An intelligent reader who has done much personal experimenting with foods and diets writes me as follows:
“It is surprising that of all the foods I’ve eaten, I find the banana the best and the least troublesome. Of course I’m talking about the ungassed banana. The gassed ones do give me some trouble, even such easily digested foods as the orange, apple, grape, etc., if overeaten, will cause distress.
I realize one should not overeat on any food, but I do find that the ripe banana even if eaten to excess does not seem to do me any harm. Also, the banana seems to be a complete meal all by itself. It eaten with other foods, it can cause trouble. It really can’t be appreciated unless eaten alone. Even if combined with sweet fruits (dates, figs, raisins, peaches, grapes) it is not digested as well as when eaten alone. It seems to be a good food for both the hard laborer and sedentary worker. I am praising this fruit because by most people it is looked upon as ‘monkey food’ and of little importance as far as nourishing the body.
I don’t know how long one can live on the fruit alone, but I think with the addition of some nuts or seeds and some leafy vegetables one could probably maintain good health. This should be a comparatively simple diet; not too expensive. Since I do not have the facilities for cooking and preparing elaborate meals, “I think this could be the type of diet I can live on.”
This reader’s experience verifies my own. While I have found that bananas combine fairly well with dates, raisins, grapes and a few other sweet fruits and with green leafy vegetables, such as lettuce and celery, I have noted that they digest best if eaten alone. This calls to mind the fact that Tilden, also, after much testing of the matter, reached the conclusion that bananas are best eaten alone.
Tilden’s view, like that of the writer of the foregoing letter, was based upon tests made with the ungassed banana. Gassed bananas do not ripen and can hardly be said to form desirable additions to man’s diet.
The green banana is an almost insoluble starch; the ripe banana (ungassed) is a predigested sugar. It is quite probable that it is this sugar that makes a poor combination with other foods. As the gassed banana does not ripen, but rots instead, while still in the starch stage which is practically insoluble, it would seem quite natural that it should give trouble in digestion, even if eaten alone.
The banana, which contains about 1.30 per cent protein, is abundant in most of the minerals required by the body and is rich in vitamins. Dr. Carios Arguello, of Nicaragua, introduced me to a native strong man, while I was visiting in his country a few years ago, who stated that he lived largely on bananas, eating them in large quantities and that he found that they sustained him in health and strength as none of the other foods did.
He had one advantage over those of us who live in the United States; namely, he could get his bananas tree ripened and fresh from the banana tree. This is an advantage of considerable importance.