Sorry, But Bananas Won't Calm Your Caffeine Jitters | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Sorry, But Bananas Won't Calm Your Caffeine Jitters

It happens to the best of us. You drink one too many cups of coffee and, for the next few hours, you end up acting like a hyper preschooler who just can't sit still.

Which can be pretty inconvenient if it's, say, noon and you're at the office, or if it's midnight and you can't fall asleep.

Wouldn't it be nice if there were something quick and easy that you could take to combat the effects of over-caffeination? Something like ... a banana?

Last week, food blog Serious Eats floated the idea that eating a banana might indeed be an effective way to remedy over-caffeination. This, based on advice solicited from baristas like Simon Ouderkirk of SPoT Coffee.

"Folks, science has proven that bananas will stop the jitters and get your eyesight right after too many espressos," he told Serious Eats.

As far as we can tell, the "scientific" argument for why bananas might tame an unwanted caffeine jolt rests on the fact that caffeine is a diuretic. If you consume too much of it, you risk depleting your levels of important electrolytes like potassium. Eating foods rich in potassium, like bananas, can help to counter this effect.

It's a plausible theory, but is it correct?

Unfortunately not, says Dr. Randy Eichner, professor emeritus of medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

According to Eichner, drinking a few too many cups of coffee will not have any noticeable effect on potassium levels.

"The only cases of low potassium from caffeine I know of were flukes," he writes in an email to The Salt.

He points to the case of a 44-year-old Australian ostrich farmer who experienced severe muscle weakness after drinking 10 liters of Coca-Cola during a wild and crazy night of kangaroo hunting. Turns out, he'd been following that kind of cola-heavy diet on a daily basis for the previous three years.

But even if you did manage to consume enough caffeine to significantly deplete potassium levels, Eichner adds that eating just one banana wouldn't help you out much.

For example, in order to restore the potassium lost from a severe bought of diarrhea, he says you'd have to eat the equivalent of a 5-foot-long banana.

Sorry, folks, but it looks like bananas aren't a caffeination cure-all after all.

And until the day when mega bananas do become available for purchase, Eichner suggests a more practical, if less whimsical, way to treat over-caffeination: "Just let it wear off."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'American Crime' And 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt' Highlight The TV Revolution

Tina Fey co-created the quirky comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for Netflix; John Ridley made the emotionally raw drama American Crime for ABC. TV critic David Bianculli says they're both good.
NPR

Dump The Lumps: The World Health Organization Says Eat Less Sugar

WHO says there's strong evidence that excessive sugar is bad for us. So it's recommending that we cut back significantly.
NPR

House Approves Amtrak Funding, Rewrites Rules To Allow Furry Riders

The bill freezes funding at current levels for four years, and lets some pets ride the rails with their owners. It also separates the high-ridership Northeast Corridor from the rest of the system.
WAMU 88.5

Transportation App Bridj Has Bus-Sized Ambitions For D.C.

It works similar to other ride-sharing apps, in that you establish a location and destination, and order a ride. But you'll be shown where to catch a Bridj bus, instead of getting a vehicle at your door.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.