As a follow on from the recent series on the Weekly Grocery Shopping List of foods that contain the nutrients the body needs I am going to repeat my series from 2017 on the health benefits of some of our most common foods.
Food therapy is a broad term for the benefits to the body of a healthy, varied and nutritional diet of fresh foods.
Most of us walk through the fresh produce departments of our supermarkets without really paying much attention to the individual fruits and vegetables. This is a great pity because the vast majority of these foods have been cultivated for thousands of years, not only for their nutritional value but also for their medicinal properties. If you eat a healthy diet you are effectively practicing preventative medicine. A robust immune system, not only attacks external opportunistic pathogens, but also works to prevent rogue cells in the body from developing into serious disease.
NOTE – If you are on any prescribed medication do not take yourself off it without consultation with your doctor. If you follow a healthy eating programme and lose weight and are exercising you may not need the same dose and with your doctor’s agreement you may be able to reduce or come off the medication all together.
The banana is not only a superfood packed with nutrients but it is also a definite winner in the therapeutic arena. The fruit has been around for at least a couple of thousand years and many cultures have used the banana in their fight against illness.
I cannot tell you have many times as a therapist I have been told by a new client that they were told to give up bananas because they were fattening. On inspection of their food diaries however, it was amazing how many little bars of chocolate, low fat chocolate puddings and other treats had been allowed so that there was no sense of deprivation at the end of the day.
Stuff and nonsense. The banana is not only nutritionally packed it is also useful for minor ailments. It is beautifully packed and can travel anywhere with you including in a child’s lunchbox instead of little chocolate treats.
The banana has many talents including keeping your bowels healthy, reducing your risk of heart disease and strokes, protecting you from ulcers, improving blood pressure, boosting your energy and your mood and help you reduce water retention.
More specifically the banana is a medicine cabinet in its own right. If we look at the diverse diseases and conditions that it is connected to you will realise how important it is in your diet.
Anaemia is the result of a lack of haemoglobin the oxygen-carrying agent in red blood cells. Iron is essential in the manufacture of this haemoglobin in the bone marrow and bananas are high in this mineral.
High blood pressure and stress related conditions effect many people and not just as they age. More and more children and young adults are showing signs of following a poor diet, high in junk food and low in natural fresh produce. Junk food is high in salt, which in the form of sodium and in excess causes elevated blood pressure.
The potassium in bananas helps lower blood pressure by dilating blood vessels, enhancing he excretion of water and sodium from the body and suppressing the hormones that cause elevations in blood pressure.
Potassium helps normalise the heartbeat, sends oxygen to the brain and regulates water balance. When we are stressed our metabolic rate increases, reducing our potassium levels and by eating a banana we can help re-balance all these symptoms in one snack.
Depression and nervous conditions can be helped by eating bananas as they contain tryptophan, a protein that converts into serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that makes you relax and improves your mood. The B vitamins in the fruit are also essential for a healthy central nervous system.
Heartburn is eased by eating a banana due to its antacid effect, and it has the added benefit of not causing stomach problems when used long term.
Ulcers in the stomach are very delicate and the banana is one of the few foods that can be eaten raw without causing any further distress or inflammation to the ulcer site. It also reduces over acidity and the irritation this causes to the lining of the stomach.
PMS is dreadful, not just for the woman concerned, but usually for the family around her. Eating a banana with its B6 not only helps alleviate the stress symptoms but also works to regulate the hormones causing the problem.
Weight loss – Contrary to popular belief that the banana is fattening, it actually provides one of the most complete meals in history for only 120/150 calories for a large banana.. As weight can be related to stressful environments, a banana is also very good as a work place snack to help you get through the day; without resorting to more unhealthy comfort foods.
Morning sickness and hangovers whilst hopefully not connected, tend to afflict us in the morning when blood sugar levels are likely to be low. Eating a banana is said to help stabilise this, and if you blend your banana with some milk and honey, you will also soothe and hydrate your body whilst calming the stomach.
Smoking – Cigarettes are tough to give up. I know having gone through the withdrawal symptoms myself 25 years ago. If you can manage without a nicotine patch, you might think about including a banana in your diet every day or when you have a craving. Not only will all the nutrients give you an energy boost but also the potassium and magnesium in the banana will help with your withdrawal symptoms including stress.
Warts and mosquito bites can be unsightly and the bites very itchy and whilst there are some products available in the pharmacies there are some old fashioned remedies that are worth mentioning. It is said that if you wrap the inside of the banana skin around a wart that it will disappear and it is reported that rubbing the inside of the skin over mosquito bites will take down the swelling and irritation. I cannot personally attest to that one but it won’t hurt to try.
As you can see the banana is a very useful ally in efforts to prevent illness and to help our bodies fight conditions when they occur. It is not the complete answer, as it needs to be included in a diet that contains all the essential elements. It is also not intended to take the place of necessary medication for serious illnesses. It is part of the wonderful pharmacy that we have available at our fingertips and should be enjoyed in as many ways as possible.
And if you are stuck for ideas then you will find some amazing recipes for bananas in this post as part of the cook from scratch series with Carol Taylor: Cook from Scratch with Carol Taylor – The Banana
©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2020
I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-two years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines and posts here on Smorgasbord.
If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here: https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/my-books-and-reviews-2019-2020/
Thank you for dropping in today and your feedback and questions are very welcome.. thanks Sally.