In old age, it is particularly important to pay attention to intestinal health. Since your largest internal organ is also subject to an aging process, unpleasant complaints such as flatulence, constipation, and diarrhea can become noticeable.

We explore exactly why digestive disorders occur and what changes in everyday life can help. In addition, we have a real secret tip to bring your intestinal flora back up to speed.

Intestinal Health in Old Age: Your Digestive Tract Never Sleeps

“Sleepless in the gut” – if there were a movie about your largest internal organ, the title would probably be this. That’s quite apt because your digestive system is constantly working for you. The intestines help break down food, produce vitamins and send important messages to the immune system. In short, without your 6-meter-long wonder, nothing in your body would work.

As we age, however, it’s hard to shake off the suspicion that the intestine is increasingly in sleep mode. The food pulp winds its way through the digestive tract only sluggishly. The result – constipation.

This uncomfortable symptom is most common in older people. But a creeping bowel is not the only problem with increasing age. Flatulence, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can also increase. But why in the first place?

Your Intestine Ages Too

Let’s take a closer look at the population of adults. Here, nearly one in three suffers from occasional or chronic constipation. Tending to the toilet is not only uncomfortable to the point of pain but can also put a damper on many beloved activities.

The same goes for diarrhea, abdominal pain, and other ailments related to the gastrointestinal system. Noticeably, these problems increase with age, and there’s a particular reason for that.

Your body is aging not only from the outside but also from the inside. Thus, the aging process does not stop at your intestines. The unpleasant truth is that the muscles in your colon break down. But these are precisely the muscles that are essential for transporting the food pulp. We have already found the reason why constipation is more common in old age.

But that’s not all, the intestinal flora also alters in many older people. You need to know that the valuable microbiome in your gut is made up of “good” and “bad” bacteria. Don’t worry, the bad ones can’t do much as long as the good ones have the upper hand. As we age, the delicate balance can be tilted. Good bacteria withdraw, and the bad ones, however, gain increasing power. Unfortunately, they are also associated with diarrhea, flatulence, and constipation.

Hereditary Predispositions Influence Intestinal Well-being

So, aging processes cause many problems. However, it would be too easy to blame these processes alone. Experts suspect that intestinal complaints in old age occur primarily as a result of a combination of different factors.

For a long time, for instance, it was unclear what triggers one of the most common diseases of the digestive system, irritable bowel syndrome. Scientists have now found evidence that patients with nervous bowel seem to have altered pain receptors in the intestines. Nervous bowel-related disorders can be traced to genetic causes.

In addition, intestinal infections or disturbances in the intestinal flora can affect intestinal health in old age. Then the intestine can react highly sensitively to certain influencing factors. Unfamiliar food, for example, can trigger an alarm in the intestine.

Gastrointestinal Disorders in Old Age: an Overview of the Causes

Intestinal problems have many faces and just as many causes. Natural changes play an important role. Factors that can be blamed for your digestive disorders in old age include the following:

  • Decreasing stomach acid production, resulting in more difficult digestion
  • Calcified blood vessels that do not supply the intestines adequately
  • Lack of mobility and therefore movement
  • Altered intestinal flora
  • Degradation of large intestine muscles
  • Longer digestion process, in which more water is extracted

Who Is Who in Digestive Problems?

What Is Constipation?

If you have less than three bowel motions a week, it indicates constipation. Constipation is characterized by infrequent bowel movements of a hard nature. This often involves heavy and sometimes painful straining.

What Is Diarrhea?

If your stool is mushy to liquid and you have to pass it at least three times a day, this indicates that you have diarrhea.

What Is Flatulence?

When you have gas (flatulence), you have too much air in your stomach that escapes through your intestines. Typical accompanying symptoms are bloating and bowel sounds.

Intestinal Health in Old Age: Medications Set the Vicious Circle in Motion

Certain medications can cause constipation. These include painkillers such as opiates and some antidepressants. Neuroleptics and Antihypertensives that are used to treat high blood pressure can also have a constipating effect.

Simultaneously, medications that are supposed to provide relief can really “fuel” the discomfort. For instance, let’s take constipation. Do you know about long toilet sessions? Then the thought of taking medication for it has probably crossed your mind. However, classic laxatives (laxatives) have a decisive disadvantage. If they are taken in excessive doses over a long period of time, they can lead to a drop in the body’s potassium level – an ideal breeding ground for constipation. This sets a vicious circle in motion. To get rid of agonizing constipation, you are now taking even more laxatives, which again affect the potassium concentration.

