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How Digestive Systems Change with Age

August 25, 2014

How Digestive Systems Change with Age

Just like every other system in the body, our digestive system changes as we age. Our digestive system, and therefore our natural defenses, becomes more susceptible to changes in our diet, environment, and medication as we enter our golden years. Up to 40% of older adults have one or more age-related digestive symptom each year. Problems like bowel inactivity and occasional acid reflux are all more common in older adults and previous research has shown that around age 60, there is a significant drop in the number of probiotic beneficial bacteria, specifically bifidobacteria in the gut.

Because the digestive system is more sensitive in older adults, often exacerbated by increased use of medications, and environmental factors, the gastrointestinal balance of bacteria can be more easily disrupted. This means that it becomes more important to consider overall digestive health in order to stay healthy and thrive in our later years. It has taken a lot of effort to live that long, and you want to enjoy the rest of your life!

There are three major factors that can affect the balance of older adults’ gastrointestinal system.

  1. Diet – Just like all adults, diet has a huge impact on the health of the intestinal tract of older adults. To keep the digestive tract healthy, a diet rich in fiber from sources such as fruits and vegetables can help to keep a slowing system moving. It’s also critical to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can contribute to constipation. Fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut can also contribute to the healthy bacterial balance in the intestine, helping ease uncomfortable symptoms.
  2. Environment – According to a study from University College Cork in Ireland of the gut microbiota of older adults (over age 78) showed that change in environment correlated with change in the intestinal tract. Older adults who were in community living situations fared better than those in long-term living facilities. This is likely due to a large number of factors like food served, stress, and the often already compromised health of those in long-term care, but it is clear environment has an effect on the digestive health of older adults.
  3. Medication – As people age, health problems can cause them to be on more medications. Often those medications have a negative effect on the healthy flora of the digestive tract, sometimes even eliminating large amounts of beneficial bacteria. Without a good base of the beneficial bacteria, it is easier for bad bacteria to take over the intestinal tract and that can cause a whole host of health complications.

When environmental factors – including a diet outside of the person’s control like in a hospital or long-term care facility – and medications throw off the natural balance of the intestines, it can lead to other issues especially occasional constipation.  It becomes more important to eat a proper diet and begin a regular program of probiotic supplements to help replenish the billions of beneficial bacteria that keep your digestive tract operating properly and smoothly. We highly recommend using a true probiotic layering system to help get everything back in balance such as Natren Digesta Lac to promote regularity, Natren Bifido Factor specifically formulated for the large intestine, colon support and Megadophilus which is designed to provide support and assistance for the small intestine.  Natren’s probiotic products can be used in combination with one another to ensure maximum benefit.   Natren is one of the only companies that offer a true probiotic layering system and they are a safe and natural approach to promoting optimal health and digestive balance.

The post How Digestive Systems Change with Age appeared first on Natren Probiotics Blog.




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