Active Aging Presented by Public Health Seattle-King County
As we are all acutely aware, the signs of aging grow more powerful and prominent with every passing year.
Although this process isn’t inherently a bad thing, unfortunately, it can also cause digestional issues. For example, constipation is one of the most common—and potentially painful—bowel problems older adults face. However, although these issues may be uncomfortable and accompanied by digestive problems like bloating, gas, or upset stomachs, these symptoms are manageable and easily remedied.
According to American Family Physician, there are two types of constipation—primary (functional) and secondary constipation. The first bowel restriction type is split into three subcategories that will usually overlap. These categories are normal transit constipation, slow transit constipation, and defecation disorders.
- Normal transit is the most common form of constipation—a regular bowel movement frequency but with more difficulty or less-than-usual feces composition.
- Slow transit constipation occurs when the time elapsed between stools is longer than the one- to three-day average.
- Disorders of defecation usually take place among the older population. They are when the rectum muscles can no longer relax or move enough to clear out the bowel.
Luckily, specific remedies for each scenario may give you relief and relaxation.
Your bowel movements are a direct reflection of the care you are taking of your body. Specifically, there are certain things that you could be adding or subtracting to your daily diet to ensure a healthy gut.
If it seems like water is the answer for most minor health-related ailments, that’s because it is! Although several external things can cause constipation and diarrhea, drinking between 48-64 ounces of water each day can loosen up and soften your stool, making it much easier to use the restroom!
Fiber is huge in saving your digestive tract from a virus or flu and maintaining healthy and regular bowel movements. You can find fiber in most vegetables, oats, and more. Fiber comes in two categories: soluble and insoluble.
- Insoluble refers to ingredients like beans, rice, grains, broccoli, and cabbage that clear your system and prevent constipation.
- Soluble has the opposite effect and refers to foods that can (when consumed in high quantities) help stop diarrhea.
Fibers include apples, berries, beans, seeds, and nuts—all excellent snacking foods—potentially making your digestive needs solution as simple as packing a bag of almonds into your purse!
If you’ve ever made a run to your local coffee shop in hopes of waking yourself up for the day to come, you might be glad to find out that caffeine can also kick-start your bowels into gear. So, even if you only meant to increase your cognitive work-day energy, having a delicious coffee made just to your liking can also ensure that your gut works and your mind throughout the day!
Fruits are among the more effective remedies for digestion issues due to their high fiber concentration, water, and antioxidants. Not only will they ease your bowel, but you’re also likely to enjoy every bite. For example, throughout history, people have used prunes as a natural laxative to ease constipation because they include a poorly digested sugar alcohol called sorbitol. Sorbitol is so difficult to digest that it rushes water into your system, which aids in flushing out other substances in your system. Apples are also fantastic for aiding your digestion. They have a surplus of fiber—specifically, a soluble fiber called pectin.
There are plenty of ways to stay on top of your gut health. Try one of these options to potentially feel exponentially better!
Active Aging is presented by Public Health- Seattle & King County. Public Health- Seattle & King County recognizes the important and untold stories of innovation, service, and sacrifice by the Black community and supports efforts to improve equity and achieve social justice. We want everyone to get health insurance and access health care. Visit www.kingcounty.gov/health for health insurance, flu and COVID-19 testing locations.