Interesting information shows up when you conduct an internet search on “bananas and constipation”. Some sources report bananas help provide constipation relief, as well as help regulate bowel movements. Other health sources state that bananas cause constipation. As you continue to dig further in your search queries, results will also tell you this: Bananas both cause and relieve constipation. Obviously, this can be confusing so here is my take.
Nutritional Facts About Bananas
Whether you are suffering from constipation or not, bananas are great for the body. Let’s start with several key nutritional facts about bananas.
- Very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium
- A good source of dietary fiber. Bananas contain about 15-20% of your daily fiber needs.
- A good source of Vitamins C, A and B6
- Rich in dietary minerals, mainly in Potassium, Manganese, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, and Phosphorus
Since bananas are high in potassium, eating a banana a day will help restore valuable electrolytes to your intestinal tract. Additionally, they contain a natural compound called fructooligosaccharide, which can help encourage beneficial bacteria in your intestinal tract.
Importance of Adequate vs Excessive Intake
If you recall from above, bananas contain about 15-20% of your daily fiber needs. According to the American Dietetic Association, the daily goal for live fiber intake is between 20 and 35 grams. However, on average, Americans eat a mere 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily, falling short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended.
Let’s face it, maintaining a balanced diet is key to living a healthy life. If you find yourself excessively consuming any foods that cause constipation, primarily dehydrating fluids and low fiber foods that are high in fat (fried foods, refined sugars, dairy products, coffee, coke, alcohol, etc), you are depriving your digestive system of vital nutrients including vitamins and minerals necessary to regulate your intestinal tract, not to mention relieve the symptoms of constipation.
On the flip side, although the bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass, there is a situation to be aware of. When consuming large amounts of fiber, be sure to increase your intake of fluids. Simplified, if you are eating a lot of live fibrous foods such as bananas, broccoli, apples, carrots, etc. – foods that are highly recommended and good for you — then be sure to drink lots of water! Why?
Although live fiber foods are already high in water content, If you excessively consume fruits and vegetables high in fiber, and you are drinking substances which dehydrate you such as coffee and alcohol, you may be causing some dehydration to occur, which can lead to hard and difficult to pass stools resulting in constipation.
Let’s revert back to the nutritional facts section for bananas above, and concentrate on the minerals part of the banana. Bananas are rich in dietary minerals mainly in potassium, manganese, calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus. Each of these minerals, when taken in appropriate portions, play an important role in our overall health. For purposes of this article, focus on one of the minerals listed – iron.
Iron, is one of fifteen minerals essential to health, known for transporting oxygen. Iron deficiency can result in anemia, which can produce symptoms such as depression, irritability, fatigue, loss of attention span, and insomnia. How many people do you know suffering from one of those symptoms? However, Iron taken excessively can be very harsh on the digestive tract and is known to cause constipation. Therefore, I recommend a safe level of daily iron to be in the 15-30mg range. 1 banana contains about .5mg of iron
Since bananas are rich in dietary fiber and other minerals, I recommend adding 2 organic bananas a day to your balanced diet 20 minutes before meals.
A Banana a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away!
To the sources that report bananas helps provide constipation relief and regulate bowel movement – they are correct. To the sources that state bananas cause constipation – somewhat correct, with an adjustment: Eating bananas excessively without proper hydration can cause constipation for reasons explained above.
In general, should you choose to eat more fibrous foods to help relieve and prevent constipation, whether bananas, apples, carrots, broccoli, raw nuts, etc., be conscious of consuming such foods in balanced proportions, and hydrate your body by increasing your water intake.
Remember, if you are still experiencing constipation after eating a couple of bananas, you can also take an oxygen-based intestinal cleanser like Oxy-Powder®. Oxy-Powder® can help keep your bowels moving regularly.
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DABFM
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