Current Weather
The Spy FM

Sorry, But Bananas Won’t Calm Your Caffeine Jitters

Filed by KOSU News in Science.
March 13, 2013

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]

Leave a Reply

5AM to 9AM Morning Edition

Morning Edition

For more than two decades, NPR's Morning Edition has prepared listeners for the day ahead with two hours of up-to-the-minute news, background analysis, commentary, and coverage of arts and sports.

Listen Live Now!

9AM to 10AM The Takeaway

The Takeaway

A fresh alternative in morning news, "The Takeaway" provides a breadth and depth of world, national and regional news coverage that is unprecedented in public media.

View the program guide!

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center