Heartburn, also commonly known as acid reflux, is a condition that occurs when there is a backflow of stomach acids into the esophagus. This event usually causes a burning sensation around the chest and throat. The burning sensation you experience is a typical symptom of acid reflux. It can be uncomfortable and severe enough to interfere with everyday activities.
Although there are various ways to treat frequent heartburn, including taking OTC and prescription medications, some people prefer natural or home remedies. One food that is often recommended for alleviating heartburn is bananas. However, are bananas good for heartburn?
What Causes Heartburn?
Before we dive into all the sciency bits of bananas as a treatment for heartburn, you need to understand what causes heartburn in the first place. Knowing this will help you understand the potential benefits of bananas for heartburn.
The stomach has a muscle known as the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) that separates the stomach from the esophagus. When this muscle relaxes, stomach acid can flow back into the esophagus, causing you to experience a burning sensation.
Various foods can cause a person to experience heartburn. This list includes citrus fruits, spicy foods, and fried foods. Other causes of heartburn include eating large meals, lying down a few minutes after eating, or wearing tight-fitting clothing. Foods that can trigger a reflux action include fatty meats and fried foods.
Beverages, like coffee and drinks containing alcohol, can also cause heartburn. Medical conditions, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), are also known to cause heartburn.
An effective way to prevent this issue is to make healthy dietary choices like featuring whole grains, fresh fruit, lean proteins, healthy fats, and low-acid foods. Also, try to eat small meals more frequently and avoid trigger foods. Drink water or herbal tea to neutralize stomach acid, or eat bananas!
Read also: Does Decaf Coffee Cause Heartburn?
Can Bananas Help Prevent Heartburn And Acid Reflux?
Regarding acidic foods, bananas are pretty low on the pH scale, making them a less acidic food option. Bananas have a pH of about 5.6, considered neutral on the pH scale. This means that bananas are not likely to cause heartburn, as they do not stimulate the production of stomach acid.
Benefits Of Bananas As Anti-Reflux, Anti-Heartburn
The health benefits of bananas are many, some of which are well-known. For instance, bananas can help strengthen bones, lower blood pressure, and much more. But how do bananas help minimize GERD symptoms?
Bananas Are Great For Digestion
People typically suffer acid reflux symptoms because of impaired digestion. Indigestion results in several problems, including belching, bloating, or gas. These issues usually cause food in the gut to back up the food pipe. Any measure you take to promote good gut health can also help you manage GERD. Bananas are known to help prevent acid reflux and improve gut health.
Bananas Are Natural Antacids
Bananas are natural antacids as they contain essential elements like proteins and potassium. The potassium in bananas gives them an alkaline nature, which is how they fight acid reflux. Bananas also contain sulfur, another essential element that aids digestion. Besides these, it contains protease inhibitors that rid the gut of dangerous bacteria. Additionally, bananas are a great source of vitamin B, a mineral that helps strengthen your esophagus.
Prebiotics In Bananas Help Gut Probiotics Thrive
There is prebiotics in bananas that encourage probiotics to thrive in the gut. Prebiotics are a food source for these critical organisms. Prebiotics aid in the fermentation of good bacteria. This process helps prevent acid reflux. This is important because your gut needs to operate at optimum at all times. A proper balance of gut bacteria helps maintain good health in the stomach and keeps your tummy in good working order.
Bananas Are A Rich Source Of Fiber
The fiber content in bananas helps to strengthen gut health and digestion. In bananas, you will find soluble fiber called pectin, whose job is to transfer stomach content into the digestive system. Pectin encourages bowel movement and prevents any lingering that might cause constipation.
When food sticks around in your gut, the stomach continues generating acid. However, if you consume bananas, their soluble fiber will prevent acid reflux.
Bananas Can Protect Against Or Even Alleviate Ulcers
Bananas contain elements that can help fortify gastric mucosa, protecting it from being eaten away by gut acid. The mucosa is a lining that allows food easily roll through the gut. This, researchers believe, can prevent your stomach from developing ulcers.
Unlike spicy foods, which can irritate the esophagus and cause heartburn, bananas are a much milder option; they are low in acidity. Trigger foods such as spicy meals can trigger heartburn by stimulating the production of stomach acid, which can flow back into the esophagus. Bananas, on the other hand, do not have this effect.
Bananas Are Full Of Fibers
In addition to being low in acidity, bananas are also a good source of fiber. They are considered whole-grain food, which is beneficial for the digestive tract. Fiber helps to bulk up your stool, preventing constipation and other digestive issues. This can be especially helpful for people with heartburn, as constipation can sometimes make heartburn symptoms worse.
Eating Bananas Helps Raise Gut pH
Eating foods low in acidity can help minimize acid reflux. The FDA notes that bananas have pH levels between 5 and 5.29. As such, consuming bananas can help raise gut pH. Ripes bananas, for instance, have a pH of 5 and borders acidic. However, foods low in acidity are great at fighting reflux. In a nutshell, bananas raise gut pH, reducing stomach acidity.
Does The Species Of Banana Matter?
There are many different kinds of bananas, and it’s sometimes apparent which is the best to fight acid reflux. All bananas are great at fighting acid reflux, but certain banana species are a little more alkaline than others. Baby and Burro types work exceptionally well against acid reflux.
These types have a pH between 7.3 and 7.6, the alkalinity range that encourages mucus to form and line the gut. This pH also enables the Lower Esophageal Sphincter to function at optimum.
What Is The pH Of Ripe Bananas?
Are ripe bananas acidic or alkaline? The pH of ripe bananas is about 7.6, but this generally varies from species to species. For instance, red bananas and the Cavendish type are primarily acidic, especially when ripe. Their starch content contributes to their acidic nature, which is highest when completely ripe. But, generally speaking, ripe bananas are alkaline and do not cause acid reflux.
What Is The pH Of Raw Bananas?
Green or raw bananas typically taste grassy and acidic because of their high starch content. The acidity of green bananas depended on species and ripeness. Their pH ranges between 4.5 and 5.2. Enzyme and oxalic content also influence the edge of unripe bananas, which varies from species to species and ripeness.
Are Cooked Bananas Alkaline Or Acidic?
Cooked bananas have slightly less starch than green or ripe bananas. As such, they are less alkaline but not acidic, either. However, note that their alkalinity depends on how they are cooked. Some people love them boiled, baked, or fried. The fried kind has a shallow potassium content and is thus acidic. Frying decreases potassium content by up to 40 percent.
Are Bananas Good For Heartburn Summary
Bananas make a good choice for those who suffer frequent heartburn. They contain minimal acidity, which is why they are excellent at reducing acid production while providing high fiber content. This characteristic of bananas is why they are said to be great at protecting your stomach lining. Another effective way to beat acid reflux is by making lifestyle changes and eating diets with very few fatty foods.