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Bananas fuel sports and have anti-inflammatory properties

Elite and leisure time athletes are on an endless pursuit for the edge that will bring their performance to the next level. They aim to improve timing of practice sessions, and consider modifying eating regimens before and after sessions, try supplements and stay up on new technology in sports gear, all in an effort to compete at their best. As a result, it’s common for athletes to take an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen or aspirin in order to relieve or even ward off pain and muscle soreness after their sessions. The New York Times reported up to 70 percent of endurance athletes take some kind of anti-inflammatory before every workout as a precaution against muscle soreness. Also common among athletes is banana intake, though tasty and a good source of fuel, full benefit of this practice has not been understood until now.

Appalachian State University conducted a study that compared the effect bananas, water, and sport beverage had on performance in 20 (22-50 years old) avid cyclists. In this randomized, crossover, counter balanced approach, each cyclist provided bloodwork before and after four 75 km bouts, each time consuming either Cavendish (CAV) banana, mini yellow (MIY) banana, 6% sugar beverage and water. Predictably, they found that the portable, convenient, delicious bananas and the 6% sugar beverage outperformed water. But when compared to each other, cyclists who ate the bananas CAV and MIY had lower levels of inflammation during the two day recovery period after cycling. Scientists attribute this to banana metabolites in the blood which perform similarly to aspirin or ibuprofen during intense exercise.

In summary, this new research suggests that giving your body carbohydrates from both CAV and MIY bananas during intense training is an efficient way to improve recovery while decreasing post-exercise inflammation the natural way – a very good thing.

Published July 1, 2018

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