The benefits of tryptophan

Saira Valley

Posted on December 02 2018

The benefits of tryptophan

I suffer from adrenal fatigue. I will go into all the details about my battle in another post, but suffice it to say, it sucks. It can make it very hard to fall asleep, and then very hard to wake up and overall affects my mood and happiness. 

I also suffer from anxiety, hypochondria, and a host of other psychological issues. I was on medication to help me cope for over a decade, Zoloft to be exact. But over the years, the zoloft contributed to weight gain, moodiness, depression, loss of sex drive, and it frankly didn't make me feel better. I personally just felt numb. Which I suppose is good if you usually feel bad. 

I successfully weaned off of Zoloft under the supervision of my doctor, and after a year of this slow wean, I was drug free, and left to cope with my issues unmedicated. 

This is the time when I started to be very interested in how to help my body heal through diet and exercise. Now, let me be plain. This is just MY experience. I fully recognize that medication is a vital part of the health and wellness of a great part of our society, and I am relieved that we live in a time where there are such amazing products available to help people on a chemical level live full and happy lives. 

However, for me personally, after trying 6 different medications without feeling like i was IN my life, I decided I needed to try something new. 

My doctor had told me that part of my issue was serotonin ( feel good hormone) and the medication she put me on was designed to help me body keep more of it in my brain. 

So I wondered, how does you body actually MAKE this neurotransmitter? 

In simple plain terms, your body uses an amino acid called tryptophan to manufacture serotonin! Say what!! 

That's right. That delicious turkey meat you eat that makes you sleepy, contains an essential amino acid we all know well. But it does a heck of a lot more than anecdotally make you sleepy. 

Your body must get tryptophan from diet, it is not something it can produce on its own. Foods like turkey, eggs, oats, milk, yogurt,  red meat, fish and almonds to name a few are high in tryptophan. 

When we consume these foods, tryptophan has the least representation, which means all those other amino acids kick it to the curb. The best way to support the absorption and transmission of this critical amino acid to help you make that happy hormone, is to increase your body's insulin by consuming carbs. 

YES!!! I Love me some CARBS!!!

The way it works is this. When you eat carbs in addition to the proteins mentioned above, your body will divert the other amino acids to your Popeye muscles but for some chemical magical reason, it doesn't mess with the tryptophan. Leaving her to help your body make that awesome hormone we all need to help us with our general feelings of well being. 

Whew. That was a lot. So what is the bottom line. 

Tryptophan helps your body make serotonin, and eating proteins rich in tryptophan with a light carb on the side can help maximize your body's opportunity to absorb and manufacture what it needs to make you happier. 

I personally added a supplement to my diet as well. I am not sure yet if it has helped, but it hasn't hurt either!! 

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