Tuesday, April 30, 2013

People are Bananas--Part 3

Part one of the coverage of this infographic covered here.
Part two of coverage of this infographic is covered here.

17) Help body deliver oxygen to the brain.  Bananas do not do anything special to carry oxygen to the brain, but you do have to have unblocked arteries so that you can get blood, and therefore red blood cells, to carry oxygen to the brain.  What we have here is a repeat of #14 again in that a higher potassium intake might reduce your risk of stroke.

18) Fights depression and anxiety.  Bananas do contain serotonin, and some people who have depression have a shortage of this, but the serotonin found in the banana does not cross the blood-brain barrier.  If someone has been eating poorly, eating a banana or another carbohydrate rich food might give them a temporary sense of well being, but it won't last.  Bananas could be worked in to an otherwise healthy meal plan to help overall depression but they are not a cure unto themselves.

19) Reduce menstrual pain.  Bananas do actually contain B6, which has been used to treat dysmennorhea or "painful periods."  But keep in mind that the supplement given contained 200 mg of vitamin B6, and bananas only contain 0.4 mg.  So, unless you want to try to down 500 bananas a day during your period you might want to just try a supplement (and let your doctor know what you are doing). (Link).  I have actually seen some people mention that the potassium in the bananas helps; I think what happened is that they heard about a medication called diclofenac potassium, which is an anti-inflammatory drug used to treat dysmennorhea, and made the leap that some how the potassium would help.

20) Reduces itches and pain of bug bites (peel).  Lots of anecdotal information on this one, but no studies that I could find.  I wouldn't recommend trying this if you have already scratched and have an open wound though.

21) Anti-inflammatory.  If the inflammation is in the digestive tract, as in a condition like Crohn's disease, bananas may be one of the foods that doesn't aggravate the problem at least (Link).  If your problem is a condition like rhuematoid arthritis, or you are worried about arterial inflammation increasing your risk for a cardio vascular event, there isn't any evidence.  I was also amused to find on certain complimentary medicine boards that people were actually calling bananas pro-inflammatory!

22) May prevent kidney cancer.  Some observational studies, and if you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that observational studies are only useful for finding correlations for further study, showed a lower risk of renal (kidney) cancer with a higher fruit and vegetable consumption period.  I have had some patients who will only eat bananas, so I guess whatever works for you to help increase your fruit and vegetable intake.

23) Help curb sugar cravings.  If you reach for a small banana instead of the bag of cookies, you might be able to satisfy your desire for something sweet with less calories/carbohydrates.  But if you are like me you better clear the sweets out of the house in the first place.  You will also need to think about what is causing the craving in the first place--like waiting too long to eat, not eating an adequate amount of protein and good fats, etc.  I wish there was a special substance in the banana that helped me eat better, but there isn't.

24) Prevent age related macular degneration.  Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables will help, but bananas aren't necessarily the best sources of the vitamins and minerals focused on by eye specialists.

Whew.  If you are still with me you are waiting for today's take home message--Bananas are good sources of potassium which might help reduce risk of stroke and related problems, but there are other lower calorie/carbohydrate ways to do so.

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