Banana is a tropical fruit that belongs to the berry family. Bananas are popular snack food; a certain variety of the fruit called plantains are even used in cooking. Although bananas vary in size, color, and firmness, the fruit has yellow, red, or green rind and soft, seemingly sweet flesh.
Bananas are some of the most nutrient-dense fruits in the world. It’s low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and high in manganese, potassium, vitamin C, B6, as well as fiber. The fruit is a health food known to soothe heartburns, lower blood pressure, and even ease muscle tension. It’s a popular treat among dieters too.
Although bananas help ease muscle cramps, there are cases wherein the fruit causes leg cramps in some people. There are many reasons that could trigger leg cramps after eating a banana, one of the most common is that you might have abnormal potassium level in the body. We recommend talking to your doctor to get a proper diagnosis. Below is a list of possible causes of leg cramps after eating bananas:
Abnormal Potassium Levels
Banana is a rich of source of potassium, a type of mineral that helps maintain proper nerve function. Potassium also helps stimulate proper electrical impulses and smooth muscle contractions in the body. If the body is low in potassium, it will be prone to muscle contractions or spams, particularly in the leg area. Chronic alcoholics, athletes who sweat profusely, and dieters who consume less than 800 calories a day are prone to potassium deficiency. Note that bananas do not trigger leg cramps. That said, suffering from leg cramps after eating a banana could point to potassium deficiency.
Of course, too much of a good thing can be bad for you as well. As mentioned above, if you have an abnormally high potassium level in the body, it could also lead to muscle cramps. Athletes, in particular, are prone to muscle cramps after eating a banana because the muscles normally contract as the minerals stored in the body are replenished.
If you are experiencing leg cramps and you’re not potassium deficient nor do you possess high potassium levels in the body, you could be sensitive to the stuff. Apart from bananas, other foods such as kiwis, tomatoes, and spinach are high in potassium. If you’re only experiencing leg cramps after eating bananas but not with other potassium-rich foods, then your body is intolerant of bananas.
Food intolerance is a digestive response to certain foods. The usual symptoms of food intolerance include nausea, diarrhea, and stomachache. In some cases, it could result in muscle cramps and joint weakness. If you suspect that you might be intolerant to bananas—especially when you’re experiencing adverse symptoms after eating the fruit—have yourself checked and ask your doctor what other foods you have to avoid in order to prevent flare-ups.
Most people cannot tell the difference between food allergy and food intolerance. As mentioned above, food intolerance is a digestive response to certain foods. On the other hand, food allergy is an immune system response to irritants.
When the body mistakes harmless elements in the body as “harmful,” the brain triggers the release of antibodies to fight it. This causes symptoms ranging from rashes, to itchiness, hives, nausea, diarrhea, and in rare cases, leg cramps.
Banana allergy is quite common; it comes in two forms: a reaction similar to pollen allergy after eating bananas (mouth and throat itchiness and inflammation) and a reaction similar to latex allergy (abdominal pain, hives, and vomiting). If you are suffering from any of these conditions, it’s best to avoid eating bananas at all cost.
There are cases when eating bananas will result to nighttime leg cramps if you’re dehydrated. Dehydration and physical activities could deplete the body’s electrolyte and potassium levels. If you’re dehydrated and ate a banana instead of drinking water, there’s a good chance that you will experience leg cramps. To prevent this, simply add more fluids to your diet and do stretch exercises at night, if you’re prone to nighttime leg cramps.
Although it’s difficult to determine whether or not eating bananas could lead to leg cramps, you can do a simple food elimination test just to be sure. To do this, just stop eating all sorts of food that you think might be triggering leg cramps.
If you still suffer from leg cramps even after eliminating bananas from your diet, then it’s not the fruit that’s causing the leg cramps. If muscle pain increases, talk to your doctor right away for proper diagnosis.