For this reason, it is imperative that you always follow your doctor’s instructions when taking laxatives. Better yet, follow our tips for better bowel health as you age.

Older man kissing his wife on the cheek on the beach.

Source: Unsplash

5 Tips for Better Gut Health in Old Age

There’s a lot you can do to boost your gut health as you age. We have compiled the most important tips for you.

Tip 1: Hydrate Sufficiently

Older people, in particular, find it difficult to drink regularly. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, the feeling of thirst often decreases with age. Secondly, people cut back on fluids in order to reduce the negative side effects of bladder weakness.

However, regular fluid intake is important, even for your bowels. If you provide it with sufficient water, it does not have to extract the liquid from the food pulp. The German Society for Nutrition advises drinking at least 1.5 liters of fluid daily.

Tip 2: Eat Healthily

A healthy diet can prevent disease and benefit gut health. Nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables are just as important as fiber. These are virtually indigestible food components. They are found primarily in plant foods such as legumes, fruits, and grains.

Make sure you feed the good intestinal bacteria with sufficient fiber. This will prevent them from going hungry and attacking the intestinal mucosa.

Tip 3: Consume Protein and Calcium

As you age, you’ll lose more muscle mass, so be sure to include enough protein and calcium in your diet. This works especially well with dairy products.

By the way: Both substances are essential for a healthy intestinal flora – you’ve killed two flies with one hit.

Tip 4: Stay Fit With Exercise

I hear you. As you age, a little nap after dinner is just so much more tempting than exercise. Even though it’s hard to change routines, try taking a digestive walk.

The gentle movement will provide mobility in your intestines. It will give the food mush a good kneading, which will relieve your digestive system.

Tip 5: Make Sure You Relax

Did you know that your brain is connected to your intestines? No joke, through the so-called Vagus nerve, the two can make contact with each other.

I have another surprise for you. The gut is littered with numerous neurons and is even capable of affecting your mood. So you would be well advised to schedule regular relaxation times.

Secret Tip: Strengthen Your Intestinal Flora

I’ve already touched on the subject of gut flora briefly and told you that your microbiome changes as you age. This, and the importance of a healthy diet, has been proven in recent research. Irish researchers took a close look at people aged 64-102.

Result: Those participants in the study who live in a nursing facility have poorer gut health compared to people who live in their homes. The scientists attribute this to unfavorable dietary habits.

In short, too much fat, sugar, and meat. The preference for disadvantageous foods also apparently influences the composition of the bacteria in the intestine. It was found that there was less species diversity in the intestinal flora of nursing home residents.

The question arises as, why many bacterial species in the intestine are easier to assess. Researchers have an answer to this as well. They suspect that a variety of bacterial strains helps to break down and absorb food more optimally. What do we learn from this? Intestinal care is particularly important in old age.

Arktis Biopharma – the Basic Set for Your Intestine

Have you resolved to give your intestines a helping hand in the future and to do something for the bacteria in your digestive tract? We at Arktis Biopharma would like to help you with our Probiotics Basic Set.

It consists of the following components: Arktis Select , Arktis Grow, Arktis Herbal

With the Basic Set, you can treat your intestine for 3 months with good bacteria and selected herbal extracts.

The goal: to strengthen the foundation of your digestive tract and thus boost intestinal health as you age.

We’ve also added Vitamin D to our product line. As you know, the substance becomes more and more important as you age, since your skin isn’t as capable of synthesizing Vitamin D. So, what are you waiting for? We’re now dedicating ourselves to your gut health as you age!

Sources

  1. https://www.deutsche-seniorenliga.de/themen-initiativen/gesundheit-fitness/24-chronische-verstopfung.html
  2. https://www.internisten-im-netz.de/aktuelle-meldungen/aktuell/reizdarm-kann-erblich-sein/
  3. https://www.uni-heidelberg.de/presse/news08/pm281204-3nerv/
  4. https://www.welt.de/gesundheit/article108302570/Essen-im-Altenheim-foerdert-Entzuendungskrankheiten.html
Jennifer Ann Steinort

Autorin Jennifer Ann Steinort

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