Do you experience stomach cramps or discomfort after eating bananas? You’re not alone. While bananas are a popular and healthy snack, they can sometimes cause digestive issues.
Read on to discover the top five reasons why bananas may give you stomach cramps and explore our simple remedies to alleviate the discomfort.
1. Banana Allergy
A true banana allergy is rare, affecting just 0.6% of the population according to the National Institutes of Health. While usually causing hives, swelling, or itching, a banana allergy can cause stomach pain and nausea.
Chitinase is a protein found in bananas that can trigger an allergic response. The immune system may mistake chitinase as harmful, causing stomach pain within an hour or so of eating them.
2. Banana Intolerance
A banana intolerance is different from an allergy and is often caused by difficulties in digesting amines – an important component of the fruit.
Some people struggle to produce an enzyme called diamine oxidase. Without this enzyme, amines can’t be broken down and digested easily. This leads to stomach pain, bloating, and excess gas.
3. Fructose Intolerance
Naturally high in fructose – a type of sugar – bananas can cause stomach pain for those people who don’t produce the enzyme needed to break down fructose in the gut.
Eating bananas sparingly and pairing them with foods that slow down fructose absorption, like nuts or yogurt, may alleviate symptoms.
4. Eating Unripe Bananas
Unripe bananas contain twelve times more resistant starch than ripe bananas. Unfortunately, this starch can be difficult for some people to digest.
Eating unripe bananas can cause gas and stomach cramps. Steer clear of firm, green bananas and choose ripe bananas with brown spots instead. These are softer and pass much more easily through the gut.
5. FODMAPs Sensitivity
Bananas contain fermented sugars called FODMAPs. These sugars are usually broken down by bacteria in your gut. But if you don’t have enough of the right bacteria to do this, digestion becomes trickier than it should be. Bananas contain a type of FODMAP called fructans, which can cause bloating, gas, and stomach cramps.
How to Prevent an Upset Stomach When Eating Bananas
- Choose ripe bananas: As bananas ripen, their FODMAP and resistant starch levels decrease, making them much gentler on the stomach.
- Pair with other foods: Combining bananas with foods high in protein or healthy fats can slow down digestion and reduce the likelihood of stomach discomfort. Think bananas with blueberries and yogurt for breakfast or banana slices and peanut butter for a snack.
- Limit portion size: You don’t have to eat a whole banana in one go. Try eating smaller portions and see how your body reacts. Finding a balance and eating in moderation may be key to preventing your pain.
What Soothes an Upset Stomach After Eating Banana?
- Ginger tea: Known for its soothing properties, ginger tea can help ease stomach cramps and discomfort.
- Peppermint oil: Peppermint oil is antispasmodic and eases colic-type pain. Adding a drop of peppermint oil to warm water can provide relief from bloating and gas.
- Chamomile tea: Chamomile has anti-inflammatory effects and may help calm an upset stomach.
What to Do If You Think You Have a Banana Allergy or Intolerance
- Take a food intolerance test: If you suspect a banana intolerance, consider taking an at-home food intolerance test to provide peace of mind.
- Start a food diary: Your stomach cramps may have other dietary causes. Start a food diary and monitor for four weeks. See if you can spot any correlation between your pain and what you eat.
- Avoid bananas altogether: Until you receive a definitive diagnosis, it’s best to avoid eating bananas. By eliminating bananas from your diet, you may quickly see an improvement in your stomach pain.
- Assess your fiber intake: Bananas are a rich source of fiber which is good for a healthy diet. However, having too much can cause stomach cramps. Limit your intake of fibrous foods to lower your roughage intake.
While bananas can be a healthy addition to a diet, not everyone can tolerate them. Being high in FODMAPs, sugars, and fructose means bananas can cause stomach cramps for some people with more sensitive digestion.
If you suspect that your stomach cramps are caused by a banana intolerance, buy a clinically-validated intolerance test from Allergy Test and develop more of an understanding of your symptoms.