Does Gut Health Change with Age?
When you have digestive issues like constipation or bloating, it may be due to poor gut health. Your gut health is essential for keeping your entire body in balance by promoting proper digestion and nutrient absorption. When your gut health suffers, it can throw your entire system off track.
You may think that gut health is as simple as eating healthier foods, but there are other factors that can impact your digestive system. One of those factors is aging. You may notice an increase in digestive symptoms as you get older, but why does this happen? Here is how getting older affects your gut health.
Your digestive system relies on a variety of stomach acids to function properly. These acids are produced naturally by a hormone called gastrin. As you age, your stomach can create less gastrin and in turn, less stomach acid.
This can impact your gut health in a number of ways and produce symptoms like:
- Bad breath
- Abdominal pain
While insufficient stomach acid can lead to problems, having too much stomach acid can do just as much harm. This is why it is important to seek help from a professional who can help you find the perfect balance.
With a series of dietary changes, medications, and supplements, you can get your stomach to produce the right amount of acid for healthy digestion.
Another way that aging can impact your gut health is through antibiotic use. Many people are unaware of how consistent antibiotic use can do damage to their digestive system and its functionality.
Older people have had more exposure to antibiotics over time, which can lead to significant gut health concerns. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Inflammation throughout the digestive tract
- Poor absorption of vitamins and minerals
- Cramping and abdominal pain
- Bloating and slow digestion
- Diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome
How do antibiotics affect your digestive system? There is a link between antibiotics and gut health through their impact on microbial activity.
Your digestive system relies on a robust population of healthy bacteria to operate smoothly. When you take antibiotics frequently or remain on a strong antibiotic for a prolonged period of time, it can kill off these healthy bacteria and have a major impact on your overall gut health.
It is a likely assumption that most older people have had many more courses of antibiotics than younger people. This regular or consistent use of antibiotics can have a lasting impact on the digestive system. To rebuild gut health, older adults may need probiotics that restore healthy bacteria within the gut.
Less Diverse Gut Bacteria
Age is also thought to impact gut health through a decrease in the variety of bacteria throughout the digestive system. Older adults tend to have a less diverse bacterial population within the gut.
This can hinder the way your digestive tract operates and lead to chronic constipation, bloating, nausea, urinary tract infections, and indigestion. It is unclear why older people have this lack of diversity in their gut bacteria, and research is still ongoing to determine the potential relationships between aging and bacterial diversity.
Given the intimate involvement of the gut microbiome in proper functioning of the host-immune system, it stands to reason that if the diversity of the gut microbiome is affected by aging, so is the immune system.
A loss of the power of the immune system correlates with increased incidence and severity of diseases in older populations, including gut-related diseases such as IBD, IBS, as well as a host of metabolic disorders. Gut microbiome imbalances, favoring an increase in harmful bacteria and a depletion of beneficial bacteria, and inflammation are two big drivers of this drop in immune fitness as we age.
Are you struggling with poor gut health or digestive issues? EverVital Nutrition can help you get your gut health back on track and resolve common digestive issues like constipation, bloating, and indigestion by diagnosing the exact cause of your symptoms.
That’s right, in a few short weeks, you could be on the road to better gut health, decreased inflammation, and a graceful glide into your future years. Contact us online or by email to learn more.