7 Powerful Healing Properties of Bananas


Go Bananas! 7 Amazing Nutrition Facts We Bet You Didn't Know

There is much more than meets the eye with the banana. A household favorite, a lost-leader at the grocery store, a metaphor for psychiatric problems, a mainstay of comic slap stick, the banana has woven itself deeply into human affairs, on both gut and mental levels. And this relationship is at least 10,000 years old, as far as conscious human cultivation of the species goes.

But, many do not realize that the banana is more than just an exceptionally starch-rich fruit, but has a complex biochemistry, with unique pharmacologically active properties which scientists have characterized.

Bananas actually contain the catecholamines dopamine[i] and norepinephrine,[ii] the very same adrenal hormones released in the human body when it undergoes the typical “fight-or-flight” response. It is believed that the banana plant uses the biosynthetic pathway for catecholamines when under the stress of attack to fight off infectious pathogens such as in crown rot disease.[iii] Some varieties excrete a form of serotonin in their sap, [iv] and there is even mention in the biomedical literature of the discovery of the NSAID drug naproxen (trade name Aleve) within the banana cultivar Musa acuminate.

Sound crazy? Well, that’s to be expected from a fruit we commonly associate with a state of unbridled madness.

But the banana has a secret second life. It has been observed slyly practicing medicine without a license, and indeed, seems readily equipped with the following nutritional “super powers”….

Green Banana Is Anti-Diarrhea

Before a banana is ripened, while it is in its green state, it contains starches which are resistant to digestion, but have been studied in combination with pectin to significantly reduce intestinal permeability and fluid loss in those suffering with bouts of diarrhea.[v] [vi]  Even when used without pectin, green banana has been found to hasten recovery of acute and prolonged childhood diarrhea when managed at home in rural Bangladesh.[vii]

Banana Is Anti-Ulcer Activity

Banana powder has been studied to prevent ulcer formation induced by a variety of drugs, including aspirin, indomethacin, phenylbutazone, prednisolone, cysteamine, and histamine. Researchers have found that banana powder treatment not only strengthens mucosal resistance against ulcerogens but also promotes healing by inducing cellular proliferation.[viii] One of the anti-ulcer compounds identified within unripe banana is the flavonoid known as leucocyanidin, and which is particularly effective against aspirin-induced erosion.[ix]

Banana Peel Suppresses Prostate Gland Growth

Banana peel has been found to suppress testosterone-induced prostate gland enlargement.[x]

Banana Stem Extract suppresses Oxalate Kidney Stones

A water extract of banana stem extract has been found to suppress the formation of oxalate-associated kidney stones in the animal model, leading researchers to conclude that it “may be a useful agent in the treatment of patients with hyperoxaluric urolithiasis.”[xi]

Banana Consumption Protects the Skin Against UV-Light Damage

UV-B light induced skin damage may be prevented or reduced through the consumption of bananas, with a protective effect against loss of skin elasticity.[xii]

Banana Has Anti-Diabetic Properties  

Banana flower extract has been studied in a type 1 diabetic model,[xiii] and has been found to have both antioxidant and blood sugar lowering effects. Banana root extracts have been discovered to contain blood sugar lowering properties comparable in efficacy to the drug glibenclamide (trade name Glyburide).[xiv] Also, unripe banana contain starches resistant to hydrolysis and therefore beneficial to diabetics.[xv]

Banana Contains a Variety of Anti-Infective Compounds

Banana contains compounds with demonstrable anti-MRSA activity,[xvi] anti-HIV replicative activity,[xvii] [xviii] and following metabolic transformation by fungi, anti-leishmanicidal activity.[xix] The leaves of the plant are used in many centers in India during the care of patients with toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN) and other extensive blistering disorders which can result in deadly sepsis in the absence of treatment.[xx]

Final Remarks

Whatever you do, don’t slip up and buy non-organic bananas. Like other foods that are grown in massive monocultures, without crop rotation, they are a pesticide-intensive crop. And this concern extends beyond simply what agrochemicals you are exposing your body to. In conventional farming, the planet gets carpet-bombed as well with these nasty toxicants, and since we all live on the same Earth, eventually those pesticides make it back up the food chain to you, whether you choose to eat organic or not.

MAGNESIUM: THE SAFE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE FOR CLINICAL DEPRESSION


The science supporting the efficacy of magnesium for major depression and other psychiatric disorders, testing for magnesium deficiency, and which forms and dosages are most effective.

