Nov 20th Gut Check

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday!  Not because of the food, or even the football but more because of the history, and the pretty decorations to follow.  Although not everyone agrees I happen to believe that the first Thanksgiving took place in Plymouth Colony, in what is now present-day Massachusetts,in 1621.  John Alden, William Bradford, Priscilla Mullins, and Miles Standish were among the 52 Pilgrims who were accompanied by approximately 50 Native Americans.  This First Thanksgiving is believed to have been a secular event and wasn’t repeated, but in 1623 a Calvinist feast did occur without Native Americans.  The first national celebration of Thanksgiving was declared in 1775 by the Continental Congress and was to celebrate the win at Saratoga during the American Revolution. However, this still was not an annual event.  Shockingly it took more than 200 years from the first feast before President Abraham Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving, and Congress finally made Thanksgiving Day an official national holiday in 1941.

I hope that woke your brain up!  Ever wonder why we get so sleepy after such a large meal of turkey and stuffing and cranberry sauce?  Of course Tryptophan (that well known amino acid that makes us tired) is the first to blame.  Tryptophan has been the culprit for many years, however, I couldn’t help but wonder why after eating a turkey sandwich or eating foods higher in Tryptophan I didn’t experience the same sleepy slumber.  WebMD asked the same question but failed to address why after Thanksgiving dinner specifically do we pass out on a strange couch at grandma’s during football.  My attempt at the discovery is simple.  Quite frankly we get tired after every heavy meal, not just Thanksgiving, because our amazing brain knows that to prevent us from exploding our parasympathetic nervous system needs to go to work.  This system lives primarily on the Left side of the brain and in the thoracic or mid back area of our spine and is solely responsible for the rest and digestion of nutrients in our body.  On the right side of the brain is our sympathetic nervous system which is where stress is processed.  This system pumps blood away from our core to our limbs so that we can run away from a threat.  Therefore after consuming our fair share of calories our brain knows to send blood and digestive enzymes to work in the digestive area of our bodies and that the rest of the body can relax and enjoy a quick nap.


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