Digestive disorders commonly appearing with age
We cannot review all possible digestive diseases here and that is not our goal. We want to talk about the common digestive disorders that set in without too much attention. However, their impact on health is not neutral and their persistence makes the bed of future more serious diseases: allergies, rheumatisms, autoimmune diseases, liver problems, mood disorders, depression… In fact: without good digestion, no salvation.
Happiness begins in the stomach (Ayurveda)
The most frequently encountered problems are:
- poor transit (chronic diarrhea or constipation)
- gastroesophageal acid reflux
- digestion too slow with a stomach that drags to empty, heaviness, bloating, drowsiness…
- irritable bowel, even painful (colic).
There are many theories on the origin of digestive disorders and many solutions are proposed: fat-free diets, carbohydrate-free diets, gluten-free, fiber-free, vegetarian diets…, plants and digestive enzymes, transit medications, research intolerances food, etc.
Correcting your eating habits and adopting a healthy diet is certainly essential. However, we believe that there is almost never a single cause or a single way to treat digestive disorders. It is therefore necessary to have a global vision of things to find the elements to modify or to bring in order to improve the situation, which is different for each person. That’s what we’re going to see.
Moreover, Ayurvedic medicine speaks ofagni (the digestive “fire”) as a global principle of digestion/assimilation, allowing us to draw vital energy from food and which must above all be preserved in advancing age to maintain health and vitality (see here how interesting).
Not fit aging with poor digestion
Digestion is the basis of our health
Digestion can be considered the central function of our body. It allows it to recharge itself with energy and various building materials for our cells. In addition, it participates in the elimination of its toxic waste.
Apart from bloating, acid reflux, transit disorders and other abdominal pain, poor digestion will lead to many health problems, in a more underhanded way. These are very often the cause of illnesses that one might think are unrelated to diet and digestion. It can be joint pain and inflammation, skin problems, hormonal malfunctions, fatigue, mood disorders, respiratory allergies, etc.
They can also promote chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in our body, two major phenomena that accelerate aging.
Digestion to assimilate nutrients is fundamental!
Do you want to keep your muscles, beautiful skin, stay in shape? Without good assimilation, this will be almost impossible. If digestive assimilation is bad, the lack of essential nutrients will disrupt many body functions: production of hormones, tissues (muscles, skin, hair, bones…), mood balance, energy production, immune defences, etc….
You can swallow all the food supplements in the world, nothing will improve. Yet, how many people take these supplements without worrying whether their digestive tract will actually absorb them?
A classic example is that of people poorly assimilating proteins (and therefore amino acids) which are the main building materials of our body. Their muscles and their supporting tissues have trouble regenerating, they are in almost permanent fatigue. Likewise, their body has trouble making certain hormones and/or neurotransmitters. for brain function. Their mood is unstable, their mind less lively and their memory failing. These people sometimes try to eat organic pasture-fed meats, wild-caught fish, expensive protein powders… but it doesn’t work.
In fact, these quality foods are not or poorly absorbed and their nutrients are flushed down the toilet. The day when their digestion will be improved, their life will change because everything will be better.
Let’s say, to simplify, that to assimilate well, 3 things are essential for your body:
- Good secretion of gastric acid, various digestive juices and enzymes allowing it to reduce food into small particles that can be absorbed by the digestive tract
- a digestive mucosa (wall) in good condition which lets the good nutrients into the bloodstream but not too permeableso as not to let unwanted elements enter our body
- a balanced intestinal flora (those trillions of bacteria that inhabit our digestive tract). It also participates in the digestion of food and even in the production of certain vitamins. When groups of bacteria or yeasts proliferate more than others, toxins can be produced and inflame our digestive mucosa, even making it too porous and too permeable.
It will also require effective chewing, a certain calm during the meal, a general state of fitness sufficient to ensure digestive movement (peristalsis). All this is part of a whole that a healthy lifestyle can provide.
Digest to eliminate
Similarly, health concerns will arise if the body clogged with toxins due to poor digestive elimination. The colon is one of the main organs of elimination (the emunctories). The problems can come from too slow a transit, an overdeveloped putrefaction flora, laziness of the liver, reabsorption of metabolic waste into the bloodstream, etc. Everything is linked.
