New research out of Appalachian State University shows that the humble banana may have some hidden benefits. 

The study suggests that a combination of water and a banana is not only as effective as sports drinks for exercise recovery, but quite likely more effective.

It turns out the fruit mimics ibuprofen, meaning it could reduce pain and inflammation. Those in the experiment showed a significant increase in serotonin and dopamine levels after eating bananas, resulting in less swelling and less pain.

Dr. David Nieman is a professor of Health and Exercise Science at App State. He says that ibuprofen may not be all it's cracked up to be.

“We showed that ibuprofen actually amplifies exercise-induced inflammation and induces mild kidney dysfunction," he says. "And we're telling athletes not to use ibuprofen cause it causes mild intestinal cell damage."          

Dr. Nieman says more research should be done before you toss the pills and peel the banana instead, but he's confident the fruit is a safer, side-effect-free substitute.

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