What It Means When Eating A Banana Makes You Gag

For some people, going to the dentist makes them gag, whether it's because of the anxiety of going to the dentist or the idea of having someone's finger in the back of their throat. The gag reflex kicks in as the pharynx in the back of the throat constricts. We develop this gag reflex during infancy because our stomachs aren't ready for solid foods. The gag reflex is triggered when the nerves in your mouth detect something foreign, such as a large chunk of food or a foreign object (via Medical News Today). The nerves send a message to the brain, and the brain tells the pharynx to close so you don't choke.

When you're about 6 or 7 months old, your gag reflex relaxes and allows you to consume solid food. Yet, the National Library of Medicine says about 10 to 15% of people's gag reflexes don't desensitize. Even as adults, they will experience a hypersensitive gag reflex while eating certain foods, like bananas or mashed potatoes.

Why people have hypersensitive gag reflex

You could experience a hypersensitive gag reflex for several reasons, according to the National Library of Medicine. Sometimes the gag reflex is triggered by something physical, such as the sticky texture of bananas. Anxiety could trigger the gag reflex, which could partially explain why some people will experience a hypersensitive gag reflex even before a dentist touches their mouths. Your gag reflex could also kick in when you see or smell something off-putting (via Medical News Today).

A hypersensitive gag reflex could stem from some food trauma during childhood, such as a time when you choked on some type or texture of food (via NBC News). You could also experience this hypersensitivity if you weren't introduced to solid foods until after you were 7 months old. While your body can't tolerate solid foods before you're 4 months old, your gag reflex will gradually relax when you're 4 to 6 months old as more solid foods are introduced. Lastly, a hypersensitive gag reflex could also be inherited from your parents.

Relaxing your gag reflex

If certain foods like bananas, mashed potatoes, or juice with extra pulp make you want to gag, a few remedies can help relax or desensitize your gag reflex. According to Medical News Today, acupressure might help with a hypersensitive gag reflex. Try opening your palm and applying some pressure to the center of your palm. You can also try squeezing your left thumb into your left palm, closing your fingers around your thumb to press deeper.

Brushing the back of your tongue might also train your gag reflex to gradually relax. Begin to brush for about 15 to 30 seconds at an area in the back of your mouth where you feel the gag reflex start to engage. Repeat this practice twice a day, gradually moving the brush further back as your gag reflex becomes less sensitive. You don't want to get rid of the gag reflex altogether because it still serves to protect you from choking.