There's a way to avoid constipation -- add more dietary fiber to your diet. Bananas do have some fiber, and fiber contributes to regular bowel movements. However, if you're looking for a quicker fix, there are other fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods that are much higher in fiber. Eating a varied, fiber-rich diet contributes to gastrointestinal health and ensures that you get a variety of essential nutrients.
Constipation and Diet
The frequency of bowel movements varies from one person to the next -- you may have three a day or only once or twice a week; both frequencies are considered normal. Constipation becomes a problem when bowel movements occur less frequently or stools are hard, dry and difficult to pass. One of the more common causes of sluggish bowels is a diet low in fiber. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, the foods that cause frequent, soft, formed bowel movements are wheat bran, fruits and vegetables.
Bananas vs. Other Fruits
A 1/2-cup serving of raw bananas has around 70 calories and gives you 9 g of dietary fiber, or 11 percent of your daily value, or DV, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. According to the Cleveland Clinic, dietary fiber is found in the skin and seeds of fruit. Other choices include prunes, raspberries and blackberries. A cup of uncooked prunes with seeds removed gives you 12.4 g of fiber. One cup of blackberries and raspberries gives around 8 g of fiber per cup.
Higher Fiber Foods
Foods even higher in fiber than fruits include beans and legumes, including navy beans, split peas, lentil and kidney beans. One cup of navy beans, cooked from dried, gives you more than 19 g of fiber; the same serving of cooked split peas gives you more than 16 g. Whole-grain breads and whole-grain breakfast cereals are also rich in fiber. The Harvard School of Public Health indicates that women should get more than 20 g of fiber a day. Men should try to get more than 30 g.
Columbia University says that bananas can actually cause constipation in toddlers. Better choices for young infants include prunes, pears and plums. MayoClinic.com says there may be other factors that contribute to irregularity. You may not be getting enough water or other fluids. Hard bowel movements may also be caused by eating too many dairy products. A sedentary lifestyle also contributes to constipation, particularly as you get older. Laxative abuse, illness, pregnancy, travel and certain diseases and medications can also cause irregularity. Most of the time, constipation is temporary, posing no threat to your health. However, if you've made dietary changes and taken other preventive measures and it persists for two weeks or longer, talk to your physician.
- Cleveland Clinic: Constipation
- Linus Pauling Institute; Fiber; J. Higdon, Ph.D.; December 2005
- USDA National Nutrition Database: Raw Bananas; Prunes; Raspberries; Blackberries; Navy Beans
- Harvard School of Public Health: Fiber: What Should You Eat?
- MayoClinic.com: Constipation
- Columbia University: Constipation Relief for Toddlers