Tiredness, unstable mood, lack of concentration, but also irritability, decreased sexual desire, agitation and insomnia. They could all be signs of one deficiency of tryptophan, an amino acid on which a large part of the balance of our emotional well-being depends. ‘Tryptophan is a component of proteins involved in various mechanisms and processes in the body, including the regulation of mood and libido, the sleep-wake rhythm and even the perception of hunger and pain»Comments the nutritionist Valentina Galiazzo, specialist in clinical biochemistry.
«This amino acid plays a fundamental role for the nervous system. In fact, it facilitates the formation by the neurons of the brain of certain hormones involved in the regulation of emotional states, but also of concentration and memory ». “Some recent studies suggest that a deficiency of this amino acid that the body is unable to synthesize on its own, but which must necessarily derive from the daily diet, even increases the risk of suffering from depressive states” says the expert, who here explain what they are the benefits of tryptophan and in which foods it is found.
It increases the good mood and fights hunger pangs
«Tryptophan (TRP) is the precursor of serotonin, also known as the hormone of good humor and happiness. This neurotransmitter, in addition to promoting calm and tranquility, helps you feel full and satisfied. The foods that are richest in it are those of animal origin such as milk, cheeses, eggs, fish, which are also source of vitamin B3 and B6, without which this amino acid does not turn into serotonin. Some foods of vegetable origin are also excellent sources such as cabbage and citrus fruits, which they also provide magnesium and vitamin C, micronutrients that facilitate the transformation of this amino acid into the hormone of good humor ».
“Reduced levels of tryptophan in the daily diet, in addition to disturbing rest by promoting agitation and anxiety, increase the risk of insomnia”, explains nutritionist Valentina Galiazzo. «In fact, tryptophan is essential for the formation of melatonin, the sleep hormone, which promotes relaxation and rest. To counter the problem, the best sources of tryptophan are pasta, rice and whole grains in general which, thanks to the presence of complex carbohydrates and some B vitamins, increase its relaxing power ».
It reduces stress
Tryptophan can even influence the joy of life. In addition to promoting relaxation and calm, it inhibits the formation of some stress hormones: «The brain neurotransmitters of which it is a precursor, including serotonin and melatonin, act as real tension reducers. They are in fact able to counteract the production of hormones such as cortisol that make you feel agitated and stressed »continues the expert.
Where is it
Tryptophan is an amino acid that it must necessarily be introduced with the diet. The foods that are richest in it are the chocolate, the dried fruit, i dairy product, i legumes, in particular i this and the lentils, but also i Whole grains, the white chicken and turkey meat and finally the fish. This does not mean that in order to have enough it is necessary to eat only and exclusively these foods. «To ensure good levels of tryptophan it is first of all necessary to follow a balanced diet complete with all the essential nutrients the body needs. Several studies have highlighted, for example, that associating foods that are rich in it with those that contain carbohydrates facilitates the transport of this amino acid to the brain and enhances its benefits “, says the expert. «Another useful strategy to adopt at the table is include pre and probiotic foods in the menus which keep the gut and its good bacteria in balance. This facilitates the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin. So yes to foods rich in soluble fiber such as apples, pears, and onions and fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir“. Would you like to know more?
Find out about other lesser known foods that contain tryptophan here