While banana is good in fighting cardiovascular disorders, numerous people wonder if they are also beneficial on the stomach. Interestingly, bananas are good for the stomach and the whole of the digestive system. Eating them in moderate amounts have tons of benefits, and can ease stomach upset, relieve constipation, stop diarrhea, and even fight ulcers.
Stomach upset arises by drinking or eating too much. It can be accompanied by heart burns, nausea, belching, and excess gas. It is actually caused when the mucosal cells in the lining of the stomach are irritated or inflamed. This makes you feel bloated, and lack comfort.
While reducing the amount or limiting the type of foods you eat is effective in preventing stomach upset, intake of bananas may help get rid of it with ease. This can be attributed to its pectin content, which can naturally stimulate bowel movements, and also soothe the mucosal lining.
As a bonus tip, limiting the intake of highly acidic and spicy foods can also help prevent stomach upset.
Every year, over 8 million people visit a doctor to seek help for constipation in the US. This figure should be even more than that, considering the fact that most people who have constipation don’t seek medical attention. In reality, constipation is more dangerous than you think. In the US, about 900 people die annually from diseases associated with or related to constipation (1).
However, relieving constipation at home is possible. Bananas are good laxatives that can improve the movement of stool down the colon. They achieve this by improving peristaltic action of the gut, which has been attributed to their rich fiber content.
While foods like banana can help greatly, it is best advised you visit a doctor if you are highly troubled by constipation.
You must have heard of the BRAT diet, which is a food combination recommended for people with vomiting, diarrhea, and gastroenteritis. BRAT is an acronym for banana, rice, apple sauce, and toast. Banana is an important component of the BRAT diet, and can help stop diarrhea.
To check how effective bananas are in treating diarrhea, a group of researchers carried out a study, where they fed green bananas to 62 children with persistent diarrhea (2). Just after day three, more than half of the children were relieved of diarrhea. By the end of the experiment, green banana consumption was able to completely stop diarrhea.
Thus, the above research provides clinical evidence that green banana are useful in the dietary management of persistent diarrhea in children, and may also be useful to treat children at home. By the way, bananas are soothing to the digestive tract, and can help restore lost electrolytes after diarrhea.
Bananas possess some anti-ulcer activities in the stomach. Dried, unripe bananas contain sitoindosides. These compounds help increase mucus production in the digestive tract, which provides a strong protective coating to help prevent and heal ulcers. According to Dr. David Williams, unripe whole banana can be used to treat ulcers, but the best results are obtained with banana powder (3).
Bananas also have some other benefits on the stomach. They can act as prebiotics, by stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. They can also act as natural antacids to provide relief in cases of heart burns and acid reflux.
I wrote an extensive piece some time ago, on the properties, health benefits, and medicinal uses of banana. You might want to have a look here.