Everyone experiences digestive problems at some time in their lives but, as we get older, these problems can become a daily occurrence. Digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhoea, bloating and acid reflux can make life miserable on a daily basis.
Why Does Our Digestive Health Deteriorate with Age?
As we age, our digestive tract, like many other bodily functions, just doesn’t work as well as it used to. We produce less gastric, pancreatic and other digestive secretions and that, together with the weakening of muscles in our gastrointestinal tract and the slowing down of new cell production, can produce the problems listed above.
Ways to Improve Digestive Health as We Age
There are many steps that can be taken to prevent or, at least, slow down this degenerative process: –
- Exercise Regularly
Exercise is important for all ages but it’s especially important for our digestive health as we age. Exercise, especially stretching and yoga, encourages normal contractions of the bowel, thus preventing constipation.
- Chew your Food
Digestion starts with chewing, where the body releases an enzyme called amylase to help us break down the food. Remember to take care of your teeth and gums as you need them to chew properly.
- Don’t Overeat
As we age, we should eat little and often to ensure our digestive system isn’t overloaded. It’s also important to maintain a healthy body weight.
- Add a Probiotic
A good quality probiotic can have a positive impact on digestive health. As we age so our good gut bacteria declines, leading to a slowing down of the digestive process and constipation.
- Eat Gut Friendly Food
Dietary prebiotics contained in foods such as oats, bananas and onions can increase the levels of good bacteria in the gut. Polyphenols, found in foods such as blueberries and green tea, and fermented foods, such as kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, will also help to repopulate the gut with healthy bacteria.
- Drink Lots of Fluids – Especially Water
Drinking plenty of fluids enables the body to eliminate waste efficiently by softening stools. Remember, that once your body tells you that you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.