Bananas to the Rescue

March 29, 2018

A recently published study suggests that carbohydrates in bananas work as well as sports drinks in fueling athletes. As reported by Appalachian Today, the study also found that bananas inhibit COX-2 mRNA expression.

“Consuming bananas with water during exercise has several advantages for athletes and fitness enthusiasts,” David Nieman, DrPH, Director of the Appalachian State University Human Performance Laboratory on the North Carolina Research Campus and Professor of Health and Exercise Science in the Beaver College of Health Sciences and author of the study, said. “Above those linked to regular sports drinks, including a stronger anti-inflammatory effect, better nutrition and improved metabolic recovery. Within an exercise context, banana metabolites that increase in the blood following ingestion have a similar effect to aspirin or ibuprofen that inhibits COX-2 activity. This makes bananas close to the perfect athletic food.”

In the study, 20 male and female cyclists completed four 75 kilometer time trials after fasting overnight. The participants ingested Cavendish and mini yellow bananas, as well as a six percent sugar beverage and water. There was a two-week period between the cycling trials.

The results showed that ingesting carbohydrates, regardless of source, helped endurance performance and contributing to lower markers of post-exercise inflammation. The results also showed that banana-derived metabolites coincided with a reduction in COX-2 mRNA expression. Typically, this reduction is related to less inflammation, swelling, and perceived pain.  

“Ibuprofen is the number one drug taken by athletes to combat inflammation,” Nieman said. “Research shows that it can cause intestinal cell damage and, in some studies, was found to increase inflammation in athletes. Now, athletes know there is a natural alternative—bananas and water.”

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