The gut is a vital part of the body no matter what age you are, but it needs a little more TLC at certain stages of life. The body begins to deteriorate as we age, and the gut is no exception. Digestive issues are pretty common in all stages of life but often affect us more as we age.
Due to advances in the medical field and lifestyle changes, life expectancy is much longer than it used to be. This makes it all the more important to look after our guts throughout our lives! In this article, we will discuss what happens to the gut as we age and what we can do to help it function better! Keep reading to learn more about how the gut and the ageing process are linked.
The Gut Microbiome and Ageing: What Happens to Our Gut Bacteria Over Time?
The gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of microorganisms of thousands of different species. These microorganisms can also be called microbiota or microbes, meaning bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.1
These trillions of good and bad bacteria help your digestive tract break down food and turn nutrients into things your body can use. In a healthy person, these microorganisms co-exist peacefully. Issues arise when the balance between good and bad bacteria is skewed.1
Although everybody has a gut microbiome, the makeup is unique to each individual. Our DNA first determines the makeup of the microorganisms within the gut microbiome, hence why some people are genetically predisposed to certain gut issues. Then, environment, diet, lifestyle, age, disease and illness can all impact the gut microbiome over time.1
Digestive Health Concerns in Ageing: How Do They Impact the Gut?
For proper digestion to take place, gastric, pancreatic and other digestive system secretions are crucial. As we age, the body produces fewer vital secretions, making it more difficult to digest food. A poor diet, an unhealthy gut microbiome and poor dentition can add to the issues, reducing nutrient absorption.2
These issues in the gut can lead to an ineffective immune system and for toxins, pathogens and food particles to leak out into the bloodstream, known as leaky gut. This causes numerous local and systemic issues across the body, including gas, bloating, abdominal discomfort, fatigue, headaches, low energy levels and brain fog.2
A study into the links between gut health and ageing showed that older people had more bacteria from the families Enterococcaecae, Lactobacillaceae, Enterobacteriaceae and genus Bacteroides. All of these families of bacteria can cause disease in humans, making older people more at risk.3
An unhealthy gut microbiome has been linked to many ageing-associated illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and an increased risk of having a stroke; if your gut isn’t ageing well, you are at a higher risk of death of all causes.3
What you consume throughout your life can impact how well your gut ages with you. Adequate nutrition is important for the body to function well. If your diet is consistently poor, it can cause your gut to age more quickly.3
Maintaining Digestive Function with Age: Tips for a Healthy Gut
Ensuring you gain adequate nutrition through your diet is crucial to maintaining good health as you age.4 Supplementation can help you to achieve better gut health on top of a nutritious diet.
A varied diet will help you to achieve good gut health; the six essential nutrients are fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals and water.5 Ensuring your diet has a good range of these nutrients will have you feeling fighting fit as you age!
Within your diet, including a good dose of fibre will benefit your gut and keep your bowel movements regular. Fibre can be found in wholemeal bread, many breakfast cereals, brown pasta, rice, fruits and veggies, peas and beans or nuts and seeds, to name a few.6
If you like fermented foods or drinks, they are a great addition to your diet as they are a fantastic source of probiotics. Adding sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, kefir, greek yoghurt, kombucha, tempeh, miso or fermented cheese into your diet will add new species of good bacteria into the gut, helping to achieve the diversity necessary for good gut health.7
At The Gut Co, we created a range of probiotic supplements to help you easily add an extra dose of nutrition to your life, designed to go alongside a healthy, balanced diet.
Our supplement Immune Boost contains over 10 strains of powerful probiotics, an antioxidant vitamin blend, zinc, turmeric extract, acerola cherry extract, echinacea extract and inulin. Read about the benefits of the ingredients by clicking the link above!
Hydration is key to ensuring proper digestion; as one of the essential nutrients needed for survival, it is not to be missed. The NHS recommends 6-8 cups of water per day, but fluid doesn’t have to be consumed in cups of water solely. Check out our article 10 Most Hydrating Food and Drink to learn more about other fluid options available to you!
It’s important to remember that in order to look after your gut as you age, you must keep an eye on nutrition levels, including hydration. If you have any concerns about your general or gut health as you age, we encourage you to contact your medical provider to rule out anything more sinister.