Constipation is a common health problem. It occurs when waste or stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract, causing it to become hard and dry. Constipation can happen for many reasons. Among the most common causes of constipation are slow movement of stool through the colon, poor diet and lack of exercise.
There are some claim that bananas cause constipation, here’s what you need to know..
Bananas are rich in several important vitamins and minerals. They’re also relatively high in fiber, as one medium banana contains about 3.1 grams of fiber. Fiber has long been claimed to help prevent and relieve constipation.
It’s thought to absorb water, helping stools stay large and soft. This helps improve the movement of the stool through your digestive tract.
However, the evidence that fiber actually helps relieve constipation is conflicting and surprisingly weak, given how many health professionals recommend high fiber intake to their constipated patients.
Some studies indicate that soluble fiber can help relieve constipation. Others suggest that reducing dietary fiber may actually help in some cases. Whether increasing fiber intake helps relieve constipation seems to come down to the individual. The type of fiber you ingest may also matter.
Resistant starch is a complex carb that has fiber-like properties. It escapes digestion in the small intestine and ends up reaching the large intestine, where it feeds the friendly bacteria that reside there.
Feeding these bacteria is a good thing. They produce short-chain fats, which contribute to digestive health and have beneficial effects on metabolism.
Before it ripens, a banana is almost entirely starch, which composes up to 70–80% of its dry weight. A large part of this starch is resistant starch.
As the banana ripens, the amount of starch and resistant starch decreases and is converted into sugars. Resistant starch functions like soluble fiber, which can help with constipation.
Many articles on the internet claim bananas cause constipation. Studies haven’t confirmed this, but some people believe they are a risk factor for constipation. In one study, German researchers investigated the perceived effects of various food items on stool consistency. They surveyed three groups:
IBS: 766 patients with IBS, where constipation was a major symptom.
Constipation: 122 patients were constipated.
Control: 200 healthy individuals served as the control group.
When the three groups were asked which foods or beverages caused constipation, bananas were mentioned by 29–48% of respondents.
In fact, only chocolate and white bread were named more often. Most people tolerate bananas well, at least when consumed in moderation. They improve digestive health and have prebiotic effects, feeding your friendly gut bacteria and stimulating their growth.
One study of 34 overweight women examined how eating bananas affected gut bacteria. After the subjects ate two bananas a day for two months, the researchers observed increases in beneficial bacteria called Bifidobacteria. However, the effect wasn’t quite statistically significant.
What’s more, the banana group reported improvements in digestive symptoms like bloating and stomach pain. The evidence suggests bananas tend to reduce constipation rather than cause it.
However, researchers have also found that some people think bananas make them constipated. If you feel that bananas give you constipation, then simply eat fewer of them. If that doesn’t work, try eliminating them from your diet completely to see if that helps.