Ravi M Singh
Nearly everyone falls prey to constipation at one time or another—more so when it comes to elderly individuals. People generally believe that if you are afflicted with constipation, you must give a wide berth to eating bananas.
As much as it is a delicious and healthy fruit loved by all, it has long become the focus of speculation and debate concerning constipation, a common gastrointestinal complaint.
My wife never eats bananas because she has constipation. She believes bananas aggravate the problem, as did most people I talked with. I still recall the old days when my mom gave us kids bananas to eat when we had diarrhea, saying it worked wonders to stop loose bowels. Nevertheless, a nonagenarian, she eats half a banana each day.
Although I’m a diabetic, I eat one banana every morning for breakfast. While on cycling rides, I indulge myself with two as it works like an energy booster when doing grueling inclines. It has been like this since I got into cycling for 15 years. That has never interfered with my bowel movements to this day.
My daily regimen starts with guzzling down nearly a liter of water on an empty stomach—first thing in the morning, followed by a refreshing mugful of tea. Before you know it, I have to dash for the washroom.
It stays that way every day, ruling out rare exceptions like when visiting new environments, a filthy bathroom, and while traveling—worst of all, if I have to use an archaic squat toilet instead of a commode.
My wife knows I never have a problem with constipation, but trying to convince her that bananas would not add to her problem always leads to a stalemate.
She instead goes for a heap of laxatives, stool softeners, and whatnot, ayurvedic antidotes, too, into the bargain—and that goes every day. It works for her most days a week, but the irony of it all, the motley medications do not work as a perfect remedy.
It was time I dug into this issue and got to the roots. Ta-da! My little research debunked the near folk myth that eating bananas aggravated the problem but helped those suffering from it—poop. It was nothing less than an eye-opener and a plausible answer to my wife’s misconception.
In a nutshell, constipation is a condition that leads to fewer than three bowel movements a week with hard, dry, or lumpy stools that are difficult and, at times, painful to pass, landing you feeling not all stool has passed through the rectum. My research led me to the finding that constipation is a health disorder affecting almost 20 percent of the world’s population.
To go by medically-backed findings, the primary causes of constipation include your eating habit and lifestyle. You will likely get constipated if your food needs more fiber, like leafy greens, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, or in the event, high-fat meals, such as meat, junk food, or processed food, outpace your dietary regimen.
Next, your daily intake of fluids needs to be improved, which can also precipitate in harder stools, stubborn from passing usually. Our body needs enough fluids to keep it functional, and science backs the theory. You won’t believe it! A whopping 67 percent of water makes up for our bodies.
Or, you are less involved in physical activity. Health experts maintain regular workouts contribute to more than toning up the heart and the body muscles; it also boosts regular bowel movements.
Now, the knotty question pops up, what makes bananas bowel-friendly and helps alleviate the severity of constipation?
Fiber-rich food is essential to keep you in excellent overall trim, including better gut health or microbiota. Consuming adequate fiber can prevent or relieve constipation, aiding waste to move smoothly through the body. It also encourages healthy gut microbiota.
Medical and health reviews claim dietary fiber enhances the bulk of stool, helps promote regular bowel movements, and cuts down on body wastes lodged in the intestines helping against gastrointestinal disorders.
That said, what makes bananas functional in alleviating constipation, and even work as a prophylactic against it and relieve those suffering from this miserable condition?
For a start, bananas pack both soluble and insoluble fiber. While insoluble fiber contributes to bulk, spurring bowel activity, soluble fiber absorbs water, helping stools stay large but soft, complementing the movement of waste through your digestive tract. Many plant foods, such as fruits, broccoli, carrots, oats, and beans, fall under this category.
There is more, the nutrient-dense bananas are a source of vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, A, and over three times as much phosphorus and iron as apples, all contributing to a healthy heart, stronger bones, and help keep your cholesterol and BP in check and cuts down on the risk of stroke—the checklist seems still an arm long.
Good news for diabetics! As maintained by the American Diabetes Association, the fiber in bananas counterbalances blood glucose at a safe level. Even diabetics can go for a modest single banana a day. Touted as a ‘superfood’ at the turn of the 20th century, it also gathered a lustrous endorsement from the journal of the American Medical Association.
That said, bananas are not unfavorable to constipation; they act instead as a close ally to mitigating the setback. Hopefully, this write-up will rid my wife of the long-harbored fallacy and go for bananas—haha!
The above content provides generic information based on research. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your doctor for further details.
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