The common but poorly understood causes of your digestive disorders
It should be understood that these causes are rarely isolated but multiple and intricate, often generating veritable vicious circles that will have to be broken.
Lack of acidity in the stomach
Hydrochloric acid production decreases with age not to mention the atrophy of the gastric mucosa which would affect almost a third of people over 60 years old. Unrecognized, thehypochlorhydria makes digestion slow and painful, unbalances the digestive flora and ends up damaging the intestinal mucosa. In particular, it promotes esophageal reflux while we most often incriminate an excess of acid (which we generally treat wrongly with antacids). Excess acidity only concerns 10% of cases. So you have to know how to tell the difference.
The causes of gastric hypochlorhydria are varied:
- the stress chronic decreases acid secretion
- Lack of zinc, iodine, vitamins A and B6
- The iHelicobacter pylori infectionvery frequented
- Eating little or no animal protein also promotes the lack of hydrochloric acid.
- There are other causes such as the use of medication antacids and certain rarer diseases such as autoimmune gastritis.
Lack of digestive enzymes
These enzymes break down macronutrients into smaller particles: complex carbohydrates into simple sugars, proteins into small peptides and amino acids, complex fats into fatty acids, which can then cross the intestinal mucosa. They are contained in our digestive secretions: saliva, pancreatic juice, bile, intestinal secretions…
An ill-adapted diet, overcooked, overly refined, overly industrial…, as well as aging can reduce this secretion of enzymes (see here how these enzymes drop with age).
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (Sibo)
It is an untimely proliferation of bacteria in our small intestine, in particular in its upper part, near the stomach (SIBO for English speakers: Small Instestine Bacterial Overgrowth). The number of bacteria can be multiplied by 100,000 and bacteria from the colon can be found abnormally there (World Journal of gastroenterology 2010).
Nutrient assimilation (which takes place mainly at this level) is then disturbed, inflammation of the intestinal wall and/or intestinal microporosity can set in.
This excess of flora will occur especially in case of lack of acidity in the stomach. In this case, digestion is slowed down, pancreatic digestive juices and bile are secreted in too small quantities. Badly digested carbohydrates will feed the bacteria in the small intestine where they will then multiply and produce large fermentations and gases.
The pressure of the fermentations will hinder the emptying of the stomach and favor a reflux of its contents upwards: towards the esophagus (with burns of course). If one then treats with antacid drugs, one aggravates the process.
Note that there are other causes for this bacterial proliferation such as excess sugar and foods rich in starch: cereals, potatoes, soy… (see also how seeds and cereals can also disturb our digestion), diabetes, chronic constipation (and any slowing of the transit of the small intestine or its partial obstruction)…
Often accompanied by poor sleep, it can be one of the biggest disruptors of our digestion, especially if it is prolonged. It can accelerate or block intestinal transit, upset a stomach, block excretion of bile by the liver, emptying of the stomach, etc. In general, stress increases the activity of the sympathetic system which reduces digestive activity in generalfor the benefit of the functions of awakening and preparation for combat (acceleration of the heart rate, blood circulation, breathing, etc.).
We must therefore take stress very seriously and not tell ourselves that digestion is only a mechanical phenomenon.
Two glands in particular may play a role here: the thyroid and the adrenal. It may be useful to do analyzes with a doctor if you suspect a problem on this side.
In particular, it is very common to find a collapsed blood cortisol in people suffering from these digestive disorders, especially after a long period of intense stress when the adrenal glands are exhausted.
Our digestion is indeed the central pillar of our health because even a good diet will be ineffective if we absorb it badly. So we are not exactly what we eat but we are what we digest !
The quality of our advancing age depends as much on our digestion as on our diet.
With age, our digestive abilities tend to weaken. Also, we must pay particular attention to our digestion and make sure to keep it as efficient as possible. This will be the basis for maintaining optimal and lasting health.
Now see how to improve your digestion as naturally as possible.
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