How Seniors Can Improve Their Gastrointestinal HealthApril 6, 2023
A great deal of change comes with aging. You know the common signs—wrinkles and greying hair—but aging impacts every aspect of your body, including your gastrointestinal health. It’s an issue many don’t consider in their younger years, but as they age, it grows painfully apparent how important it is to take care of your gut health. No two people experience the exact same changes in their gut health. It’s important for older adults to know how seniors can improve their gastrointestinal health so they can live the healthiest, happiest life possible.
How your gastrointestinal health changes as you age
As you age, you may experience reduced amounts of gastric, pancreatic, and other digestive secretions. Poor dentition (problems with your teeth) can also have a serious impact on how you digest food. Throughout all this, your gut microbiome is also changing.
All of these changes individually, and compounded, can lead to more serious conditions, including:
- Constipation—difficulty passing bowel movements
- GERD—stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipe
- Liver disease—damage to the liver that prevents it from functioning properly
- Colon cancer—older adults are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer, so it is important to get regular colonoscopies starting at the age of 50.
How to improve your gut health
If you’re looking for ways to improve your gastrointestinal health, there is one key detail to remember: lead a healthy lifestyle. Just as your lifestyle impacts every other aspect of your overall health, it has serious implications for your gut health too. Make sure you are taking the steps to live a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis.
Liquids such as water and orange juice are key to helping your digestive tract move more smoothly. Remember, however, that drinks with too much caffeine or alcohol can actually dehydrate you. Limit these types of beverages and stick to water as your primary drink.
Eat the right amounts of the right foods
Have you heard of the phrase “eat the rainbow?” This refers to eating all the colorful varieties of the fruits and vegetable families. These nutritious foods are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are helpful for your digestion. Make sure each of your meals has a healthy serving of colorful fruits and vegetables.
It’s also important you make sure you’re not overeating. Doing so can lead to heartburn and indigestion. Stick to healthy portions of whole grains, lean protein, and fruits and vegetables for the best health results possible.
Don’t skip out on fiber and probiotics
High-fiber foods—such as fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts—“grease” your digestion so food moves through it with more ease. Make sure you’re getting enough fiber in your diet. If you think you might benefit from more, talk to your doctor about taking a supplement.
Similarly, probiotics are great for the good gut bacteria in your diet. In addition to assisting with healthy digestion, they are said to produce substances that fight viruses and infections. Foods like yogurt and granola bars are fantastic options to boost your probiotics, but as mentioned above, you can also speak to your doctor about taking a supplement.
Aerobic exercise, in particular, improves circulation, and as a result leads to improved digestion. It also helps you maintain a healthy weight, which has an impact on your gut health. Try incorporating more activities like walking, biking, swimming, and dancing into your daily schedule.
Take care of your teeth
This one may not be as intuitive to you, but your teeth health is another necessary factor to maintain for your gut health. You need to be able to chew your food into small enough pieces that can be easily absorbed by your body. To maintain your teeth health, brush and floss twice a day and keep on top of your dental check-ups.
Your home care worker can help you maintain your digestive health
Maintaining a healthy diet is harder when you’re older. Cooking can be a tiring task. Physical limitations can make running to the grocery store an arduous experience. Thankfully, with the help of an at-home caregiver, you don’t have to worry about any of this.
If you need help with the activities of daily living, give us a call at 773-274-9262. We would love to speak with you about our program.
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