Eating a banana helps to control the effect of salt/sodium on your body because of the potassium content of bananas. The mineral helps to regulate how salt affects your system. Studies show that the high amounts of potassium in one banana eaten daily, (more than 13% of the RDA), that one banana daily also can lower one's blood pressure. Bananas may help lower your risk of stroke, since strokes are inherited and run in families.
If your family members had strokes, you're four times as likely to inherit the predisposition to get them. But you can lower your risk of stroke with diet, lifestyle changes and certain exercises (not weight lifting), by up to 80 percent. Bananas and other plant foods can help. Even if you get a stroke at the same age as your close relative did, it may not be as severe. Keep eating those bananas (in moderation) and those green leafy and other plant foods (not fried potatoes or other fried foods).
A University of Michigan study revealed that bananas can potentially protect against an HIV infection
See the news articles, Discovery Health "Will Bananas Prevent HIV?" "Banana Compound Inhibits HIV Transmission | Worldhealth.net," and "Chemical in bananas inhibits HIV infection." Also in the Sacramento and Davis area, the University of California studies the health benefits and use of bananas and other plant foods in its article, "Guide to low-sodium eating."
Besides eating a banana daily may help lower your blood pressure, help prevent your arteries from clogging, reduce your risk of strikes, and help keep your heart healthier, according to studies on the micronutrients and phytonutrients and other chemicals, compounds, antioxidants, minerals, and enzymes in fresh bananas.
For example, one banana has 11% of the RDA of dietary ﬁber and about 108 calories. The ﬁber in bananas helps to keep digestion regular. Even though there are natural sugars in bananas, the nutrients that work together in bananas help to maintain low blood sugar and makes you feel fuller so that you can eat less.
The potassium in the banana may help prevent bone weakening
Along with lowering blood pressure, potassium prevents the weakening of the body's bones. A high sodium intake can cause excessive amount of calcium to be lost through the urine. This calcium loss threatens not only the strength and general health of the bones, but also negatively affects blood clotting.
Loss of potassium in a balanced diet can affect proper muscle contraction and normal nervous system function. The potassium found in bananas neutralizes the high amounts of sodium in your diet. The balance also helps the calcium from the rest of your foods to stay in the body. Your goal would be to make sure what you eat keeps the calcium in your body in your bones and teeth and not in your arteries, glands, and organs that you don't want calcified.
Calcium absorption is promoted by the the saccharides in bananas
Bananas also contain high levels of fructooligosaccharide (FOS) that--along with insulin--promotes calcium absorption. FOS has a job nourishing healthy bacteria in the colon that manufacture vitamins and digestive enzymes. The result is an improvement in your body's ability to absorb nutrients.
Bananas also can help lessen that bout of diarrhea or constipation. The way this is done is that the potassium in the bananas replaces lost electrolytes that your diarrhea (or stomach flu vomiting) depleted. If you're constipated from lack of fiber in your diet or from taking any medications or calcium supplements, the banana can relieve constipation.
Bananas help curtail diarrhea and constipation due to the pectin content
The way the banana does this is by restoring a more balanced digestion because the banana contains pectin which is a soluble polysaccharide. It's those polysaccharides in the banana (and in some other fruits) that helps balance your digestive tract.
How the banana does all this balancing of digestion is that the banana's micronutrients and phytonutrients begin the production of mucus in the stomach. You need that mucus lining to protect your stomach against that burning sensation and eventual lesions from stomach acids.
If you examine bananas under a microscope or chemically take the phytonutrients apart in bananas, you'd see they contain protease inhibitors. The job of those inhibitors is to break down bacteria in the stomach that cause ulcers. You can read the study of how the protease inhibitor in bananas stop the reproduction of various viruses and specialized cells such as the HIV microbe.
Banana lectin identified as HIV inhibitor by University of Michigan Scientists
If you want to find out how bananas may prevent sexual transmission of the HIV microbe, check out the news about such a study done which appears in the March 15, 2010 news release, "University of Michigan scientists identify chemical in bananas as potent inhibitor of HIV." A potent new inhibitor of HIV, derived from bananas, may open the door to new treatments to prevent sexual transmission of HIV, according to a University of Michigan Health System Medical School study published the week of March 15, 2010.
Scientists have an emerging interest in lectins, naturally occurring chemicals in plants, because of their ability to halt the chain of reaction that leads to a variety of infections. Check out the article, Banana lectin identified as HIV inhibitor by UM scientists | University of Michigan. In 2010 scientists reported the discovery of how the lectin named 'BanLec' for banana lectin binds to the key HIV-1 protein and opens door to developing microcides that can prevent sexual transmission of HIV.
A microcide is able to kill a microbe
And a lectin is a sugar-binding protein. Some viruses use lectins to attach themselves to the cells of the host organism during infection. The way you disable a lectin is by using a certain type of mono- and oligosaccharide, which bind to them and prevent their attachment to cell membranes. So basically, in laboratory tests, (not in the human body) BanLec, the lectin found in bananas, was as potent as two current anti-HIV drugs.
