The role of tryptophan for smell and sleep
I am a nerd so I love reading academic papers. As more research is coming out in our post pandemic world it would seem there is an association between some of the longterm post viral symptoms and serotonin and tryptophan and their effects on sleep and smell.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The body cannot make tryptophan so has to ingest it through food and supplements. It is used to create serotonin, a very important chemical messenger. Serotonin has an optimum range and when it is too low it may be the cause of depression, too high and there are other health consequences. For people who are showing issues with sleep and their sense of smell research is showing this may relate to tryptophan and its production of serotonin and also its regulation of melatonin.
We know that certain viruses can affect the gut and this is where tryptophan is absorbed. It may be that people have adequate intake of dietary tryptophan but as their gut biome has been affected they are less able to absorb it. Again, we are learning so although it may be useful to check our own food choices it is also important that we look at ways to support our overall gut health.
Foods that are rich in tryptophan include:
- dairy milk (cows) and products made from it including cheese, yoghurt (in particular Greek)
- meat such as turkey, beef and chicken
- nuts in particular cashew, pistachios and almonds
None of the above is to be taken as medical nor dietary advice and is for information purposes only. Check with your GP or other medical professional before making any changes in your diet or lifestyle, especially if you have a medical condition.