Probiotics and prebiotics are elements in certain foods that have a healing effect on bodies. They can help restore certain systems and heal conditions, especially in seniors.
Older People Are Less Able to Absorb Nutrients
The small intestine plays a huge role in digesting food and absorbing nutrients. A bacterium in the gut then distributes them throughout the body. The bacteria wildly reproduce, so there are more bacteria in the small intestine than cells in the entire body.
When the small intestine ages, the proliferation of gut bacteria slows down drastically. This means nutrients aren’t being absorbed as efficiently in aging bodies, and the body can’t function properly on missing nutrients.
The elderly are already susceptible to malnutrition due to medication side effects, dental problems and chronic diseases that interfere with eating foods. What’s the answer? Add probiotics and prebiotics to aging bodies.
What Are Probiotics and Prebiotics?
If you’ve read a lot about probiotics lately, there’s a good reason. When you eat cheddar, cottage and mozzarella cheeses, yogurt, olives, pickles, buttermilk, and green peas, you’re eating live cultures. These work with the intestinal bacteria to prevent and treat certain illnesses. Probiotic means “for life.”
Prebiotics are carbs that can’t be digested, so they move to the intestine to support probiotics, much like a fuel. They help probiotics in the digestion of food and metabolism of nutrients. When you eat onions, whole wheat bread, almonds, mushrooms, sweet potatoes, bananas, artichokes, and garlic, you’re eating prebiotics.
What Do These Do for Aging Bodies?
Adding probiotics and prebiotics to aging bodies adds substantially to the good flora in the intestines. Nutrients are better absorbed. Some illnesses and conditions subside while the body functions at an elevated level. The aging body is healthier, with its immune system strengthened to fight off infections more efficiently.
One interesting effect probiotics has on aging bodies is a decrease in diarrhea. We don’t need to tell seniors how diarrhea dehydrates the body and drains it of vital nutrients. Studies show that taking prebiotics as well helped with inflammation of the gut along with preventing diarrhea.
Probiotics’and Prebiotics’Benefits for Seniors
Using food as medicine has been healing for thousands of years. Some of the conditions or illnesses treated with the above mentioned foods are intestinal conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome. Studies show that these bacteria help with vaginal and urinary tract infections as well as the prevention of the development of childhood allergies.
One of the most important benefits of prebiotics is that they improve seniors’ digestion. This is disrupted by a dozen different things, but eating foods containing prebiotics restores the gut to normal functioning.
As your intestine metabolizes the indigestible prebiotic fibers, they turn into short-chain fatty acids. These strengthen the walls of the intestine, facilitate digestion, stimulate regularity and prevent diarrhea as well as constipation.
Prebiotics decrease inflammation. Inflammation is one of the top killers in the world and is the basis of heart disease. Inflammation is even thought to be linked to obesity and diabetes. Studies are now showing that eating probiotics as well as prebiotics is strongly related to beneficial effects against obesity and type 2diabetes.
Something every senior feels at some time is anxiety and depression for any of several reasons. Medical research into the relationship between the intestinal flora and the hormones of mood is still just beginning.
We do know that if you eat probiotics and prebiotics, they metabolize in the intestines and from there they help neurotransmitters make hormones that focus on moods and stress relief. Prebiotics have a certain influence on the brain’s neurotransmitters, so if one of them misbehaves, the prebiotics step in to fix the problem.
Overall Better Health
Bone health is especially important for the elderly since they are susceptible to falls and broken bones. Prebiotics facilitate the absorption of nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and iron, which are all components of healthy bones. Studies show that eight grams of prebiotics per day help the body absorb more calcium, resulting in better bone density.
Age reduces the strength of the body’s systems, thus heart disease, weakened immune system and arthritis may develop. Prebiotics lower cholesterol and the components responsible for free radicals, insulin resistance, and inflammation, balancing the body by equalizing the components and ensuring better health.