Aging and digestion have a lot of things in common, but the biggest connection is that both it and we are slowing down in some ways.
However, it does hold up better than a lot of our body functions, for a surprising reason; it has a lot of backups and reserves built into it.
But even with these backup plans nature put into it, statistics show that close to 50% of all of us over 60 years old, will have some type of digestive issue.
Aging and digestion generally begins when we cannot eat some of the things that we used to, as well as some things affecting in ways we are not used to.
Here are some of the areas of our body that are becoming affected.
Aging and digestion begins with our Esophagus, and with each year, it is losing a little of both its strength and tension.
In the vast majority of cases the eating process itself is not compromised, but several older adults may begin to experience some form of esophageal issues.
The lining in our stomach is also more prone to issues, simply because it cannot resist or stop some damages like it used to.
It is also starting to shrink a little, and because of this, we cannot store or accommodate the same amounts of food like we used to.
This is one of the major reasons as we get older, we are told by our doctors to eat more often.
Our small intestine is next on the list with aging and digestion, as some of us will begin to experience some lactose issues.
Even though our absorption ability is still very strong, it too has begun to slow down. The loss of some of its structure opens the door for some bacterium that it used to handle very easily.
Our Pancreas loses both some of its weight and depth, as well as some of the tissue strength.
The good news however, is that even with this aging process we are all going through, our digestive enzymes are still fairly strong.
Our large intestine changes very little with aging and digestion, but our rectum does. It actually increases in size, which leads to constipation as we get older.
There are several issues that all of us will face, and some will be affected more than others.
They include the following.
As we all begin to age, our metabolism is just not the same as it once was, and this can and does lead to constipation.
There are a number of age related potential causes, but in the majority of cases, we are simply not as active as we once were, and we are also not drinking water like we used to.
IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, can affect us at any age, and is on the opposite end of the spectrum as constipation.
Even though the major functions of our large intestine do not change much as we get older, they do get a bit more sensitive.
Over sensitive nerves in our large intestine is the major cause of IBS.
However, perhaps the largest threat with aging and digestion is Diverticular disease.
It is similar to IBS in that it produces gas, cramps, bloating, as well as constipation, but you do not have the diarrhea with this condition like you do with IBS.
While this condition in most cases is easy to treat, it can also lead to diverticulitis, which can and in most cases will, lead to nausea, chills, and severe fevers.
Ulcers and NSAIDs are connected for one simple reason; NSAIDs trigger them.
A lot of us as we get older are using NSAIDs to control arthritis, as well as using them as pain medications.
However, one of their major side effects, especially with extended use, is bleeding in our stomach and ulcers.
Polyps are another major issue with aging and digestion, and while the major consensus is that they are more common in men than women, women are also at risk.
I was very fortunate in that when I was 40, I hand the examination and my doctor found several and removed them.
Needless to say, I have the same process every two years as they are the leading cause of colon cancer in all of us.
GERD can and does attack us as we get older, and even if you have acid reflux and heartburn, this condition still lays in waiting.
As our stomach loses some of its strength, GERD triggers our stomach acid and on occasion some its contest, to flow back into our esophagus.
Aging and digestion have some major issues that we can all do to help, and they include some of the following.
Becoming more active and exercising can do wonders for our digestive system.
Think back in time and try something that we used to do and try it again, just do it in moderation.
Exercise of any kind at our age is critical, and will stimulate our immune system to react to some of these challenges.
If you have constipation, a good crisp walk will do wonders.
The adage “we are what we eat’ is very true, but it should also include “we are what we drink”.
Drinking 8-10 glasses of water instead of 8-10 cups of coffee will do wonders for this system, as will managing our weight.
Not only will controlling our weight help with high blood pressure and heart conditions, it will also helps stimulate most of our digestive natural reserves.
The final link with aging and digestion is to manage our medications.
We are all taking a lot more than we used to, but take the time to learn about the side effects of each one of them.
If they say take on an empty stomach, take with food, or drink plenty of fluid, follow these directions and watch the changes.
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