As we get older, our bodies start to change- including our ability to digest what we eat. A variety of age-related factors, including medications, inactivity, and even gravity, can take a toll and contribute to our digestive struggles. But the good news is that things such as acid reflux and constipation are irritations that you can often treat with simple lifestyle changes to get your digestive tract back on track. Here’s how to improve your digestion and stay in tip-top shape.
1. A Healthy DietA healthy diet is one the most important things you can do not only for healthy digestion but also for your overall health as you age. Learning to maintain a healthy weight, diversify your food selection, and avoid foods that your body doesn’t necessarily agree with are critical aspects of a healthy diet.
It’s easy to take just one more scoop of mashed potatoes at dinner. But as with everything, too much of a good thing can be harmful. Overeating food requires your body to work harder. Your organs must secrete extra hormones and enzymes to break food down faster. For example, the stomach breaks down food by producing hydrochloric acid. If you overeat, this acid may work its way back up into the esophagus resulting in heartburn. By keeping meal portions to a reasonable size, you will not have the risk of feeling uncomfortable due to heartburn.
By adding various foods into your diet, you can help encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. Good bacteria, such as probiotics, help break down compounds, such as fiber and extract their nutrients. As a result, nutrients our bodies would have otherwise missed.
Consider adding more fiber to your meals by including raw vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Along with eating a variety of proteins such as beans, fish, and lean meat. The more diverse your diet, the better! If your diet is lacking vital nutrients through a diverse diet, consider using a supplement such as our Whole Food Multivitamin Plus.
Avoid Food Sensitivities
Food sensitivity can cause the worst stomach pains. For some, dairy is the culprit, while for others, it is gluten. Everyone is sensitive to different foods. To determine if you are susceptible to certain types of foods, try an elimination diet if you are uncertain by removing goods that could be causing you to have stomach discomfort. Another alternative is discussing with your doctor about getting tested for good allergies and food sensitivities.
If you feel discomfort from eating certain foods, it is always best to avoid them in the future. When you have food sensitivities or are allergic to certain foods, your immune system triggers cells to release antibodies which can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting.
2. Staying HydratedStaying hydrated is essential for our digestive tracts to keep track, especially as we get older. Our digestive tract moves food through our body using a series of muscle contractions, known as peristalsis. As we age, peristalsis can slow down and cause food to move through our colon slowly. With food sitting for longer in the colon, more water can be absorbed from food waste, resulting in constipation.
Staying hydrated can help soften the stool, so they pass more quickly through our digestive tract. A good fluid intake can be maintained by drinking plenty of water, herbal teas, broths, or “juicy” goods such as watermelon. However, as we age, the thirst sensation we get decreases, so waiting until you feel thirsty is not always a good indication of how hydrated your body is. A better gauge is to pay attention to the color of your urine, which should remain a pale star color if you are well hydrated. Any darker, and you may need to up your fluid intake.
3. Consider ProbioticsThe “good” or “helpful” bacteria, probiotics, in our digestive tract are known to be a massive support for our digestive health. Unfortunately, as we age, the composition of these bacteria has been shown to decrease. Low levels may manifest as symptoms such as constipation and bloating. A way to enhance the populations of these bacteria is to use a good quality probiotic supplement such as our Optimal Probiotic. Our advanced acid-resistant Delayed-Release capsules are packed with Inulin prebiotics extracted from Jerusalem Artichoke, protecting and nourishing the probiotic strains as they make their way to your digestive tract.
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs have been known to cause digestive problems. Medicines can irritate the esophagus, stomach irritation, constipation, and diarrhea. It is essential to talk to your doctor about possible side effects and ask for a substitute if the medicine is causing any of these symptoms or other concerns.