 25 to 30 grams per day – from foods such as 100-percent bran cereal, brown rice and organic fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, beets, cabbage, radishes, artichokes, spirulina and chlorella are particularly good detoxifying foods.
Quit smoking or exposing yourself to environments of secondhand smoke.
Exercise in clean-air areas (gyms, beaches, hills, etc.). There’s a Danish proverb that says, “Fresh air impoverishes the doctor.”
Sweat, and brush your skin. Also, use sauna therapy.
Use natural products (and gloves when you don’t).
Clean the air in your home with air purifiers and live plants.
Fast using fresh, juiced, organic fruits and vegetables.
God created an awesome toxin- and waste-management system for our bodies, which includes the liver, lungs, skin, colon, urinary tract, lymph nodes and sweat glands. But our organs are being tapped out by the extensive use of chemicals throughout our society.
If we want to preserve these amazing human machines, there’s no getting around it; we must better guard the entry points in our bodies for toxins and other adversaries.
If we plan to be around to see and enjoy future Thanksgivings, we must detoxify!