performance-enhancing potassium

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Sports nutritionists and environmentalists, please go to the comments to offer a more useful response than I can to this question from Charlotte:

As a professional circus artist I’ve always heard that I should eat bananas to avoid muscle cramps, apparently because the potassium in the bananas does some electrolyte magic on my muscles.

I perform a handbalance act that includes balancing en pointe (on my toes) on little tiny platforms, so getting cramps in the arches of my feet is a definite problem. But I’m trying to eat in an environmentally responsible way, buying fruits and vegetables that are grown close to wherever I am, which is usually in North America or Western Europe and definitely very far away from wherever bananas come from.

So answer me this: does eating bananas actually prevent me getting cramps in my feet? Is there something else (with less of a carbon footprint) that I could eat instead?

Since you’re travelling around, I can’t gauge the potential carbon footprint of every item you might eat whilst on two continents. Bear in mind that pumpkin and sunflower seeds, cocoa, paprika, chervil, avocados, nuts, salmon, orange juice, potato skin, beans, spinach, dried apricots and whelks are potasstic, so mix them all together into a delicious paste and carry it wherever you go for a portable potassium banquet.

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3 Responses to “performance-enhancing potassium”

  1. greg Says:

    Agree with Martin, evidence shows because of the incredible efficiencies of the mass produced supermarket food industry, and the extremely minimal co2 from shipping and highly efficient transport it often better for the environment to shop from tescos than it is from your local farmers markets.

    Food miles are irrelevant, co2 ouput isnt, and most (not all) fruit and veg coming from a supermarket will be highly efficient with low co2 output. Even in places where local food could be exclusively consumed the effect is negligible. There is a good study about an area of California import 80% of their food but export nearly all food. Study showed the co2 saved would be less than 1% by eating exclusively locally.

    A banana from bolivia you buy from a supermarket will quite possibly have a lower co2 emmision than almost thing you buy at a farmers market. Transport and so on is often so inefficient that even having a half full van means supermarkets will always outperform on co2 efficiencies. Pick your own (unless you walk/cycle to it) has got to be one of the most co2 intensive methods of shopping as you are driving an entire car to move a few punnets around.

    Also you then get to support the development of the economies and improvement of living standards in those countries.

    My favorite comment I read about this was ‘ I suspect the really eco-friendly way to shop is “go to the biggest supermarket you can in the smallest vehicle you can as late in the day as you can”; but cycling to the 24-hr Tesco at midnight isn’t quite as glamorous as striking up a conversation with the surprisingly handsome and well-read farmer’s son in the “local” farm shop’

  2. Martin Says:

    You are fooling yourself with the whole local food thing. It costs very little in CO2 terms to move food round the planet, but it costs in CO2 terms to grow food in areas it is not meant to be grown – for example the overall CO2 of Spanish strawberries eaten in the UK is lower than that of most British strawberries eaten in the UK. So eat mass produced food for the lowest CO2 footprint.

    And just lick some salt if you want potassium.

  3. James C. Says:

    I don’t know, but there are way better sources of potassium.
    Foods highest in potassium per calorie:
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000122000000000000000.html
    Foods highest in potassium per gram:
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000122000000000000000-w.html
    Bananas:
    http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1846/2

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