Saturday, 28 August 2010

Bananas - are you getting enough?

Various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains; ...Image via Wikipedia
Have you ever thought about the goodness in the food you eat?  and if you are getting enough of your daily nutritional intake? or do you just eat what you like?
Well I was thinking about it the other day when I was craving a banana... 
yes banana... not a "gin and tonic" or "french patisserie"  but an actual banana....
sometimes I think we need to be aware of the reasons for the craving...
is it just a craving for the taste or is our body really trying to tell us something...???
have you ever thought about it?
and do you feel much better after you have eaten the food or drink you are craving?
So back to my craving for a ripe banana....
mind you I didn't want just a banana.... no the flavour I was craving was....
a banana with cheddar cheese....
Borough Market Cheddar cheeseImage via Wikipedia
you may screw up your face or gag.... but try it ... the flavours accompany each other.... perfectly...
so the facts are, bananas, as we all know are high in potassium....
which is a vital mineral for muscle and nerve function and potassium also helps to regulate blood pressure.  Maybe my body was giving out signals for bananas because I needed a dose of potassium to help regulate an imbalance in my body?  Quite possible, I hadn't eaten a banana for at least 10 days... and normally it is in my daily intake of fruit.  And then there is the cheese factor, which is interesting, especially since I prefer my white cheeses, cottage, feta and goats, and there I was craving a bit of cheddar with my banana.  Very interesting.... Cheese is a good source of protein and a rich source of calcium.... and it is well known calcium plays an important role in building stronger, denser bones early in life and keeping bones strong and healthy later in life.


If I take it a bit further .... we have some interesting facts:


Potassium is a mineral that is required in significant amounts for human health. 
Potassium - balances sodium in the body to regulate hydration. 


Functions of Potassium:
  • Regulation of pressure between the inside and outside of cells. With inadequate potassium, cellular wastes are not efficiently transported into the extracellular spaces and carried away. Toxic material is left to accumulate in the cell can cause premature cell death.
  • Conversion of blood sugar into glycogen for storage in the liver and muscles. Inadequate glycogen storage leads to physical and mental fatigue.
  • Maintaining proper pH balance of blood.
  • Maintaining proper body water balance
  • Stimulating insulin production
  • Maintaining digestive enzyme function and efficiency
  • Maintaining optimal nerve and muscle function
  • Relaxing muscle contraction in balance to calcium, which induces contraction.
Deficiency can lead to:
  • Lactic acid (and other waste metabolites) buildup in body, which leads to
    • Muscular weakness
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Paralysis
  • Problems in nerve conduction, which leads to
    • Mental confusion
    • Heart disturbances
    • Problems with muscle contraction
Calcium - is the most abundant mineral in the human body. 
About 99% is in the bones and teeth - where it plays a structural role. 
Remainder 1% is present in body tissues and fluids - where it is essential for cell metabolism, muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission. 

Low levels of calcium in the blood and tissues can cause hypocalcemia - which involves sensations of tingling; numbness; and muscle twitches. 
In severe cases muscle spasms may occur, called tetany. 
More likely to be due to a hormonal imbalance in the regulation of calcium rather than a dietary deficiency.
Excess calcium in the blood can cause nausea, vomiting and calcium deposition in the heart and kidneys
This usually results from excessive doses of vitamin D and can be fatal in infants.

Complications:
Vitamin D is needed for absorption of dietary calcium - therefore calcium deficiency may be linked to rickets in children. 
In adults, calcium deficiency may lead to osteomalacia (softening of the bones). 
This may be related to repeated pregnancy with lengthy breast feeding.

Osteoporosis can be due to calcium deficiency - which 
involves loss of calcium from the bones and reduced bone density. Bones become brittle and liable to fracture. 
Bone loss occurs with age in all individuals - usually occurs after 35-40 years and involves the shrinking of the skeleton. 
Bone loss is greatest in women following the menopause - due to reduced levels of the hormone, estrogen. 
Post-menopausal women are particularly at risk from osteoporosis.

So my craving for a banana (potassium) with cheese (calcium) could easily be interpreted as a vital signal from my body...  a call for help to regulate chemical imbalances..... 
what do you know?  
next time I will be closely monitoring my cravings... 


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