According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, digestive health changes as you age. With the number of people living longer and needing greater care, it is more important than ever that you now take care of your digestive health. This article will explain common digestive health problems that may arise with age and natural remedies to deal with them.
Common Digestive Health Problems as You Age
Constipation is the inability to go more than one day without a bowel movement. The colon muscles do not function properly, and stool stays in the digestive tract for too long. This piles up in the colon and rectum. Most of the time, the cause of constipation is too little fiber in your diet.
This is an abnormal development within the colon walls that causes small pouches to form in them. The pouches slowly fill up with mucus, making it hard for waste to pass through them and out of the body. This causes the colon to become uncomfortable and full, leading to pain and bloating.
3. Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease
This is a common inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the digestive tract when the body becomes inflamed by bacteria such as E. coli, Clostridium perfringens, Helicobacter pylori or Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.
The inflammation causes the immune system to attack the colon and causes it to start bleeding from the inside. The intestinal lining begins to break down and stops the mass production of mucus as well. As this occurs, waste that was already stuck in the colon can come out into the abdomen or may leak through skin breaks. People with ulcerative colitis almost always have other bowel problems such as diverticulosis or Crohn’s disease.
This happens when there is an imbalance between your mucous lining and the digestive juices. The mucous lining protects the walls of your stomach from the highly acidic digestive enzymes and acids. When it loses its protective barrier, chemicals can get into your bloodstream, causing ulcers to form in your esophagus, stomach or first section of the small intestine.
Polyps are abnormal growths in the digestive tract. They can be small benign growths, or they can be serious health problems such as colon cancer. Over time, polyps can become irritated and bleed, which may cause symptoms such as bleeding from the rectum.
Gastritis is an inflammatory response of your stomach lining to overeating and long-term vomiting that may occur after consuming certain foods. It can cause inflammation of the stomach and decrease stomach acid production.
Ways to Better Digestive Health as You Age
1. Stay hydrated
The most important thing to remember when trying to improve or maintain your digestive health is staying hydrated. Keeping your body well-hydrated can ensure that your digestive system runs smoothly and does not become inflamed or stressed. Drinking a minimum of 8 to 10 glasses of water a day can help keep your digestive tract running smoothly and comfortably. Water helps stimulate the body’s secretion of enzymes necessary for proper digestion.
2. Avoid lying down
While you may feel the need to lie down after eating a big meal, this can make digestion more difficult. After eating, gravity pulls your food into your stomach instead of your intestines when you lie down. This, in turn, causes food to travel more slowly through your digestive system. The slower progress of food through your intestinal tract can cause gas and bloat.
3. Take a warm bath or use a heating bag
Use a warm bath or warming bag to increase the temperature of your intestines for 20 minutes, as this helps your digestive system to work more easily. While this may not seem like a big help, it can have a huge impact on overall digestion. Taking short, frequent breaks while trying to digest food can undo some of the good effects of eating a meal.
4. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol
Smoking can harm your digestive health. It constricts blood vessels in the digestive tract, leading to hemorrhoids and ulcers. Smoking can also increase the chance of developing cancer by altering the hormonal balance in your body. While drinking alcohol may not directly harm you, it can also cause bloating and gas within your digestive system.
5. Maintain a healthy diet
Eating more fiber can help your digestive health. Your body needs the proper amount of fiber to maintain a healthy gut and proper digestive function in general. A diet high in meat and low in vegetables is less likely to be healthy for you as you age, which will not help your digestive system work properly, leading to more stomach discomfort and bloating.
As you age, your body changes and naturally begins to slow down. This can cause digestive health problems such as constipation, diverticulosis, ulcerative colitis and ulcers. It is important to take care of your digestive health now to prevent these issues from occurring. It is a common misconception that some of these issues are normal as you age, but they are not. Understanding what causes them and the steps you can take to avoid them will help you get the most out of your life.