One of the most popular questions I get asked is ‘do bananas cause constipation?’
Your friends may have even told you to eat bananas to help with constipation. ‘It thickens up your poop.’
This is confusing information since bananas can also be high in FODMAPs. They can worsen IBS right?
In this article I am going to explain whether bananas help or worsen constipation.
Table of Contents
Bananas Contain FODMAPS
FODMAPs are types of fermentable carbohydrates that are broken down by gut bacteria in the large bowel.
The process of FODMAPs breaking down is called fermentation. Fermentation creates gas, so you may feel bloated.
FODMAPs also draw in extra water. This leads to loose stools in some people, but not constipation.
The type of FODMAP bananas contain is called fructans. These do not cause constipation.
To avoid symptoms of bloating and loose stool, opt for greener bananas.
Bananas Contain Resistant Starch
Bananas contain resistant starch which could be beneficial for constipation.
Resistant starch is a form of starch which cannot be digested in the small intestine. The starch is then digested in the large bowel by gut bacteria.
People with IBS may find that bananas worsen their symptoms. This is because the gut bacteria will give off gas during this digestive process.
Resistant starch content of different types of bananas (2);
- Ripe bananas – contain 0.98g / portion
- Green bananas – contain 6.80g / portion
If you are following the low FODMAP diet, then you will now be confused. Green bananas are low FOMDAP but high in resistant starches.
I always advise clients to eat bananas which are only slightly green to avoid this issue.
Bananas Are High in Fibre
Another reason bananas do not cause constipation is due to their high fibre content.
For optimal gut health, you should have 30g of fibre / day (3).
1 banana packs an impressive 3g of fibre (4). This makes it an ideal snack to help prevent constipation.
How Can I Incorporate Bananas into my Diet?
There are several ways to eat bananas to help with constipation.
Here are 3 of my top tips;
- Opt for a banana which is slightly green.
- Add to any breakfast – oatmeal, toast, cereal.
- Take in your bag as an easy snack.
Bananas do not cause constipation. In fact, they may have the opposite affect!
Eating bananas to your own tolerance level is good for gut bacteria and you should not avoid them.
Kirsten Jackson is a UK registered Consultant Gastroenterology Dietitian and founder of The Food Treatment Clinic. She has undergone many qualifications to get where she is today, including a UK BSc Honours Degree in Dietetics and Post-Graduate Certificate in Advanced Dietetics. In addition to this, she has FODMAP Training from Kings College London University. Kirsten set up The Food Treatment Clinic in 2015 after first experiencing digestive problems herself. She felt that the NHS was unable to provide the support individuals needed and went on to specialise in this area before opening a bespoke IBS service. Kirsten also participates in charity work as an Expert Advisor for the IBS Network. In addition, she can be seen in publications such as Cosmopolitan and The Telegraph discussing IBS as an Official Media Spokesperson to the IBS Network.