Does eating a banana stop you from getting too drunk?

Hi, I'm Kim. You have told us all about the things that don't sober people up but me and my friends were wondering whether there were things you could do that could stop you from getting so drunk that you got sick. I know that not drinking too much is most probably the best thing to do, but sometimes accidents happen. One of my friends says that eating a banana is the best thing to do before you go out drinking and that stops you getting sick. Is that true?

What a great question Kim! The simple answer is - no, bananas cannot prevent you from getting drunk but, surprisingly, there is a link between bananas and alcohol, not so much in preventing drunkenness but by making a drunk person feel better the morning after, i.e., easing a hangover.

The first time I ever heard this question about bananas (and I hear it fairly regularly) I wondered what the person was thinking - what could bananas have to do with alcohol? It would appear that, as always, a couple of 'true statements' have been combined due to 'Chinese Whispers' (one person sharing information with another, then another and so on, and each time it's shared it changes slightly) and a 'not-so-true statement' is created. The 'eating before drinking' part of this myth almost certainly comes from the fact that making sure you eat something before you start drinking alcohol is the one of the best ways to protect yourself from being sick later in the night. I have found some websites that say that because a banana is a "slippery and sticky substance" it will line the insides of your stomach for longer but that makes little sense and I can't find any real evidence to support this.

Where the 'bananas' part of this story comes from is that this yellow fruit appears to be a great food to eat the morning after a night of drinking to assist in recovery from that dreaded hangover that so many drinkers experience. Bananas contain a whole pile of vitamins and minerals that may make the 'morning after' feel not so bad, particularly potassium. When you get drunk you can lose a great deal of potassium and electrolytes because of alcohol's diuretic properties (you may have noticed that people drinking alcohol go to the toilet an awful lot!). By eating a banana the next morning, a drunk person can replenish their diet with one of the best natural sources of potassium there is…

Some experts even suggest having a banana, along with a couple of glasses of water, before going to bed after a night of drinking in an effort to reduce the potential hangover effect. Others even say that boiling two banana peels in one cup of water, and drinking the 'banana tea' may offer a little relief the next day.

It needs to be made clear that bananas are not a 'hangover cure' (put simply, nothing cures a hangover apart from time), but it would appear that some of the symptoms that people experience the morning after a big night out can be relieved to some extent by eating this popular fruit. They certainly do not prevent you from getting drunk, however, no matter how many you eat beforehand! As you say Kim, the best way to make sure that you don't get sick when you drink is to not drink too much ... but as you so beautifully said - accidents happen! If a friend does ever get sick after drinking, never leave them alone and make sure you get help should you ever feel that things are getting out of hand.

First published: March 2013