Bananas are a gift of nature. They’re delicious, nutritious, and make for the perfect healthy snack. Let’s not forget they’re also inexpensive and are convenient to carry anywhere.
Bananas offer numerous health benefits.
* They’re rich in nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, copper, and fiber.
* They contain antioxidants that can boost immunity and reduce the risk of chronic disease.
* They’re rich in soluble fiber that slows digestion and adds bulk to your digestive system. This may help keep you fuller for longer.
* They're also an excellent whole-food source of carbohydrates - our body's primary source of energy.
However, there’s one little-known health benefit of bananas that many are still not aware of. Recent studies suggest this fruit can also be highly beneficial for the health of your gut (more clinically referred to as the gastrointestinal system). Let’s find out more.
Why bananas are great for gut health?
A 2021 review published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology examined 50 previous studies to understand the role of the gut on our health. The researchers reported the importance of a balanced microbiome - the bacteria that live in our intestines.
Resistant starch, the type of fiber found in unripe bananas, is prebiotic. Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that escape digestion and end up in your large intestine where they act as food for the preexisting good bacteria. This is done by binding with the bacteria.
Health experts say that good bacteria need nourishment too and foods like bananas can be really useful for that purpose. Probiotics essentially help gut bacteria to perform a range of healthy activities and play key roles in our digestion and immune system regulation.
Feeding the gut bacteria with prebiotics also allows them to increase in number and produce beneficial compounds called short-chain fatty acids. These acids improve gut health by providing protection against inflammation, maintaining intestinal barrier integrity, and mucus production.
There’s more. The chemical compounds in a banana become a film-like shield between the fruit and the lining of the intestinal tract. As the banana breaks down, it doesn’t rub on the intestinal lining, and its compounds coat and soothe it almost like a healing ointment.
The importance of maintaining good gut health
Most medical professionals say that gut health strongly affects the overall health of the other parts of the body. It also plays a vital role in how the body processes a variety of ailments. Therefore, keeping your gut healthy can help your body operate more effectively and enhance your ability to fight diseases.
Scientists also note that not feeding our gut microbiome’s good bacteria might create a gut bacteria imbalance known as dysbiosis. Research shows that this imbalance can lead to chronic conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBS), obesity, diabetes, and even cancer.
Without healthy bacteria in our gut, the gastrointestinal tract’s cell structures can weaken, leading to chronic inflammation.
So, if you wish to keep your gut in good shape, continue eating bananas every day. There are, of course, other foods that can improve gut health such as yogurt, almonds, apples, asparagus, sauerkraut, olive oil, and whole grains. At the same time, ultra-processed foods with lower probiotic diversity can be harmful to your gut. Read our article on 4 Foods That Are the Worst Offenders For Your Gut Health for more information.
Bananas are easily available in all seasons, are super affordable, and also offer a host of other benefits. Now, you have an extra reason to add this amazing fruit to your daily diet!
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