Debunking the Myths of Thanksgiving

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Debunking the Myths of Thanksgiving!.png

Science myths drive me, a biochemist, crazy.. and I've heard too many this week. I, along with the chemistry experts at Sapling that support faculty, would like to share myths about Thanksgiving that you can pass on to students and Thanksgiving guests alike:

Myth #1: The tryptophan in turkey causes drowsiness.

Not true. In fact many other food sources like chicken have the same or more tryptophan in them, carbohydrate snacks do more to convert the normal amount of tryptophan you have in your blood stream to serotonin, and tryptophan has a much harder time crossing the blood-brain barrier than smaller amino acids.

The truth about tryptophan.

Myth #2: Brining turkey makes it juicier because of osmosis.

Not true. If osmosis were the action for this, then putting a turkey in a solution with a high concentration of salt would cause water molecules to come out of the semi-permeable cell-membrane of the cells in the muscle tissue of the turkey meat to dilute the surrounding saltwater… the opposite of making the meat moist!

So why is turkey in general more moist when cooked after brining? It is simple diffusion over a long period of time, not osmosis, that allows salt to enter the cells of the turkey tissue. The increase in salt concentration inside the cell denatures the dense proteins inside muscle fibers, opening them up to for water molecules to enter the protein and be retained through the cooking process.

Turkey brining basics

The science behind brining

Macmillan Learning is a company dedicated to the success of your students. The greatest value of the Sapling platform is through the specific wrong answer feedback your students receive as they struggle with homework. This feedback remediates whatever individual misconceptions that may have led a student to the answer submitted. In other words, the Sapling homework system debunks the myths that get in the way of student success in your courses. We also support faculty with subject-matter experts that can talk with you all day, and who know what it means to teach to struggling students. To learn more about the Sapling system, click here.

From the team at Macmillan Learning, we would like to wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

About the Author
James is an educational technologist, entrepreneur, PhD biochemist, and science educator with over 18 years of executive leadership experience. He has founded of two successful companies that develop highly effective and engaging STEM learning solutions for instructors at both higher education institutions and high schools. In addition to his love of his work helping students succeed, he enjoys hiking, wake boarding, and Austin's music scene.