Healthy Starts Made Simple: Health
Good Digestion After 50
By Holly St. Lifer for Healthy Starts Made Simple
We may be better at sticking with routines as we age, but our body, including our digestive system, experiences unavoidable changes that can impact how we feel on a daily basis. Here, we give you a few culprits that can lead to occasional irregularity, gas and bloating, along with strategies to help get you running smoothly again so you don’t miss a beat.
Digestive Culprit No. 1: Not exercising enough.
All of the various organs involved in the digestion process contain muscles that must contract to move food through your system. Physical activity gets your blood flowing and stimulates these contractions. Therefore, when you’re inactive, so are these muscles. This can lead to bloating, excess gas and constipation. So get moving! Just be sure to wait an hour after a big meal before engaging in any rigorous physical activity. If you exercise right after eating, the blood flows toward the heart and muscles instead of your gut.
Digestive Culprit No. 2: Skimping on fiber.
While many of us maintain the same type of diet for years, some gradually begin to eat less fiber without even realizing it. Some people, as they age, think that eating less crunchy foods will be easier on teeth and digestion, says registered dietitian Lisa Stollman. While there’s no harm in hard, crunchy foods, if you prefer to avoid them, opt for such cereals as Kellogg’s® All-Bran® Complete® Wheat Flakes or Kellogg’s Raisin Bran® with milk, eat whole grains (barley, millet and quinoa) in place of reﬁned grains, and add beans to salads. Aim for a minimum of 25 grams of dietary ﬁber daily.
Digestive Culprit No. 3: Being parched.
“When our bodies don’t have enough fluid, the colon acts as a fluid regulator by absorbing as much as it can from food in the large intestine,” says Stollman. “This leaves you with a much harder stool.” The rule of thumb: Aim to drink about eight glasses of water a day. Remember that other fluids, such as soups and stews, count, as do fruits and vegetables like melon, grapes, apricots, celery, cucumbers and eggplant.