Digestion Wellness Tips For Seniors

Guest Contributor Victoria Tan on Memory Cafe Directory

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Submitted by Guest Contributor:
Victoria Tan, Marketing Assistant
Discovery Village At Sarasota Bay
Bradenton, Florida

As we age, we can find ourselves experiencing some digestion issues that may not have been present before. This can range from indigestion and bloating to heartburn and constipation. In more serious cases, gastrointestinal problems can also be present.

The good news is that there are several tips you can follow to achieve optimum digestion wellness.

Practice Good Dental Hygiene

It is important for solid foods to be chewed adequately before swallowing. If food has not been chewed sufficiently, this can result in indigestion.

In fact, one reason more older people suffer from indigestion is because of their inability to chew well. To this end, it is always wise to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth and/or cleaning your dentures regularly, at least twice a day and after every meal if possible.

Besides brushing and flossing daily, don’t forget to schedule your dental appointments twice annually!

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is important when it comes to fighting constipation. When the body is dehydrated, this can lead to constipation. With sufficient water in your system, the material that passes through your digestive system is softened, making it easier for food to pass through your digestive tract.

Keep in mind that drinking water and pulpy juices are the best way to stay hydrated. Drinking too many beverages with caffeine, such as tea and coffee, can have the opposite effect.

Keep Physically Active

Don’t let age be an excuse for becoming sedentary. Although you may have mobility limitations and joint conditions you wouldn’t have experienced when you were younger, there are plenty of exercises you can do that are appropriate for your abilities. This can include chair yoga, water aerobics, or simply brisk walking.

Not only does physical exercise help to keep you at a healthy weight and promote digestive health, it can also keep your cardiovascular health in tiptop condition.

Consume Probiotics

Probiotics are healthy bacteria found in your gut, and they aid your digestive health in fighting infections and viruses while metabolizing the food you digest. They can be found in food products such as yogurt, kombucha, miso, kimchi, and sourdough bread.

Research has shown that probiotics are essential for a healthy digestive system, helping to prevent gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, inflammation, and allergies. They have also been known to help with irritable bowel syndrome, which causes cramping, bloating, and abdominal pain. In addition, they are known to strengthen and boost the immune system.

Cut Down on the Sugar

Processed food contains ‘hidden’ sugar and usually ranges high on calories while providing very minimal nutrients. As a result, they tend not to be very filling and will only quell your hunger for a very short time and may cause you to eat more portions than usual to compensate for that lack of satisfaction.

Before adding anything to your cart, read the label to check for these ‘hidden’ sugars. They are usually found in prepackaged foods and premade beverages such as pastries, cakes, cookies, sports drinks, and peanut butter.

Excess sugar in our diet can cause water to be drawn into the large intestine and prevent it from being absorbed sufficiently. This can cause bloating and a heavy feeling in your guts. In the long-term, this can be detrimental and result in weight gain, especially when eating sugar has become an addiction.

In addition, this can cause health-related concerns and issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, fatty liver disease, heart disease, and strokes in the long term, which you will be more at risk of having at a later age.

Understanding Your Food Allergies

In most cases, foods higher in fat, such as fast food, fried food, potato chips, and processed food, can cause heartburn and acid reflux. In addition, food allergies are often the biggest culprits causing our digestive system to experience negative reactions. Therefore, it is important to understand the types of foods you are allergic to and do your best to avoid them.

Unfortunately, many people are unknowingly allergic to different kinds of food such as dairy products, gluten, and shellfish like shrimps, crabs, and crayfishes. This occurs when the immune system classifies certain foods as foreign or harmful, releasing immunoglobulin, a type of antibody that causes histamine to be released.

While this will vary for many people, paying attention to how your body feels after consuming certain food products is crucial. You can find out if you may have food allergies by trying an elimination diet, where you eschew certain types of food that many people are known to be allergic to from your daily meals. Then, take the time to observe if you are experiencing common symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting. You can also consult your physician to get tested for food sensitivities and allergies that you should avoid.

Watch Your Portions

Keeping an eye on the nutritional balance and portion sizes of your diet is crucial, especially as you age. It is often the case that we are no longer as physically active as we are in our golden years when compared to our younger years. Your portion sizes will have to be adjusted based on that.

If you end up overeating, you can overtax your digestive system and cause heartburn. It is also important to watch your fatty food intake and keep it to a minimum in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Load Up on Fiber

If you struggle with constipation, the best way of combating it is to load up on foods that are high in fiber. This includes fruits and vegetables as well as nuts and seeds. These foods help to “lubricate” your digestive system, allowing food to pass through more easily.

As a bonus, foods that are high in fiber tend to be low on fat, enabling you to feel fuller when you consume them. This can help in maintaining a healthy weight and preventing overeating.

Instead, it would be beneficial to opt for equally filling and nutritious snacks, such as fresh fruits, vegetable dips, wholemeal granola bars, and oatmeals. These types of food will benefit your digestive health, providing you with more fibers your body requires.

While you do not have to stay away from them completely, you can still make them your occasional, guilty pleasure treat to reward yourself for working hard to keep up with your exercise frequently.

Take Charge of Meal Planning and Preparation

It can be the case that meal planning and preparation have become more of a struggle for you or your loved one, particularly if you require assistance with daily living activities or are living with a memory-related condition.

When feeding is a task or you require certain accommodations to do it, such as arm rests, you may require professional help to improve your quality of life. When that’s the case, making the move to a residential memory care community is an option worth considering.

With an in-house culinary team to take charge of nutritional planning, diet balancing and meal preparation, you will never have to worry that you are not getting your needs met. People with dietary restrictions or preferences can also enjoy mealtimes fuss-free and without worries, allowing you to achieve optimal digestive health.

Victoria Tan

Victoria is the Marketing Assistant for Discovery Village At Sarasota Bay in Bradenton, Florida.


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