People’s Pharmacy: Do bananas help or harm stomach?
Q. Can you tell me how much acid is in bananas? My doctor told me not to eat them because they could cause acid-reflux problems.
I love half a banana in my cereal. I’ve been eating this for years with no trouble. Does it make sense for me to stop eating my daily half-banana? I have no symptoms of heartburn.
A. Ripe bananas have a pH of about 5, making them a mildly acidic food. That does not mean that bananas cause heartburn or reflux, however.
Decades ago, Indian researchers tested banana powder and found it helpful for relieving symptoms of indigestion (The Lancet, March 10, 1990). More recently, animal research demonstrates that banana extract helps heal drug-induced ulcers (BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine online, Nov. 5, 2013). The banana extract actually worked better than the acid-suppressing drug omeprazole.
We can’t imagine a reason for you to give up the half-banana on your cereal.
Q. I got stung on the leg by a yellow jacket nine weeks ago. My plantar fasciitis went away; now it’s back. Is that just a coincidence?
A. It probably is not a coincidence. While yellow jackets are cantankerous and difficult to manage, honeybees are more domesticated. For many years, people have been using honeybee stings therapeutically (apitherapy) for inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.
We don’t believe you should go around looking for yellow jackets, but you might want to learn more about bee-sting therapy for your painful foot problem. We have discussed this topic in depth with apitherapy experts on our one-hour radio show No. 661. You can listen for free at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com, or purchase a CD by calling 800-732-2334.
Q. You wrote in your column that vitamin D might help prevent a child’s ear infections. Parents might give children vitamin D-fortified milk thinking this would help, but it might make things worse.
Our grandson had recurrent ear infections. His parents removed these four foods from his diet: peanuts, dairy, wheat and corn. That took care of the problem.
A. Some research suggests that allergies may contribute to middle-ear infections (otitis media). Common allergens include cow’s milk and other dairy products, and such foods could increase the risk of infections in susceptible children (Otolaryngologic Clinics of North America, February 1992).
Q. I am an 88-year-old lady who takes no medication except Vasotec for high blood pressure. My annual medical examination this week shows that my cholesterol is perfect, and there are no other signs of any problem anywhere, so my doctor says. He says I am 88 going on 16.
I was especially interested in a recent comment in your column about apple-cider vinegar. My diet for many years has been lots of vegetables and fruits, nothing fried, and red meat only a couple of times a month. I take a daily vinegar cocktail that consists of a 6-ounce glass of tomato or V8 juice with 2 teaspoons of natural apple-cider vinegar. Then I eat an apple between breakfast and lunch.
I do not use ordinary vinegar. I believe that the raw natural vinegar from the health-food store is better.
I used to take milk of magnesia a few times a week for constipation. Since starting my V8/vinegar cocktails nine months ago, I have not had to take MOM a single time.
A. Thanks for sharing your story. You are a role model for healthy eating.
In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Write to them in care of this newspaper or email them via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.