Aging Digestive System: How to Maintain Gut Health As We Age

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Aging Digestive System: How to Maintain Gut Health As We Age

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By Lacey Batch

As we age, the amount of digestive secretions decreases. This can lead to all kinds of digestive issues including Candida albicans

On top of that, things like inadequate diet, an unhealthy or imbalanced microbiome and poor dentition further weakens our gut; leading to poor nutrition absorption. All that takes a toll on the immune function.  

A poor gut can lead to unwanted molecules passing into the circulatory system; a condition known as “leaky gut.” The condition can set into motion systemic inflammation which is the root of most chronic diseases. 

Poor elimination, abdominal discomfort, bloating, occasional gas, fatigue, fatty stool, headache, systemic and local outcomes are all signs of declining gut health and poor digestion. 

In this post, we look at ways to combat gut issues during old age. They also work perfectly if you’re on a Candida diet.  

What are the symptoms and causes?  

Gravity  

With age, due to gravity, the diaphragm starts to sink which causes a decreased support. As a result, the esophagus starts to touch the stomach. This condition is called hiatal hernia.  

Typical symptoms include reflux and heartburn. Sometimes medication can help, but often surgery is the only option. 

Weak sphincter muscle and poor lifestyle  

Both of these factors can cause hemorrhoids. It’s a condition wherein veins become swollen in the gastrointestinal tract.  

Chronic constipation   

The digestive system is such that the food has to move through a number of muscle contractions for absorption and bowel movement to happen. With age, this digestive process can become slow. 

Slow digestion causes the body to absorb more water from the food. This is the main cause of constipation.  

You can fix that by ensuring hydration at all times. Inactivity is another big factor that contributes to constipation. Therefore, it is a good idea to get at least half an hour of mild physical activity every day. Just going for a walk is good enough.  

Multiple medications 

The medications we take are not without their side effects. The first thing they do is disrupt the gut microbiome population. Medications for muscle, joint pain and blood pressure all cause constipation. Additionally, it can cause diarrhea, nausea, ulcers and abdominal discomfort as well. 

Therefore, always remember to ensure good activity and water intake. NSAIDs like ibuprofen further increase the chances of ulcers and stomach bleeding.  

While on these medications, make sure to check your stool color. If the color is too dark or there seem to be signs of bleeding; talk to your doctor. 

Ways and Tips for Maintaining Gut Health during Old Age 

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Maintain a Healthy Diet 

  • Eat as many leafy, green vegetables, whole grains and fruits as possible. Shoot for a rainbow of vegetables. 
  • Avoid processed carbs.  
  • Cut back on salt consumption. 
  • Avoid caffeinated, alcoholic, processed, beverages with artificial sweeteners. 
  • Eat a variety of proteins like lean meats, fish and beans. 

Avoid foods that trigger heartburn or reflux 

Different foods can cause stomach issues in different people. For some, dairy is more problematic. For others, gluten is the culprit. 

Trying an elimination diet will tell you which foods are triggering/worsening stomach issues. You may also want to get tested for certain food allergies and sensitivities to spot the culprit. Eliminate those foods from your diet and you should see a drastic improvement in your gut health. 

Go for a Candida cleanse if you’ve been diagnosed with a Candida yeast infection.  

Check your medications  

If you’re on some prescription or over-the-counter drugs that seems to be worsening the gut problems, it’s better to speak with your doctor. Sometimes certain medications can cause diarrhea, nausea, constipation, etc. Tell them about the side effects you’re experiencing and see if they can recommend a milder substitute.   

Stay active 

Needless to say, even a mild form of physical activity can offer tons of health benefits. It also helps with constipation. Staying active is one of the best things you can do for your health in old age. If possible, get at least some muscle strengthening exercise twice a week.   

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Consider a probiotic  

Probiotics carry live chains of enzymes aka “good bacteria.” You can either opt for probiotic-rich foods, or you can go with supplementation. Foods like tempeh, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, miso and more are all rich sources of probiotics.   

Drink plenty of fluids 

During old age, your body’s ability to signal thirst reduces. As a result, most medical emergencies happen due to a lack of hydration.  

It is, therefore, a good practice to keep drinking water and plenty of healthy fluids throughout the day – even if you’re not feeling particularly thirsty. If you’re on some kind of diuretic, speak with your doctors. They may be able to tell you ways to tackle dehydration.  

Get more sleep 

There’s a good amount of medical literature that links lack of sleep with higher obesity prevalence. Poor quality of sleep can set you up for all kinds of digestive issues and gut disorders. 

Therefore, make sure to get quality sleep for at least eight hours every day

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Eat more fiber 

This is the number one advice all nutritionists including, Eric Bakker, give to seniors – consume more fiber. Eat more vegetables, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and whole grains. Fibrous foods make it easy for food to keep moving through the digestive tract.  

Another way in which fibrous foods help is by being naturally low in fat and making you feel fuller quickly. Eventually, this helps you to maintain and lose weight. 

Get good bacteria 

Other than including a probiotic in your diet, you should also focus on consuming prebiotic foods. While probiotics will increase the total population of good bacteria, prebiotic foods will feed those bacteria so they stay alive longer.  

Prebiotic foods are asparagus, garlic, onions. Both prebiotics and probiotics keep the food moving through the intestine, thus easing symptoms of constipation.  

Conclusion 

Old age doesn’t have to be a traumatic period ridden with health issues. If you prepare in advance, you can stay just as healthy and disease-free even during the later years of your life. 

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