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Do Bananas Make You Poop Or Cause Constipation? Experts Weigh In

Abby Moore
Author: Medical reviewer:
June 23, 2020
Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
By Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Leah Johansen, M.D.
Medical review by
Leah Johansen, M.D.
Board-certified family medicine physician
Leah Johansen, M.D., practices alongside Robert Rountree, M.D., at Boulder Wellcare in Boulder, Colorado. Johansen earned her medical degree from Trinity School of Medicine and completed her residency training in family and community medicine at Case Western Reserve University.
June 23, 2020

Many people can agree that bananas are a versatile and nutritious snack—whether blended into a smoothie, mashed in banana bread, or sliced on top of toast with peanut butter. What's still up for debate, however, is whether or not bananas help with constipation or cause it. 

To clear up the facts, mbg spoke with two functional medicine doctors to determine if bananas help you poop.  

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Do bananas cause or help with constipation? 

The answer of whether bananas will make one poop or stop up digestion lies in their color, or ripeness:

Green bananas 

Green bananas are unripe, slightly bitter bananas. They're harder in texture and have a higher starch content—namely resistant starch and pectins—according to integrative medicine doctor Alejandra Carrasco, M.D.

"Both pectin and resistant starch function similarly to soluble fiber," Carrasco says, "and also have a prebiotic effect, feeding your good bacteria." 

So while green bananas are good for overall gut health, the resistant starches will be harder to digest. "Thus, they can cause or aggravate preexisting constipation," one study says. In fact, family physician Bindiya Gandhi, M.D., says they have been shown to help manage diarrhea.

Bottom line: Since they're high in prebiotics and resistant starch, green bananas are good for creating a healthy gut microbiome. However, they're hard to digest and may contribute to constipation. 

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Yellow bananas 

"Yellow bananas lose their starch content as they start to ripen," Carrasco says. The starch doesn't just disappear, though. It converts into simple sugars, increasing both the glycemic index and the sweetness of the banana. As the resistant starches break down, the banana becomes easier to digest. 

Yellow bananas are also relatively high in soluble and insoluble fibers (about 3 grams per medium-size banana), which helps promote regularity

Bottom line: Yellow bananas have a higher sugar content than green bananas, but because they're lower in resistant starches, they may aid in digestion and promote regularity. 

Brown bananas 

Brown bananas, like yellow, will continue to lose resistant starch over time. Because they're higher in both sugars and carbohydrates, Gandhi says they can have inflammatory effects on some people. 

For those who aren't affected, though, brown bananas can be beneficial for digestion because of their low resistant starches. They're also the highest in antioxidants, according to Carrasco. 

Bottom line: Brown bananas will help to sweeten smoothies or banana bread because most of their starch has converted to sugars. They are easy to digest, which may help ease constipation. Anyone with sensitivity to excess sugars or carbohydrates may have inflammatory responses. 

Summary

Bananas have nutritional values at each phase of ripeness, but the benefits differ along the way. Green bananas may actually lead to constipation because they're high in resistant starches. Yellow and brown bananas are lower in resistant starches and easier to digest.
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Abby Moore
Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager

Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.