Nutrition and Wellness

The Impact of Age on the Digestive System

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As you grow older, individuals are more likely to suffer from indigestion, constipation and other ailments of the digestive system, mainly due to the fact that age can indeed affect the structures and their function. Although a natural process, several issues and conditions may develop as a result.

Sacramento gastroenterologist Roger Mendis, M.D., of Sutter Medical Foundation quoted this exact theory “Aging doesn’t necessarily mean you will start to have GI problems, but it definitely increases the odds that you might. Everything changes as our body ages, and some of those changes do impact your GI tract.” Because of this, the health of an individual’s digestive system is essential, and learning to identify these specific complications can be the first step for taking action.

Below are some of the reasons that problems with digestion might begin after the age of 60, even in healthy adults.

  1. Sluggish Metabolism
    A slower metabolism can trigger constipation. The work of the colon involves the coordinated contraction of smooth muscle in the gut. Activity level, diet, water intake and metabolism all play a role in digestive health. As we age, our metabolism may slow, as does our activity level, resulting in harder, drier stools that are more difficult to pass. Drinking more water, modest activity (walking) and incorporating fiber into the diet may be beneficial in maintaining healthy bowel habits.
  2. Susceptibility to Diverticulosis
    Almost half of older adults will have this condition, in which small pouches develop in the lining of the colon. Most adults remain symptom free, but these diverticula pouches can also cause constipation and discomfort. If the pouches become inflamed (diverticulitis), they can cause pain, fever and abdominal tenderness. Bleeding may occur in a minority of individuals.
  3. Seemingly Unrelated Conditions
    Health problems like diabetes or thyroid conditions can impact your metabolism and your digestive system, causing constipation or diarrhea. Diabetes may cause slowing of the stomach emptying or “gastroparesis.”
  4. Medications
    As we age, we are more likely to take medications for other conditions, such as heart disease or arthritis. Calcium channel blockers, often prescribed for heart conditions, can cause constipation. Pain relievers, particularly narcotic pain relievers, are well known to cause constipation. And aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) pain relievers, sold over-the-counter, can upset the stomach and cause GI bleeding.
  5. Being Overweight
    As your metabolism slows, it takes more effort to keep the pounds off. Increased weight can lead to increased acid reflux and heart burn, as abdominal fat pushes the stomach into the chest.
  6. Inactivity
    Painful arthritis can cause us to become more sedentary as we age, and that too can slow digestion. Your digestive system works best when you are active and mobile. If aging means you spend more time sitting and less time moving, your GI tract may become sluggish.
  7. Increased Sensitivity
    Aging may impact your “iron stomach.” While Dr. Mendis says it hard to pinpoint exactly why, older adults commonly find they can no longer tolerate the spicy foods, alcohol or coffee in the quantities they used to love. Complaints of being more “gassy,” more apt to have heartburn or dyspepsia are common, but generally not serious issues.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.mylifestages.org

While age can alter several functions of the body, most commonly slowing down the digestive system, not many individuals understand the impact aging can have on their overall health if they do not follow specific guidelines to maintain their function. When it comes to digestive health, it’s essential to be aware of the natural changes which affect the digestive system.

For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900

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The information herein on "The Impact of Age on the Digestive System" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own health care decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Our information scope is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, sensitive health issues, functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*

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