Feel that rumbling sound in your stomach? It might be hunger or it might be the first indication that you need to start eating clean. Here’s something you probably know but never thought about: as you age, every part of your body—brain, heart, bones, and digestive system— gets affected.
Your body functions start to slow down and your digestive tract stops working as efficiently as it once used to. This is because the small intestine and large intestine’s muscles get weaker and stiffer. The tissues get damaged and cell formation is slow, which causes a number of problems. These include:
- Fecal incontinence
- Peptic ulcers
- Stomach pain
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Irritable bowel syndrome
Amongst these, the one problem that most seniors experience as they go past 65 is GERD. This causes problems between the stomach and esophagus, which causes acid indigestion and heartburn.
Aging and Digestion
People who suffer from diabetes usually have problems with their bowel movements. When this problem escalates, it affects the digestive tract and causes Gastroparesis. This disease delays the time taken by the stomach to clear out its contents, which causes nausea and bloating.
When blood to the digestive tract decreases, the bowel movement gets affected and causes severe cramps.
Hypertension and Arthritis
Both these diseases require high doses of medication that can cause problems in the digestive tract.
Preserving Digestive Health
Chew Food Slowly and Properly
The enzyme amylase in our mouth is what breaks down food for easy digestion. As you age, the production of amylase decreases, which is why it necessary to chew your food slowly.
Eat Smaller Meals
Increasing age can cause a loss of appetite. Since your stomach’s elasticity is no longer the same as it used to be and the speed of digestion decreases, it’s better to eat smaller meals. Eat as often as you want but make sure the meals are not that heavy and are more nutritious.
Keep Up With the Fluid Intake
Peristalsis is known as muscle contractions that push food along your digestive tract. When you get older, these muscles weaken and the process slows down. This causes the food to sit longer in your colon, which results in constipation. By staying well hydrated, the stool softens and passes more easily from your digestive tract.
Monitor Your Lactose Production
In seniors, when the production of the enzyme lactase decreases, they start experiencing stomach cramps. In some cases, they even experience diarrhea. This is why it is important to get yourself checked early to find out if you are lactose intolerant. Lack of milk, the most important source of calcium, can have devastating effects on the body. So, make sure that your diet is balanced to avoid any digestion problems.
If you are not following a healthy diet or for some reason are not able to, the amount of healthy bacteria in your body decreases. This is why doctors recommend doing a course of probiotics to relieve your body of all the toxins and bring it back to a healthy state.