Why Do Bananas Hurt My Stomach?

Bananas are quite healthy and loved by many. But for some, bananas lead to serious stomach pain, cramping and discomfort. The first time it happens, you might wonder if the banana is bad or unripe. But if it happens over and over, it’s possible that a banana allergy or intolerance is at play. Consult your doctor if you experience severe pain after eating a banana for the diagnosis of underlying problems.

Why Do Bananas Hurt My Stomach?

1.   Ripeness

How ripe a banana is affects not only the taste, but also the digestion in your body. A study from 1986 found that unripe bananas have 12 times the amount of starch as ripe bananas. Foods that have a high amount of starch can be tough to digest, and that can lead to bloating and pain, quite similar to a sore stomach. If ripeness is the issue, simply avoid green bananas and wait until they are ripe to eat them.

2.   Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Those who suffer from IBS might deal with everything from diarrhea to sharp cramps and more. Some people find that certain foods trigger their IBS symptoms; that’s the case with bananas which can cause serious problems for some. Because it’s tough to know the real answer to "why do bananas hurt my stomach", experts recommend that those who suffer from IBS avoid eating bananas at all.

3.   Too Much Fiber

Bananas have a high-fiber content of about 3.5 grams in each large one. A great deal of fiber can cause stomach pain, especially for those who aren’t accustomed to it. If you have problems with too much fiber but you still like bananas, add them very slowly to your diet.

4.   Banana Allergy

Some people are very allergic to bananas. They can’t tolerate chitinases, a protein enzyme that is abundant in bananas. When they eat the banana, the body acts in a way as though they act toward a pathogen. Those who are allergic to chitinases are usually also allergic to latex. Latex is included in many foods, including banana, kiwi, avocado, plantain and even chestnuts.

5.   Banana Intolerance

Those with banana intolerance have trouble handling the serotonin in the banana. The intolerance might include increased heart rate, headache, skin redness and stomach cramping. The initial reactions can occur within minutes or take a few hours. The severity usually depends on how much was eaten as well as how much histamine metabolizing enzyme is in your body at the time. The intolerance can become worse over time, so you should discuss your condition with your doctor.

What to Do with the Banana Allergies and Intolerance

"Why do bananas hurt my stomach" might be answered by allergies or intolerance, but the fact is that there is no remedy for the problem. Those who have severe banana allergies must avoid bananas altogether or risk life-threatening problems. Adrenaline injections can help the serious anaphylactic shock that might occur. Asthmatic reactions can be treated with antihistamines. Either way, serious reactions call for a visit to the emergency room.

Those who are banana intolerant must avoid bananas simply to avoid pain. For some people, heating up the banana seems to make the problem less severe, so some might be able to eat bananas in banana bread, for example. However, before trying this, consult with a medical professional about the best way to handle the intolerance.

More to Know About Eating Bananas

  • Bananas offer numerous vitamins and minerals; if you can’t eat bananas, make sure you are getting ample nutrition elsewhere.
  • When avoiding bananas, beware of the items in which they might be cooked – sometimes they are tough to spot. Read ingredient labels to be sure.
  • If you’re not sure the reaction to bananas, ask your doctor for a skin prick test. This will determine your reaction to certain foods. If you are allergic to that particular food, a bump will rise on the skin where the needle was pressed.
  • A blood test might also help screen how the immune system handles a particular food. If you are asking ‘why do bananas hurt my stomach’ but you aren’t entirely sure it’s bananas, you can have a blood test to help determine if bananas are really the culprit.

You Are Not Alone

It is important to understand that you are not the only one with the problem. Here are other people's stories.

"I had a banana for breakfast this morning and by the time I got to work, I was feeling nausea and terrible cramping. It happened when I had pineapple a few weeks ago, and I thought it was a fluke, but now I’m not so sure. Could this be an allergy? I can have lots of banana stuff, like smoothies with a banana base, with no problems. But if I simply eat a banana and nothing else, I get awfully sick. Could it just be that the banana isn’t ripe enough?"

"I used to get horrible cramps from time to time, and I finally figured out it was the bananas. Smoothies used to bother me too, and then I realized that almost every one of them has banana in it! That’s what they use as the base for all the other yummy stuff. Here’s what’s interesting: When I had my appendix out, my banana problem seemed to vanish. Now I can eat them all the time. I have no idea where the connection comes from, but it’s obviously there."

 
 
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