Depression, a life-threatening psychiatric disorder, lies at the confluence of biochemical, hormonal, immunological, and neurodegenerative variables, which intersect to generate the pro-inflammatory state with which depression is associated. A major public health issue, depression is estimated to become one of the top three contributors to the global burden of diseases within a few years. Not only does depression consume a sizable portion of health care expenditures, but it is considered to be an independent risk factor for metabolic, cardiovascular, and neuropsychiatric disorders (1).

Current treatments are predicated upon a misguided serotonin theory of depression, and are accompanied by a laundry list of deleterious side effects ranging from sexual dysfunction to homicidality (2, 3, 4). Antidepressant medications likewise significantly increase the risk of all-cause mortality, or death from any cause, as well as heart disease, leading researchers to deem this class of pharmaceuticals as harmful to the general population (5). This, in combination with data indicating that antidepressants are clinically equivalent to placebo, render them an unfavorable option (6), especially considering that they offer little in the way of resolving the root cause.

Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

Rather than resorting to psychotropic drugs, it would be prudent to explore whether magnesium (Mg) supplementation improves depression, since this essential mineral is implicated in the pathophysiology of this disorder. Magnesium may be indeed branded as miraculous given its essentiality as a cofactor to over three hundred enzymatic reactions (7). It is second only to potassium in terms of the predominant intracellular cations, or ions residing in cells that harbor a positive charge (7).

 Magnesium is fundamentally involved in protein production, synthesis of nucleic acids, cell growth and division, and maintenance of the delicate electrolyte composition of our cells (7). It also imparts stability to the membranes of the energy factories of our cells called mitochondria (7). As articulated by researchers, “The physiological consequences of these biochemical activities include Mg’s central roles in the control of neuronal activity, cardiac excitability, neuromuscular transmission, muscular contraction, vasomotor tone, and blood pressure” (7).

The biological effects of magnesium are widespread. When deficient, magnesium is correlated with systemic inflammation. Not only does magnesium sufficiency promote cardiovascular health, relaxing the smooth muscles that comprise blood vessels and preventing high levels of vascular resistance that cause hypertension, but it also plays a role in musculoskeletal health and prevents sarcopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures (8). Magnesium is essential to regulation of sleep (9) and vitamin D metabolism (10) as well as neural plasticity and cognitive function.

However, food processing and industrial agriculture, including monoculture crop practices and the use of magnesium-devoid fertilizers, have led to soil erosion and depletion of magnesium content in our food (7). Magnesium is likewise removed from most drinking water supplies, rendering magnesium deficiency an inevitability (11). As such, our daily intake of magnesium has steadily declined from 500 milligrams (mg) per day to 175 mg per day (7). The nutrient-poor, energy-dense dietary patterns which have come to dominate the industrialized landscape are also insufficient in the fiber-rich fruits and vegetables which contain magnesium.

Animal Studies Propose a Role for Magnesium in Depression

Preliminary animal studies pointed to a role of magnesium in depression, as depletion of magnesium in the diet of mice lead to enhanced depression- and anxiety-related behavior such as increased immobility time in the forced swim test (12). In the forced swim test, a common assay for examining depression-like behavior in rodents, the animal is confined to a container filled with water and observed as it attempts to escape. The time in which the animal exhibits immobility is used as a barometer of despair, indicating that the animal has succumbed to a fate of drowning (1).

This model is confirmed by studies showing that administering substances with antidepressant properties such as Hypericum perforatum, also known as St. John’s Wort, can significantly decrease the time the animal spends without locomotor activity (12). In addition, the time the animal spends immobilized is influenced by many of the factors that are changed as a consequence of depression in humans, such as drug-withdrawal-induced anhedonia, impaired sleep, and altered food consumption (1).

Human Studies Confirm the Role of Magnesium in Depression

There is a paucity of research on the influence of specific micronutrients in depression and results are inconsistent, but several studies have revealed low serum magnesium in this mood disorder. It is well-documented, for example, that dietary magnesium deficiency in conjunction with stress can lead to neuropathologies and symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Researchers echo this sentiment, stating that, “Dietary deficiencies of magnesium, coupled with excess calcium and stress may cause many cases of other related symptoms including agitation, anxiety, irritability, confusion, asthenia, sleeplessness, headache, delirium, hallucinations and hyperexcitability” (11, p. 362).

