Is there such a thing as “banana constipation”?
Yes. In fact, there are 3 ways that bananas may cause constipation.
1. Unripe Bananas
2. Bananas and Fiber
3. Bananas and Pectin
Like apples, bananas are one of the healthiest fruits available. They are great tasting and available at a low price throughout the entire year. For years I have begun every day with a banana.
As long as a person follows the advice in this article, bananas need not cause constipation.
When a banana isn't fully ripe it contains a high amount of starch. Starch is hard for the body to digest. Harder to digest items spend more time in the colon.
Since one of the
colon’s jobs is to extract moisture to turn mush into formed stool,
spending more time in the colon means that stool tends to dry out,
becomes hard, and becomes difficult to pass. And that is what constipation
is all about.
As a banana ripens, the pectin in the banana turns the hard to digest starch into easier to digest sugars. A somewhat green banana has upwards of 40% starch, while a ripe banana has only around 10%.
If you are trying to find an answer for constipation and are a banana lover, you can still enjoy your bananas as long as you allow them to ripen so that no green remains in the fruit.
If, like my son, you can’t bring yourself to eat a ripe banana, at least you know why bananas make you constipated, and you can explore another way of dealing with their constipating effect.
Okay so perhaps you have made the decision to only eat ripe bananas; what’s this about fiber? Bananas have a nice amount of soluble fiber.
In fact, a medium sized banana contains 3 grams. That’s good, since fiber is one of the keys to staying regular. So how can fiber cause constipation?
When an excessive amount of fiber is consumed, it can actually work against you. Soluble fiber requires 2 things to help soften the stool.
Fiber is like a sponge that holds water in the stool to make it moist and soft. When a person is dehydrated, the body pulls moisture out of the colon to use elsewhere, resulting in a dry stool and constipation.
Therefore, when consuming a lot of fiber it is important to also stay hydrated, or that excess fiber may actually harden the stool, making it hard to pass.
By the time a normal stool leaves the body it should be around 50% bacteria. The good news is that these bacteria are even more effective at holding water than is fiber. The bad news is, the majority of people in the USA don’t have a healthy balance of bacteria in their gut.
Just a single course of antibiotics can alter one’s gut flora for years. The only way to restore it is with cultured and fermented foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and Kombucha, or by taking a pro-biotic.
Our choice of foods also plays a role in healthy gut flora. An excess amount of sugar feeds yeast and other unhealthy biologicals. Keep in mind that starches in white flour and white rice convert to sugar and contribute to the problem.
Why is it that bananas are included as part of the BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, and tea), recommended by doctors to help stop diarrhea? It is because the pectin in bananas increase the amount of water the colon absorbs from the stool. Pectin dries out the contents of the colon, which binds the stool together.
Now this is a good thing if you have diarrhea! When you tend to get constipated, it is bad. However, there is a simple remedy to pectin. It is called magnesium.
Magnesium acts as a saline laxative that pulls water into the colon. By taking a little magnesium to counteract the binding effects of pectin, you can enjoy all the bananas you like.
Whether it is bananas or something else that is causing a person to be constipated, magnesium may be the answer. Taking a daily magnesium supplement works with the body to keep stool from drying out on an on-going basis. Plus, a magnesium supplement may bring many other health benefits.
My wife and I started taking these sea minerals in 2006 because of these trace minerals, and found that our constipation disappeared. We have been taking it since then, and our constipation is gone!
My wife is an RN. She has written an account of her experience with these sea minerals.
There are many benefits to be had from eating bananas. They contain a high amount of potassium leading to increased cardiovascular protection. One banana per day can help to maintain blood pressure at normal levels and ensure your heart is functioning properly.
Bananas are also full of nutrients that offer protection from ulcers and stomach pains. The nutrients suppress acid secretion in the stomach and alleviate pains caused from increased acid build up.
Banana not only helps with stomach processes but will act to increase the strength of the stomach lining as well. The potassium also strengthens bones and the high amounts of vitamins will help to maintain eyesight.
So don’t rule bananas out of your diet just because of constipation. Let them ripen before eating them, stay hydrated, and if you eat a lot of them, take a little magnesium to counteract the pectin.