Bananas may help relieve rather than cause constipation. Unripe bananas, in particular, contain compounds that are beneficial to gut health.

When a person experiences constipation, they may have difficulty passing stool, pass fewer stools than usual, or pass stools that are lumpy, hard, or dry.

Bananas contain dietary fiber. However, the exact fiber content can depend on how ripe the banana is when a person eats it. A person’s dietary fiber intake may affect their bowel habits.

This article examines bananas and constipation, discussing their effects on a person’s digestive system and bowel habits. It also explores foods that may cause constipation and those that may help ease its symptoms. Finally, the article discusses when to consider speaking with a healthcare professional.

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There is no definitive research to suggest whether bananas cause or relieve constipation, as each person’s digestive system may respond to the fruits differently.

However, researchers have looked into the effects of the carbohydrates in bananas on the digestive system and bowel habits. Some of the findings suggest that bananas may be beneficial for relieving constipation.

Ripeness of bananas

Bananas at different stages of ripeness have different nutritional profiles. This means they may have different effects on digestive health and bowel habits.

Evidence shows that as bananas ripen, the resistant starch (RS) and total dietary fiber decrease, and the sugars increase.

RS is a type of carbohydrate that resists digestion by enzymes in part of the gastrointestinal tract. Studies included in a 2021 review suggest that RS may act as a prebiotic, and including it in the diet may benefit a person’s gut microbiome.

Benefits of green bananas for constipation

As they are less ripe, green bananas have a high RS content, and some studies have investigated their effects on bowel habits.

A 2019 review of research indicated that green banana pulp has beneficial effects on both constipation and diarrhea. However, the researchers noted that there is no standard dose or ripeness for different age groups, and the influence of bananas on bowel movements is unclear. Therefore, further research into the topic is necessary.

Similarly, a 2019 study found that green banana biomass, which is a product of banana processing, was effective at relieving constipation in children and adolescents. The authors also suggested that it could help reduce the use of laxatives in constipation treatment.

Individuals should note that green bananas are generally less palatable than riper fruits as the flesh is harder and not as sweet.

Other research on bananas and constipation

An older 2014 study on mice indicated that bananas may accelerate the movement of stool through the gastrointestinal tract and improve constipation symptoms. However, bananas may not act the same way in humans.

Other older research from 2011 suggests that bananas have no adverse effects on bowel habits in healthy individuals and may reduce abdominal bloating.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) advises people to avoid eating foods with little to no fiber to help prevent constipation. This includes:

  • processed foods
  • ready-prepared meals
  • packaged snack foods
  • meat
  • fast food
  • chips

The NIDDK recommends that people eat enough fiber to help prevent constipation. This may include the following foods:

In addition, people should ensure they drink enough fluids, such as water, unsweetened beverages, or herbal teas. This may help soften stools and make them easier to pass.

People with constipation that does not resolve should contact a doctor who can advise them about their diet and recommend medications or other treatments, if necessary.

Sometimes, constipation may be due to an underlying condition. Therefore, a person should speak with a healthcare professional as they can recommend diagnostic tests, if necessary.

Additionally, a person should contact a healthcare professional before making any significant changes to their diet.

Bananas are a source of fiber, which may help relieve constipation. However, riper bananas typically contain more sugar and less fiber. Therefore, some people with constipation may wish to try greener bananas.

To prevent and relieve constipation, people can eat a diet that includes varied sources of fiber, such as vegetables, whole grains, and nuts. It is also important to drink plenty of fluids.

People with constipation that does not resolve can speak with a doctor for further guidance. Additionally, a person should speak with a healthcare professional before making significant changes to their diet.