The Hordaland Health study in Western Norway illustrated an inverse association between standardized energy-adjusted magnesium intake and depression scores, meaning that people who consumed less magnesium had higher rates of depression (13). When the serum and cerebrospinal fluid of acutely depressed patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder or bipolar patients in a depressive episode were compared to healthy controls, the calcium to magnesium ratio was found to be elevated in the former (14). Calcium and magnesium are minerals which antagonize one another and compete for absorption, since each of these minerals is a divalent cation (a positive ion with a valence of two). Suicidality, one of the primary manifestations of severe depression, is accompanied by low cerebrospinal fluid levels of magnesium despite normal calcium levels, lending credence to the role of magnesium in positive emotionality (15).

Magnesium Effective in Bipolar Disorder, Fibromyalgia, PMS, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A formulation of magnesium aspartate hydrochloride known as Magnesiocard has been shown to invoke mood-stabilizing effects in patients with severe rapid cycling bipolar disorder in one open study label (16). In half of the patients treated, this magnesium preparation had results equivalent to lithium, the standard of care for this patient population, such that the researchers suggested: “The possibility that Magnesiocard could replace or improve the efficacy of lithium as a preventive treatment of manic-depressive illness merits further clinical investigation” (16, p. 171). When used as an adjunctive therapy in severe, therapy-resistant mania, magnesium sulphate infusions significantly reduced the use of lithium, benzodiazepines and neuroleptics, so much so that the researchers concluded that it “may be a useful supplementary therapy for the clinical management of severe manic agitation” (17, p. 239).

In another randomized trial of elderly patients with type 2 diabetes and magnesium deficiency, elemental magnesium administered at 450 mg per day was found to have equivalent efficacy to 50 mg of the antidepressant drug Imipramine in treating depressive symptoms (18). Magnesium citrate taken at 300 mg per day has likewise been shown to decrease depression and other symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia as indicated by significant decreases in the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ) and Beck depression scores (19).

Data also indicate that supplementation with 360 mg of magnesium administered to women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) three times a day in the second half of the cycle is effective for so-called negative affect and other premenstrual-related mood symptoms (20). Lastly, intramuscular magnesium sulphate administered every week for six weeks has been proven to be effective in improving emotional state and other parameters in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) (21).

Mechanism of Action for Antidepressant Effects of Magnesium

According to researchers, “Biological systems discussed to be involved in the pathophysiology of affective disorders and the action of mood stabilizing drugs are affected by Mg, such as the activity of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenocortical (HPA) system, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF)-, GABA- and glutamatergic (via NMDA receptors) neurotransmission and several transduction pathways including protein kinase C” (12). Not only that, but magnesium elicits similar effects on nocturnal hormonal secretion and sleep brain waves to lithium salts, which are used as a treatment modality for bipolar disorder, supporting the role of magnesium as a mood stabilizer (22).

Magnesium operates as an agonist, or a stimulatory molecule, for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors (22). GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. By binding to the GABA receptor and replicating the effects of GABA, magnesium may alleviate anxiety. Magnesium may also elicit its antidepressant effects by acting as an inorganic antagonist of N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor function (Poleszak et al., 2007). Receptor antagonists are ligands, or substances, which bind to a receptor but inhibit its activity rather than activating it. NMDA receptors, which occur on the surface of nerve cells, are activated in part by glutamate, one of the excitatory amino acids in the brain.

Researchers state that, “Dysfunction of NMDA receptors seems to play a crucial role in the neurobiology of disorders such as Parkinson’s diseaseAlzheimer’s diseaseepilepsy, ischemic stroke, anxiety and depression,” such that, “ligands interacting with different sites of NMDA receptor complex are widely investigated as potential agents for the treatment of a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders” (22). In fact, drug inhibitors at the NMDA receptor complex, such as ketamine, demonstrate antidepressant effects (23, 24), but also induce such severe side effects that their clinical utility is limited (31). Magnesium, on the other hand, may have a similar mechanism of action by interfering with NMDA receptor activation without the adverse consequences of drug-induced NMDA receptor blockade (25).

Recent Study Proves Efficacy of Oral Magnesium for Depression

A recent open-label, randomized, cross-over trial was conducted in outpatient primary care clinics on 126 adults diagnosed with depression (26). During the intervention, 248 mg of elemental magnesium chloride per day, obtained from four 500 mg tablets, was administered for six weeks and compared to six weeks of no treatment, and subjects were evaluated for changes in depressive symptoms (26).

