A banana a day can keep depression at bay, says research
11/28/2019 / By Skye Anderson / Comments
A banana a day can keep depression at bay, says research

Depression is a serious mental disorder that negatively affects how a person thinks and acts. It causes feelings of deep sadness and robs a person of any interest in things or activities he or she used to enjoy. Loss of appetite and energy, as well a difficulty thinking, are also symptoms of depression and can be physically disabling.

Treatments for depression usually involve psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medications. Antidepressants are specially designed to help alter a person’s brain chemistry. But while these meds are good at it, they unfortunately cause too many unpleasant side effects which can affect day-to-day life and activities.

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A growing number of scientific studies are now focusing on natural medicines which show great potential in treating depression. These plants and their medicinal components produce comparable results to modern meds but with considerably fewer side effects (sometimes none). And the best part is, some of these plants are popular superfoods.

For instance, a study published in Pharmacognosy Research found sufficient evidence of the banana plant (Musa sapientum) having antidepressant properties. Also found to have antioxidant properties, researchers from India decided to test its effects on animal models for depression.

Oxidative stress is an event linked to the development of major depressive disorder. It is caused by an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Compounds with strong antioxidant activity can counter oxidative stress.

In the study, mice treated with banana stem extracts showed improvements in their depression scores, suggesting that antioxidants in the banana plant can help reduce depression symptoms. This was proven by the results of a forced swim test, where mice treated with banana stem extracts showed improved active behavior while untreated mice remained passive.

Animals showing depression symptoms become immobile under stressful conditions. To simulate this, the researchers suspended the mice from the edge of a tall table. Untreated mice responded with immobility, which reflected despair and hopelessness similar to what people with depressive disorders experience. In contrast, mice treated with the banana stem extracts showed a significant reduction in the duration of their immobility.

Both behavioral tests used in the experiments are standard tests used to measure the potential of antidepressant drugs. The researchers interpreted their results (active behavior and reduced duration of immobility) as antidepressant-like activity based on interpretations made by previous antidepressant drug studies.

Based on these results, the researchers concluded that the banana plant contains active natural compounds that can be used for the treatment of depression.

Other reasons to eat bananas

The banana is one of the most recognizable fruits in the world. Originally from Southeast Asia, this tropical fruit can now be found in almost all tropical regions of the world. Today, several cultivars and species of this tropical fruit exist, making it the world’s best-selling fruit.

The banana is not only a delicious snack and energy booster that can be eaten on its own, it can also be used in a variety of ways in the kitchen. But what makes the banana even more attractive is the health benefits it offers. Here are five good reasons why you should add this fruit to your daily diet.

  1. It is rich in fiber. Eating high-fiber foods is important for your gut health. The soluble fiber in banana can also help you maintain a healthy weight by keeping you feeling full for longer. This reduces the amount of food you eat in a day.
  2. It supports heart health. Studies show that dietary fiber helps lower the risk of heart disease. Fiber helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, preventing the latter from building up in the arteries.
  3. It eases digestion. According to traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda), the sweet and sour taste of banana is good for digestion. While the sweet taste promotes a sense of heaviness, the sour taste stimulates digestive juices that help increase metabolism.
  4. It is loaded with nutrients. The banana is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals such as folate, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium. These nutrients help different parts of your body function properly.
  5. It is the best source of potassium. Potassium is a multi-purpose mineral that helps regulate heartbeat, blood pressure, muscle contractions, nerve signals and fluid balance. Potassium also keeps the brain alert and active.

Sources:

Psychiatry.org

NHS.uk

PhcogRes.com

Healthline.com

World-Crops.com

Food.NDTV.com

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