subject: tryptophan

De-stressing with Dairy

De-stressing with Dairy

When, a few years ago, researchers analyzed fecal samples from volunteer undergraduates at Swinburne University of Technology, in Victoria, Australia, they didn’t necessarily expect to find evidence of the students’ examination stress. Yet the fecal lactic acid levels—reflecting the amount of “good bacteria” of the genus Lactobacillus in the students’ guts—took a dive during the exam period. In other words, exam stress had caused the volunteers’ intestines to become more favorable environments to pathogenic organisms. As the exams went on, things only got worse: the researchers observed day-by-day reductions in the undergraduates’ fecal lactic acid levels. This couldn’t have been because exam-period diets were messing with the students’ health—the only significant dietary change was an increase in coffee consumption. Read More...

Breast Milk, the Synchronizer

Breast Milk, the Synchronizer

Consuming a glass of warm milk before bed is supposed to make you sleep well. This old wives’ tale is repeated on websites that offer health and nutritional advice, often backed up by the detail that milk contains tryptophan, the amino acid that is the reason eating turkey purportedly makes you sleepy. But the reality is much more complex. In fact, several compounds in milk appear to have a soporific effect. And perhaps the most intriguing thing about them is that their levels alter with the time of day that the milk is produced. Read More...

Medicating the Elderly with Night Milk

Medicating the Elderly with Night Milk

Elderly people often have trouble sleeping. For those afflicted, it’s more than mere annoyance: insomnia in old age is associated with a range of health difficulties. What’s worse, many medications that are commonly prescribed to elderly people only add to the problem—including beta blockers, which treat hypertension. This is because they lower the levels of a hormone called melatonin. Yet, melatonin levels can be increased by consuming foodstuffs that are rich in them. One key source is milk collected from cows in the middle of the night. Read More...