Magnesium administration results in clinically significant improvements in scores on both the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a validated measure of the severity of depression and response to treatment, as well as the Generalized Anxiety Disorders-7 (GAD-7), a sensitive self-reported screening tool for severity of anxiety disorders (26). Impressively, results appeared in as little as two weeks, representing the dramatic improvement that nutrient restoration can facilitate (26). Impressively, however, magnesium exerted anti-depressant effects regardless of baseline magnesium level. It also exhibited efficacy independent of the gender, age, or baseline severity of depression of subjects, as well as their use of antidepressant medications (26). The authors of the study conclude, “Magnesium is effective for mild-to-moderate depression in adults. It works quickly and is well tolerated without the need for close monitoring for toxicity” (26).

Populations At Risk for Magnesium Deficiency

Half of the population of the United States was found to consume less than the recommended amount of magnesium when estimated a decade ago (27). Not only is magnesium lost with certain medical conditions, but this mineral is excreted as a consequence of biological activities such as sweating, urinating, and defecating as well as excess production of stress hormones (7, 11). In addition, because low magnesium has been correlated with various disease states, increasing magnesium status may mitigate risk of these diseases.

For instance, researchers note that, “Low magnesium intakes and blood levels have been associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated C-reactive protein, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, osteoporosis, migraine headache, asthma, and colon cancer” (27, p. 153). In addition, magnesium deficiency at a cellular level “elicits calcium-activated inflammatory cascades independent of injury or pathogens” (27, p. 153). Low magnesium is associated with systemic inflammation, and inflammation is at the root of most chronic and degenerative diseases.

Testing for Magnesium and Food Sources of Magnesium

While the first inclination of some physicians may be to test magnesium levels for an objective parameter of deficiency, the widely used serum or plasma magnesium does not accurately reflect magnesium levels stored in other tissues (28, 29). In addition, both this hematological index of magnesium status, referred to as total magnesium, and the erythrocyte magnesium level, indicative of the levels of magnesium inside red blood cells, are not negatively affected until severe magnesium deprivation has occurred (7). Therefore, these testing methodologies are not accurate enough to catch preliminary or subclinical magnesium deficiency.

Good food sources of magnesium include pumpkin and squash seed kernels, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, potatoes, artichoke hearts, dates, bananas, coconut milk, prickly pear, black beans, lima beans, soybeans, and seafood sources including halibut, abalone, anchovy, caviar, conch, crab, oyster, scallop, snail, and pollock. However, it is important to note that magnesium can be leeched from vegetables when food is boiled, and that fiber in excess can decrease magnesium absorption by increasing gastrointestinal motility (7).

Most Bioavailable Forms of Magnesium

As elucidated by the researchers, “Over-the-counter magnesium can be offered as an alternative therapy to those patients hesitant to begin antidepressant treatment and is easily accessible without a prescription” (26). Because the soil is no longer enriched in magnesium, supplementation may be warranted. Organic salts of magnesium, including the acetate, ascorbate, aspartate, bicitrate, gluconate, and lactate forms are more soluble and biologically active over the magnesium mineral salts such as magnesium oxide, magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium sulfate (7).

However, case studies have shown remarkably rapid recovery from major depression, in less than seven days, when magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurinate are administered at dosages of 125 to 300 mg with each meal and at bedtime (11). Magnesium threonate may also be explored as a therapeutic option, as it may have better penetrance of the blood brain barrier and restore neurological levels of magnesium. This form, which is delivered directly to the brain, may improve cerebral signaling pathways and synaptic connections between nerve cells as well as support learning and memory, although the studies have been conducted in animal models (30).

Researchers report that magnesium is usually effective for treating depression in general use, and that comorbid conditions occurring in these case studies, including “traumatic brain injury, headache, suicidal ideation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, postpartum depression, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco abuse, hypersensitivity to calcium, short-term memory loss and IQ loss were also benefited” by magnesium supplementation (11, p. 362). Barring abnormal kidney function, the Institute of Medicine sets the upper tolerable limit for intake at 350 mg of elemental magnesium per day, but there are few adverse side effects documented unless consumed in inordinate doses (26).

Before changing your medication or nutraceutical regimen, always consult a functional or integrative medical doctor for contraindications. However, given the benign nature of magnesium supplementation and the ubiquity of magnesium insufficiency, depressedpatients should be offered this as a first line strategy alongside a holistic root-cause resolution approach to treating depression

New study confirms that bananas are being driven to extinction .


A massive worldwide decline is inevitable.

When it comes to the world’s favourite fruit, history is repeating itself, with the most popular banana at serious risk from the Panama disease – a fungicide-resistant pathogen that’s crossed continents and breached quarantine efforts to spread across South Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia.

