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Bananas good for digestion?

Bananas can aid in digestion and improve gut health
Bananas can aid in digestion and improve gut health
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

If you suffer from digestive issues, adding fiber-rich bananas to your diet can improve bowel movements. Digestion involves breaking down food into smaller parts, so that they can readily be absorbed into the blood and excreted from the body.

Anything from swelling in the intestines to a bacterial infection can affect your digestive health. The potassium and fiber content of a banana makes it useful in alleviating or treating the symptoms of several digestive disorders.

Digestive Inflammation

Gastroenteritis is an infection in the stomach that causes inflammation in the digestive tract. Some of the common symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pains and nausea. Bananas sugars are easily digestible and can help you restore potassium and electrolytes lost in watery stools induced by diarrhea.

If you have gastroenteritis, the University of Illinois' McKinley Health Center recommends you eat bananas if you can tolerate a clear liquid diet. A banana can also be added to a smoothie, if the stomach is not ready for solid food sources.

Treating Indigestion

Indigestion is a common condition that is characterized by abdominal discomfort. Symptoms may include gas, belching, pain and an unpleasant feeling of fullness after eating. The NYU Langone Medical Center, reports that a study that found 75 percent of 46 people who used banana powder to treat indigestion reported complete or partial relief of symptoms.

On the other hand, unripe bananas can cause indigestion. "Plant Foods for Human Nutrition" published a report that states unripe bananas can have up to 49 percent of resistant starch content of which 28 percent is available. The digestive system cannot process these starches efficiently, which can lead to indigestion.

Keep Bowels Healthy

Eating bananas daily can help keep your bowel movements regular and help avoid digestive problems. One large banana has 3.5 grams of fiber, which aids your digestion process. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool and helps clear your system of food particles that are harder to digest.

About half of a banana's total fiber content is insoluble. The soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel, which helps slow down digestion and normalize bowel movements.. The Institute of Medicine recommends the average person gets about 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed.

Potassium & Digestion

Bananas are a good source of potassium, which plays an important role in digestion. Muscles contract in the digestive tract to push partially digested food out of the system. The smooth muscle in the gastrointestinal tract contracts and relaxes to create wavelike movement, which forces food out the system.

Potassium helps muscles contract and relax efficiently by conducting electricity in body fluids and nerve transmissions. Eating bananas can help you reach the 4,700 milligrams of potassium per day recommended by the The Institute of Medicine.