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Afternoon Tiredness

Eating a high-refined-carbohydrate lunch can make you tired in the afternoon, and the best way to make yourself more alert is to take a nap.

High-refined-carbohydrate meals make you much sleepier than high-protein meals, and they also impair your ability to learn and reason. Nerve cells send messages to each other by chemicals called neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, that makes you drowsy. The brain makes serotonin from a protein building block called tryptophan. When you eat a high-refined-carbohydrate meal, the blood sugar levels rise to cause the pancreas to release insulin. That drives tryptophan into the brain, causing it to make more serotonin and you to feel tired. Eating pasta, bakery products, fruits, potatoes, and sugar added foods for lunch can make you tired in the afternoon. The most effective way to revive yourself once this happens is to take a short nap.

1) Kolata. Science 218:1209-1210, 17 Dec. 1982. 2) J of Psychiatric Research. Research Strategies for Assessing the Bahavioral Effects of Food and Nutrients. Papers were presented at a conference at M.I.T. Nov. 9, 1982. Richard Wurtman, Ernest Hartmann (Tufts), Bonnie Spring (Harvard), Harris Lieberman, Alan Glelenberg, Dorothy Stewart.

Checked 4/4/12

May 31st, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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