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Digestive Care—For Seniors

Digestive care is a top priority for seniors because the aging process affects the digestive tract the same way it does the external (visible) body. In this phase of life, healthy digestion requires extra attention and awareness. Fortunately, select nutrients such as probiotics and healthy lifestyle choices help regenerate the digestive system and replenish stores of beneficial bacteria that decline as we age. Digestion needn’t slow down or “stall” with the proper care.

A Change in Bacterial Balance
Your gut is home to a unique balance of beneficial bacteria—a balance unique to you and to your age. As infants, our digestive system is largely populated with Bifidobacteria, a specific beneficial bacteria type. As we grow into adolescence and adulthood, our balance changes to a blend of primarily Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria types, with more Bifido than Lacto.

  1. Bifidobacteria live in the large intestine (colon). Because of their location, these beneficial bacteria are responsible for maintaining healthy bowel movements by supporting an optimal pH balance in the colon.‡ Bifidobacteria levels decline with age, a fact that plays a big part in seniors’ bowel and digestive issues.Bifidobacteria declines with age chart
  2. Lactobacilli are found primarily in the small intestine where they support nutrient absorption and help protect the small intestinal lining from harmful pathogens and bacteria.

Many seniors do not realize that their internal balance of bacteria is declining and that this decline is creating a digestive care challenge. Symptoms of a decline in Bifidobacteria levels include:

  • Hard, dry stools, difficulty eliminating, constipation
  • Loose stools, diarrhea
  • Excess flatulence, gas, and bloating
  • Slow digestive transit time (waste lingers in the lower digestive tract)

Digestive care starts with diet and optimal nutrition. For seniors, a diet high in natural fiber in the form of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is especially important, as well as a diet that incorporates minerals, digestive care probiotics blended especially for seniors, and probiotic foods. Probiotic foods include yogurt and a fermented drink called kefir, sauerkraut, and fermented vegetables such as kimchee.

Choosing a Digestive Care Probiotic for Senior

An optimal senior digestive care probiotic contains a higher balance of Bifidobacteria to help replenish these levels that decline with age.

Not all probiotic types stick around in the digestive tract, and certain Bifidobacteria types can be especially transient. For this reason, it is recommended that seniors incorporate a probiotic into their daily supplement routine as they would a multi-vitamin. Taking probiotics every day helps insure that a healthy bacterial balance is maintained over time, helping to relieve digestive issues such as occasional constipation, diarrhea, or irritable bowel.‡

Keep these key points in mind when choosing a digestive care probiotic supplement for those over 50:

  • Contains a 3:2 ratio of Bifidobacteria to Lactobacilli probiotics. This ratio mimics the ideal natural bacteria balance in the adult intestines.
  • High potency at 30 billion probiotic cells per capsule to better support the trillions of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  • Enteric-coated vegetable capsules that provide a delayed release action, delivering probiotics past harmful stomach acids and into the intestines.
  • No added artificial ingredients, flavors, colors, or preservatives which can aggravate existing digestive issues.
  • Packaged to last. Look for colored glass bottles that better protect the probiotic cells from damaging light and moisture and a guarantee of potency through the expiration date (not just at time of manufacture).

Added Immunity Benefit! Over 70% of the body’s immune cells originate in the intestinal lining, also the home of your beneficial bacteria stores. It’s critical that the intestinal lining remain healthy, intact, and populated with high levels of beneficial bacteria for immune and digestive health to function well. By supporting a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria with probiotics, you are also supporting your healthy immune system.‡

Digestive Care Tips for Seniors

  1. Pay attention to food combinations. Fruit is best eaten alone and fatty foods can be difficult to digest in the late evening. Eliminate problem foods such as trans fats and preservative-laden processed foods from the diet whenever possible.
  2. Develop a set supplement routine. Beneficial supplements for seniors include calcium and vitamin D3 for bone density support, minerals, a multi-vitamin complex, fish oil for brain, heart, and joint health, and digestive health supplements such probiotics plus digestive enzymes to help you get the most nutrition out of the foods you are eating.
  3. Find your ideal weight and maintain it. Steady weight gain or fluctuations in weight can be tough on the digestive system. Weight gain usually goes hand-in-hand with added calories, especially those in sugary and processed foods. These foods trigger weight gain around the abdomen and trunk regions through a glucose/insulin reaction that can be a warning sign for diabetes.
  4. Tackle leaky gut syndrome. This is caused by stress, poor diet, and poor digestion, all of which break down the mucosal lining of the intestines and cause large particles to leak into the bloodstream. This leakage sets up chronic, silent inflammation, a major risk factor for heart health issues, blood sugar imbalances, food allergies, IBS, joint issues, skin concerns, and even fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.

The leaky gut/inflammation cycle can be broken by:

  • Managing stress
  • Chewing food thoroughly
  • Taking digestive enzymes with HCl at mealtimes
  • Boosting intake of fish oil, probiotics, and restorative amino acids such as L-glutamine
  • Cleansing the gut and body of parasites and candida
  • Flushing out toxins with a high fiber diet and twice yearly herbal cleanses