Almost 40 percent of adults in their 60s experience digestion-related issues. This has a lot to do with the way our bodies change as we age. Our lifestyle and any medications we may be taking can also shape the performance of our digestive system.
Unfortunately, digestion is one bodily function that slows down as we age. Muscles in the digestive tract tend to become weaker and stiffer, while the tissues become more prone to damage. While many people in their 60s feel ashamed about their digestive issues, it’s important to note that this is a regular part of aging for many, and nothing to feel embarrassed about.
Luckily, there are ways to improve your digestive health. We list out some tips here.
Types of Digestive Issues
But first, it’s important to understand the types of digestive issues that you may face so that you know how to prevent or mitigate them.
- Dementia, Stroke, and Parkinson’s Disease: These health conditions can make swallowing difficult, which then leads to an imbalance of the digestive system.
- Diverticular Disease: Gas, cramps, bloating and constipation can occur due to small pouches in the colon lining extruding along weaker spots in the intestinal wall.
- Constipation: This is perhaps the most well-known digestive issue. It refers to difficulty or pain while passing motion.
- Polyps: The risk of developing polyps can increase after the age of 50.
- GERD: This gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause symptoms such as heartburn, and is a common disorder in the upper gastrointestinal system.
- Weight Issues: Being overweight can also take its toll on the digestive system. Fat pushing the stomach into the chest can lead to acid reflux and heartburn.
Tips for Improving Digestive Health
While some changes that occur due to aging are beyond our control, there are numerous steps that can be taken to improve digestive health. Staying hydrated, and enjoying a daily diet prepared with fresh, healthy ingredients can be helpful. Other things to do include:
- Exercising Regularly: Even a relatively simple exercise like going on a daily walk can be helpful for your digestive health. Now that spring is here, head out for a walk in the morning sunlight for some added benefits.
- Monitor Your Medication: Doing so will help you to see what impact it has on your digestive system. If you think you are reacting adversely to a particular medication, discuss alternatives with your doctor.
- Manage Your Weight: This can be done through exercise or healthy eating.
- Get Regular Health Screenings: Catch any problems early so that you can address them before they develop into something more serious.
Taking Care of Your Digestive System
Our lifestyle, changes in the way food is processed and prepared, and aging can affect our digestive health. Still, the tips above can help with digestive issues that you may be facing and are good for your overall health as well. Another piece of general advice is to avoid processed and high-fat food as much as possible, as overloading your intake can lead to heartburn or acid reflux. A simple adjustment to your diet can help immensely with any discomfort in the digestive system.