Could it be the ba­nanas?

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR HEALTH - Dr Libby will be speak­ing across the coun­try dur­ing Oc­to­ber. Visit www.dr­ for more in­for­ma­tion and to buy tick­ets.

I have a bit of a strange query but I find when I con­sume ba­nanas I feel like I tend to­wards con­sti­pa­tion, is there any truth to this? Thank you, Felic­ity.

Hi Felic­ity. Un­for­tu­nately con­sti­pa­tion is ac­tu­ally a rel­a­tively com­mon health prob­lem. It’s typ­i­cally char­ac­terised by ir­reg­u­lar bowel move­ments and hard stools that can be difficult to pass.

There can be many dif­fer­ent reasons why peo­ple ex­pe­ri­ence con­sti­pa­tion, rang­ing from poor di­etary habits, a diet lack­ing in fibre, de­hy­dra­tion, to not mov­ing their body enough.

I have had a num­ber of pa­tients that iden­ti­fied that con­sum­ing ba­nanas caused con­sti­pa­tion, while others have said they help pre­vent it.

To see if it re­ally is the ba­nanas be­hind your con­sti­pa­tion, re­move them for two weeks and see if the con­sti­pa­tion re­solves. You may (or may not) want to add them back to then see if the con­sti­pa­tion re­turns. Everyone is dif­fer­ent in their re­sponse to foods. Green ba­nanas are a good source of re­sis­tant starch, this starch acts like sol­u­ble fibre, and gen­er­ally helps to rem­edy con­sti­pa­tion.

Di­etary fibre is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of bowel reg­u­lar­ity, as is drinking enough wa­ter, mov­ing reg­u­larly and ex­plor­ing gut health.

Gen­er­ally speak­ing, di­etary fibre comes from the ed­i­ble parts of plants or car­bo­hy­drates that re­sist digestion and ab­sorp­tion in the small in­tes­tine.

Some of this fibre then goes on to be bro­ken down (fer­mented) by bac­te­ria in the large in­tes­tine. There are two forms:

SOL­U­BLE FIBRE Sol­u­ble fibre is typ­i­cally found in some legumes, veg­eta­bles, fruit, chia seeds, nuts, oats, and psyl­lium.

Sol­u­ble fibre at­tracts wa­ter, swells, and forms a gel. It by­passes digestion in the small in­tes­tine and is fer­mented by bac­te­ria in the large in­tes­tine. The bac­te­ria in our gut fer­ment sol­u­ble fibre into short chain fatty acids. Sol­u­ble fibre can slow down the digestion of food.

INSOLUBLE FIBRE This is found in whole grains, rice (brown), seeds, fruit and veg­eta­bles. Insoluble fi­bres are not wa­ter-sol­u­ble and do not form gels. Insoluble fibre adds roughage, which helps to bulk stools. I amtry­ing to con­vince my fam­ily to do their bit and re­duce their use of plas­tic. What are you top tips for any­one to use less plas­tic? Thanks, Sharon.

Hi Sharon. Thank you for ask­ing such a fab­u­lous ques­tion! The won­der­ful thing is that even small changes make a dif­fer­ence, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to re­duc­ing the im­pact of plas­tics on our world. Re­duc­ing your con­sump­tion of plas­tic in ev­ery­day life, and en­cour­ag­ing others to do the same doesn’t have to be difficult. Here is a se­lec­tion of just a few things you can do to re­duce your im­pact: 1. Use re­us­able pro­duce bags; it has been re­ported that a sin­gle plas­tic bag can take be­tween 20 to 1,000 years to de­grade. Con­sider how many you have in your cup­board at home! 2. Stop us­ing plas­tic straws, they’re sin­gle use and not nec­es­sary. 3. When­ever pos­si­ble if pur­chas­ing prod­ucts opt for prod­ucts in boxes or with re­cy­clable and com­postable pack­ag­ing. Bet­ter still, choose as much as you can with­out pack­ag­ing. 4. Pur­chase foods in bulk to avoid us­ing ad­di­tional pack­ag­ing. 5. Pur­chase a re­us­able cup/travel mug if you buy hot bev­er­ages from cafes.

Remember every time you pur­chase some­thing you are cast­ing a vote for the kind of world you want to live in.

Try re­mov­ing ba­nanas from your diet for a few weeks to see if that is the cause of con­sti­pa­tion.

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