One Major Effect Bananas Have on Your Gut, Says Science

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If you’re uncertain about how good for you bananas really are (thanks to questions about their sugar content, actual potassium level, and debates like these), here’s the possible final verdict: A new study reveals why this easy-to-grab, versatile fruit may be an official thumbs-up for your diet. This weekend, digestion and nutrition researchers in Australia are highlighting one benefit of bananas you almost certainly didn’t know.

Get ready to peel back the layers to better understand how this mighty fruit is so good for your tummy—and if you find this interesting, you may also also want to check out This Popular Juice May Reduce Your Skin Cancer Risk, New Study Says.

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For an analysis just published Saturday in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, seven medical and university researchers in Melbourne have collaborated—each specializing in gastroenterology, dietetics, or nutrition.

They performed a review of past studies to help determine the roles of diet and the gut microbiome on gastroenterological diseases such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome and more.

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One of the hardest-hitting points these researchers make is this: “Dietary factors in early life appear to substantially determine the risk of later health or disease.”

They continue: “For example exposure to ultra-processed foods in childhood or adolescence may increase the risk of the later development of inflammatory bowel disease or colorectal cancer, thought to be mediated by modulation of the gut microbiota.”

RELATED: This Food Is Becoming a Bigger Allergy Threat Than Nuts, Data Says

The researchers reinforce research that has suggested diets high in animal fats, alcohol, processed foods, and sugary drinks are associated with higher rates of colorectal cancer and disorders that cause inflammation in the intestines and other parts of the digestive system.

On the other hand, the authors point to gastroenterological research which has shown that eating programs like the Crohn’s Disease Exclusion Diet can be effective means to reduce symptoms of gut dysbiosis. They say the Crohn’s Disease Exclusion Diet in particular removes red meat, dairy, and wheat, and calls for daily intake of higher-fiber plant foods—specifying potatoes, apples, and bananas among these.

It’s commonly known that apples are high in fiber, and also disease-fighting antioxidants… but why were bananas included on this beneficial gut health list? Keep reading.

RELATED: One Major Effect Eating Fiber Has on Your Liver, New Study Says

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If you needed one more reason to slice a banana into your cereal, smoothie, or oatmeal, the authors of this study explain that the banana is a prebiotic food which provides fiber and resistant starch for the body to produce butyrate.

Why does this matter? Healthline explains that butyrate, also known as butyric acid, is one of three main fatty acids in the gut. In studies, healthy levels of this fatty acid have been associated with reduced abdominal discomfort for individuals with irritable bowel syndrome.

In one 2016 study, butyrate was also associated with a possible lower risk of developing colon cancer.

RELATED: Major Effects Bananas Have on Your Health, Says Dietitian

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If you’re interested in learning more about how a healthy gut can affect the way you feel overall, read up on one biochemist’s explanation for how a healthy gut may prevent diabetes (plus her whole list of foods to promote gut wellness).

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