Super Food of the Week: Bananas

Prepackaged in their own yellow jackets with a sweet yet firm and creamy flesh bananas are available for harvest throughout the year. The banana plant can grow as tall as 26 feet or as short as 10 feet and they belong to the same family as the Lilly and the Orchid. Bananas are a favorite food for everyone from infants to elders. Sports enthusiasts appreciate the potassium-power provided by this high energy fruit yet non sports enthusiasts can also appreciate the benefits that come from the consumption of bananas. Bananas are a very good source of vitamins B6 and C, as well as a good source of potassium, dietary fiber and manganese, which are beneficial to hair and body.

Bananas have a long-standing reputation for their antacid effects that protect against stomach ulcers and ulcer damage. This works in two ways. In one way, substances in bananas help activate the cells that compose the stomach lining, producing a thicker protective mucus barrier against stomach acids. Second, other compounds in bananas called protease inhibitors help to eliminate bacteria in the stomach that have been identified as a primary cause of stomach ulcers. Keeping in theme with the digestive system, bananas are a smart move if you suffer from elimination problems thanks to a soluble fiber that can help normalize movement though the digestive track and ease constipation.

Want stronger bones? Have a banana! Frequent consumption of banana can help improve your body’s ability to absorb calcium. Bananas are a very rich source of a compound called prebiotic. This beneficial bacteria produce vitamins and digestive enzymes that improve your body’s ability to absorb nutrients, plus protects against unwanted and problematic microorganisms.

Bananas also help to promote kidney health and offer protection against kidney cancer. Bananas and many root vegetables contain high amounts of antioxidant phenolic compounds. This particular mixture of compounds have been found to be particularly helpful in protecting kidney function. Research published in the International Journal of Cancer showed that eating more than 75 servings of fruits and vegetables per month (which translates to about 2.5 servings per day) could cut risk of kidney cancer in women by 40%. The women that participated in this research who ate bananas cut their risk of developing kidney cancer in half.

Bananas not only nourishes your body and hair from the inside but it can also nourish your hair and skin from the outside as well. Some ladies have used pureed bananas as a facial masks, applying the antioxidant benefits directly to skin. Some curlies have had success with homemade hair masks/ conditioners that feature bananas. Some of the more reported effects are softer, moisturized and more manageable hair. Some have mixed pureed bananas (raw bananas or baby food to make rinsing easier) with honey, coconut milk, or yogurt. You can find plenty of Y-tube videos with different recipes for these conditioners. Just make sure you have a very good blender!

Fit Tip of the Week:

Adding the Pounds

Yes, you actually did read that correctly. It may sound hard to believe, but there are some people who are looking to actually gain weight. They want to, and in some cases, may need to gain weight. Most people spend much of their lives figuring out way to shed extra pounds and the concept of being underweight may be a bit difficult to comprehend. However, should you happen to find yourself in the small population that has tried everything they can to actually gain weight, you know that it can be just as difficult for underweight people to add pounds as it is for overweight individuals to take the pounds off.

So naturally, the next question is: “Who needs to GAIN weight?” The answer would be those individuals who are described as being underweight. The term underweight is actually used to describe two kinds of people: those whose weight is considered below normal, but are still healthy and those whose low weights are cause for significant healthy concerns. The individuals in the former category may range from young football players to older adults living ordinary lives. These people usually have a genetic predisposition to thinness and it is important to keep this mind when using strategies for weight gain. They won’t be able to change their physiology, but they may be able to actually enhance it. The latter group of individuals is at a higher risk for respiratory diseases, tuberculosis, digestive disorders, and some cancers. Women who are underweight are more likely to be come infertile or give birth to unhealthy babies. A consultation with a physician is highly recommended for underweight individuals before embarking on a program of weight gain.

A useful rule of thumb to safely gain 1 pound of body weight per week is to consume an extra 500 calories per day above the amount that would normally be consumed. This number will vary from person to person. It is best to stick with high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet that you modify to include larger quantities. Eating at fast food joints everyday sounds like an easy solution to gain weight, but it’s not a healthy solution. Also, protein powders and amino acid supplements are not necessary to gain weight (contrary to popular belief) if you eat the recommended amount of dietary protein, which is roughly about 15 to 20% of daily calories. This is much easier on your wallet. To be sure that you are sensibly increasing your caloric intake, you should meet with a registered dietitian who can guide you in planning your meals and safely gaining healthy weight.

Now, to make sure the extra calories you are eating don’t simply turn into pounds of fat, it is critical that you make strength training your primary form of exercise. Strength training will ensure that the extra weight you are gaining is the result of muscle growth and toning and avoid gaining only fat. Which is probably what you’re not looking for.

Until next week…