Monday, April 29, 2013

People are still bananas--Part 2

Are we ready for Part 2 of the misleading infographics like this one?  Covered the first section in this post.
9) Anti-diabetic.  A substance that is anti-diabetic is something, usually a drug, that actively lowers the blood glucose.  Since a banana, like any other fruit, contains carbohydrate it will actually raise the blood glucose levels.  A seven inch banana will contribute roughly 15 grams of carbohydrate so it will need to be counted as part of your meal time allotment if you are controlling your levels with diet; once again each person will have to test his/her own blood sugar to determine if this is a safe food.

10) Enhance nutrient absorption.  I wonder which ones they are talking about?  Possibly they are talking about the vitamin C in bananas helping with iron absorption?  If so, there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables like oranges, apples, red peppers, etc that can do just as well.

11) Fight obesity.  How exactly do they do that I wonder?  I have seen some websites talk about how the fiber in the banana is satiating, but then in the next paragraph they will turn around and state that they are easily digested and good for weight gain.  Small bananas could be part of your fiber allotment, but the contribution to satiety is variable and of course bananas don't cause you to burn more fat.  Since bananas do come in a variety of sizes I have seen people have more trouble working this in to their calorie/carbohydrate allotment.  

12) Heartburn remedy.  There was a small study done in India back in 1990 hat used a banana powder to treat GERD, but that is not the same as eating a whole banana.  Anecdotally, some people complain of worse GERD symptoms after eating bananas.  If you are unable to handle too much fructose, like yours truly, it could be that the resulting intestinal gas puts pressure on the lower esophageal sphincter.   There does not seem to be any harm in trying the banana powder for GERD as long as you are working to find out what is causing the problem.

13) Help maintain regular heartbeat. If your body is depleted of potassium (hypokalemia) you could develop an irregular heart beat, but potassium depletion is usually caused by illness (think of a bad bout of diarrhea), or by a medication (think of someone with advanced heart failure who takes high doses of diuretics to keep from retaining fluid); potassium depletion is rarely caused by lack of it in the diet.  Quite often people who take certain diuretics need to take potassium supplements because they cannot eat enough bananas or other potassium foods to keep up with the losses.  One should never take a potassium supplement (other than the little bit found in a multivitamin) unless you are under the direction of a physicican as a dangerous condition called hyperkalemia (too much potassium in the blood) could result (and that will definitely cause irregular heart beat).

14) Reduce the risk of stroke. Looks like this is referring to an observational study published about 11 years ago noting a correlation between higher potassium intake and lower risk of stroke.  Of course we have to remember that correlation does not equal causation, as even the authors of the study said, and remember that you can also get potassium from all meats, fish like salmon, avocados, apricots, legumes, leafy greens, etc.  I suppose bananas might be a convenient source for some, but not the only one. (Link)

15)  Reduce symptoms of nicotine withdraw.  I was unable to find any good evidence here for the various nutrients found in bananas actually helping.  Some people do experience nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea as part of the withdraw, however, and the potassium found in the bananas could help replete the losses of potassium.

16) Lower blood pressure.   This is related to #14 in that your potassium intake helps, but there are other foods besides bananas that you can eat.

Take home message for today--bananas can be a convenient source of potassium, of which an adequate intake is needed to possibly lower your risk of stroke and help control blood pressure.  Banana powder might help people with GERD.

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