Based on the findings published March 19 2010 in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, BanLec may become a less expensive new component of applied vaginal microbicides, researchers say, according to the news release. New ways of stopping the spread of the HIV are vitally needed. The rate of new infections of HIV is outpacing the rate of new individuals getting anti-retroviral drugs by 2.5 to1, and at present it appears an effective vaccine is years away.
"HIV is still rampant in the U.S. and the explosion in poorer countries continues to be a bad problem because of tremendous human suffering and the cost of treating it," says study senior author David Marvovitz, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, according to the March 15, 2010 news release, "University of Michigan scientists identify chemical in bananas as potent inhibitor of HIV."
Although condom use is quite effective, condoms are most successful in preventing infection if used consistently and correctly, which is often not the case. "That's particularly true in developing countries where women have little control over sexual encounters so development of a long-lasting, self-applied microbicide is very attractive," Markovitz explains in the news release.
Some of the most promising compounds for inhibiting vaginal and rectal HIV transmission are agents that block HIV prior to integration into its target cell. The new research describes the complex actions of lectins and their ability to outsmart HIV. Lectins are sugar-binding proteins. They can identify foreign invaders, like a virus, and attach themselves to the pathogen.
The University of Michigan team found the lectin in bananas can inhibit HIV infection
The U-M team discovered BanLec, the lectin in bananas, can inhibit HIV infection by binding to the sugar-rich HIV-1 envelope protein, gp120, and blocking its entry to the body. Co-authors Erwin J. Goldstein, Ph.D., professor emeritus of biological chemistry at U-M and Harry C. Winter, Ph.D., research assistant professor in biological chemistry at U-M, developed the biopurification method to isolate BanLec from bananas. Following their work, the U-M team discovered BanLec is an effective anti-HIV lectin and is similar in potency to T-20 and maraviroc, two anti-HIV drugs currently in clinical use.
Yet therapies using BanLec could be cheaper to create than current anti-retroviral medications which use synthetically produced components, plus BanLec may provide a wider range of protection, researchers say, according to the news release.
The HIV microbe can mutate and become resistant to drugs, but probably not to the natural lectin found in bananas
"The problem with some HIV drugs is that the virus can mutate and become resistant, but that's much harder to do in the presence of lectins," explains lead author Michael D. Swanson, a doctoral student in the graduate program in immunology at the University of Michigan Medical School, in the news release.
"Lectins can bind to the sugars found on different spots of the HIV-1 envelope, and presumably it will take multiple mutations for the virus to get around them," he says in the news release. Swanson is developing a process to molecularly alter BanLec to enhance its potential clinical utility. Clinical use is considered years away but researchers believe it could be used alone or with other anti-HIV drugs as a vaginal microbicide that prevents HIV infection.
Authors say even modest success could save millions of lives. Other investigators have estimated that 20 percent coverage with a microbicide that is only 60 percent effective against HIV may prevent up to 2.5 million HIV infections in three years. You can read the original study or its abstract, which is published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, Vol. 285, Issue 12. The authors include Michael D. Swanson, Harry C. Winter, Irwin J. Goldstein and David M. Markovitz, and all of U-M. Funding came from the National Institutes of Health and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.
What the protease inhibitor in bananas also does
The protease inhibitor in bananas also obstruct the replication of certain cells and viruses, including HIV. And studies were also done on the potential cancer prevention ability of bananas. You may also want to check out the large study by the International Journal of Cancer that reported on the probability of developing kidney cancer is greatly lessened by frequent consumption of fruits and vegetables, though especially bananas.
Why bananas instead of say, apples? For instance, the probability of developing kidney cancer in female subjects decreased by 50% when eating bananas four to six times a week in that study published in the International Journal of Cancer. In one study, consumption of bananas was reported at significantly lower levels in male esophagus cancer patients than in controls. But the men also reported low levels of eating bread and potatoes, not common in diets in the part of Asia (Singapore) these men lived in.
Bananas have a sizable amount of vitamin B6
You can get vitamin B6 from bananas, more than a third of your daily requirements. For example, one banana contains 34% of the RDA of vitamin B6. You need some vitamin B6 in your diet, but not too much. The job of vitamin B6 in bananas acts is to act as an anti-inﬂammatory agent. You don't want inflammation in your arteries. Inflammation often is found in people with cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and obesity.
Vitamin B6 helps to keep your lymph glands in balance. If your lymph glands are normal, you have a balanced production of white blood cells that fight infection. So you don't want infection and inflammation to take over your body from lack of vitamin B6 or you body not being able to absorb vitamin B6 from foods or supplements.
You don't want excess vitamin B from too many supplements or it may damage your nervous system. So don't take too many supplements with vitamin B6 that piles up in your body. A balanced amount of B6 protects your nervous system and helps your T-cells, those white blood cells fight infection. Usually eating one banana daily is enough. You don't want to overload your blood stream with sugar surges from too many bananas and/or other fruits, either. The key is balance.
Resources on micronutrients in foods
Associations between 5,10-methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase codon 677 and 1298 genetic polymorphisms and environmental factors with reference to susceptibility to colorectal cancer: A case-control study in an Indian population
Resources on the study of bananas and inhibition of HIV infections