Do Bananas Cause Constipation

Do Bananas Cause Constipation?

At some point, many of us have asked ourselves, do bananas cause constipation? There are so many conflicting sources when it comes to bananas. Some people say that bananas cause constipation while others say it causes diarrhea or simply regulates one’s bowel movements. Obviously bananas are a great source of vitamins and minerals, but those of us looking for a little help in the bowel department need to know the real deal behind what bananas have to bring to the table.

Banana Nutrition

In order to answer the question do bananas cause constipation, we must first look at the nutrients found in a banana. For starters, bananas are very high in soluble fiber, manganese, and potassium and are a pretty good source of vitamin C. They also contain vitamin B6. Bananas are low in cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fats, but there is a down-side. Bananas are pretty high in calories in comparison to other fruit, and unfortunately the majority of these calories come from sugar.

How Banana Nutrients Work in the Intestines

The soluble fiber found in bananas does make it beneficial to the colon. Fiber is the magic ingredient to a healthy colon—without it, we would all be in a great deal of pain. Fiber is like candy to the bacteria in the colon. They break it down and then release gases and acids, which is known as fermentation. The by-products of the fermentation process help to nourish the lining of the intestines as well as double as an energy source for other parts of the body such as the liver.

The gases hang out in the colon and help “fluff up” the fecal matter, making is soft yet still able to bind together. If there is not enough gas present in the colon, the fecal matter has trouble binding and will typically be less moist and even hard. If there is any excess of the fermentation gasses, they are released from the body… I don’t think we need to go too much into that, however! So as you can see, the fiber in bananas plays a crucial part in the formation and passing of feces.

That being said, there is also the consideration of how too much fiber can be a bad thing. Obviously fiber is available in many foods—especially fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. If one were to eat tons of bananas and still maintain a well-rounded diet including other fruits and vegetables, they are going to find themselves spending a great deal of time on the toilet! This is because an excessive amount of gas in the intestines can loosen the stool to the point that the colon cannot form a passable mass as it normally would.

This argument makes it sound as though bananas, in moderation, help to regulate one’s bowels yet an excess can lead to diarrhea. This is the truth, but not the whole truth…

Using Bananas to Your Colonic Advantage

As with all rumors, the basis for our earlier question (do bananas cause constipation?) does have a grain of truth. –More than a grain, actually. You see, the way in which a banana affects the body all depends on the ripeness of the banana. Green, unripe bananas, as you probably know, are bitter. They are also very starchy, which can literally block up the intestines by allowing fecal matter to bind too tightly together. Having said that, overly ripened bananas (you know, the ones with the little brown spots) are more likely to cause diarrhea because they contain more natural sugars and fiber at this point in the life of the fruit.

 

The best banana to pick is one that is a nice bright yellow color with just a hint of green at the top. This is a ripe banana that will have a great balance of sugars and fiber. This will lead to the successful regulation of bowel movements. If you are suffering from constipation, you could try eating an overly ripened banana or two just to get things moving again, but certainly try to stick with ripe bananas after that.