According to a new study by researchers in the Netherlands, the across-ocean leap to South America is now inevitable, and that’s a huge problem. This is where 82 percent of the world’s Cavandish bananas – by far the world’s most popular banana variety – are grown, with Ecuador alone supplying over a third of the billion-dollar global export market.

The threat is Panama disease, the exact same soil-borne fungus that drove the original favourite banana, the Gros Michel, to near-extinction in the 1960s. Its effects were first discovered way back in 1876, when a wilting disease was reported in Australian banana crops. By 1890, the same disease appeared in Gros Michel crops in Costa Rica and Panama, and 20 years later, it was finally attributed to the fungus Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense (Foc).

This fungus is incredibly efficient at infecting banana crops, and when it does, it’s devastating. Transmitted through both soil and water, F. oxysporum can lay dormant in the soil for up to 30 years, and it’s virtually impossible for growers to know their crops have it without rigorous testing (which doesn’t exist). Once it latches onto a suitable host, it finds its way to the root system and travels up to the xylem vessels – a plant’s main water transporters.

From here, the fungus messes with the plant’s vascular system, causing it to wilt rapidly and turn a horrible yellow-brown colour due to a lack of water. The plant will then die very quickly from dehydration.

Before farmers even knew what hit them, Panama disease had spread through most of the world’s Gros Michel banana crops, wiping them out everywhere but in certain parts of Thailand, where small plantations are keeping the variety alive.

“Fortunately, there was a remedy: Cavendish bananas – maintained as interesting specimens in botanical gardens in the United Kingdom and in the United Fruit Company collection in Honduras – were identified as resistant substitutes for Gros Michel,” researchers from Wageningen University and Research Centre report in PLOS Pathogens. “A new clone was ‘born’ that, along with the new tissue culture techniques, helped save and globalise banana production.”

But now Panama disease is back, in the form of a new strain called VCG01213, or Tropical Race 4 (TR4). The team, led by plant researcher Nadia Ordonez, has confirmed that TR4 is a single clone of the original Panama disease, and it alone is what’s causing the current worldwide die-off of Cavendishes.

“We know that the origin of [Tropical Race 4] is in Indonesia and that it spread from there, most likely first into Taiwan and then into China and the rest of Southeast Asia,” one of the team, Gert Kema, told Gywnn Guilford at Quartz. He says they’ve identified the deadly fungus in Pakistan, Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, and Mozambique, and Australia’s northeast Queensland.

To any banana farmers out there, this isn’t exactly news, but the study has finally confirmed suspicions that have been floating around since the 1980s – the Cavendish might have been immune to the Panama disease strain that killed off the Gros Michel, but it’s super susceptible to TR4. And the fact that Cavendish bananas are seedless clones of each other means there’s zero genetic diversity in the entire global population to allow for a resistant population to develop.

So what now? As Guilford reports for Quartz, our bananas aren’t going to disappear overnight, but they will eventually decline in a really big way if things don’t change fast. “It takes time for Tropical Race 4 to spread. But once it takes root, the decline is inevitable,” she says. “Taiwan, for instance, now exports around 2 percent of what it did in the late 1960s, when Tropical Race 4 was first discovered there.”

The fix isn’t an easy one, with Ordonez and her team recommending “drastic strategy changes”. The most important thing the international community can do is eliminate infected crops, and for this to be realistic, scientists need to invent a new diagnostic test that can very quickly detect the disease in plantations and at quarantine borders. We also need to start seriously considering the development of a Cavenish replacement.

“Developing new banana cultivars, however, requires major investments in research and development and the recognition of the banana as a global staple and cash crop (rather than an orphan crop) that supports the livelihoods of millions of small-holder farmers,” the researchers conclude.

Let’s just hope we end up doing something before it’s too late.

The terrifying truth about bananas .


http://www.sciencealert.com/watch-the-terrifying-truth-about-bananas

16 Surprising Facts About Bananas


16  Surprising Facts About Bananas

Bananas are one of America’s favorite fruits, with some 96 percent of consumers reporting buying bananas last year. In fact, on average, Americans eat more than 28 pounds of bananas per person, per year! That’s good news because bananas are nutrient-rich and offer other a wide variety of health benefits. For example, did you know that bananas might actually help you feel happy, or that the smell of bananas could act as an appetite suppressant? Read on to find out who invented the banana split, why bananas are 37 percent cheaper than they were in 1980, and whether it is really true that bananas (as we know them) may become extinct in our lifetimes.

http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1003180-16-surprising-bananas/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=0506_m