Why should one worry about age? The phenomenon of ageing is a natural process and doing it gracefully is the best gift we can give ourselves. Of course, with age we cannot be as active as we once were or cannot play the sports that we played in our younger days. However, we are wiser and can be a source of inspiration for the younger generation.
How then, can we ensure that ageing does not become a cause for worry but can be really enjoyed. Health is an important determining factor in the journey of healthy ageing. Maintaining good health by leading a healthy lifestyle and eating a well-balanced diet are simple practical ways of preventing infections and reducing the need for antibiotics and other medication.
As we age, our intestines age too and they need extra care. Most often elderly suffer from constipation, diarrhea and other digestive problems. This has a lot to do with the fact that they are unable to chew food properly, reduce their physical activity and worry a lot. Constipation can result in several problems because when the intestine moves slowly, the undigested food remains there for a longer period of time. This increases the chances of toxins being absorbed by the body resulting in gas formation, bloating and other digestive problems.
Ageing also affects the immune system which increases the risk of catching cold, flu and pneumonia. The incidence of cancer also rises dramatically with age because of reduced Natural Killer (NK) cell activity. Natural Killer cells are an important part of the immune system which destroy cancer cells. Since about 70% of the immune system is present in the intestine, improving intestinal health can also help in boosting immunity and lower the risk of infections in the elderly.
So, what can you do to have heal thier insides and maintain good intestinal health. An easy way is to consume probiotic foods as a part of the daily diet which can help to increase the beneficial bacteria in the intestine. These powerful microbes help in better digestion of food (especially the hard to digest fibres) and absorption of nutrients like Calcium, Magnesium and Iron. This can be a boon as we age and may help overcome some of the nutrient deficiencies which are common during this time.
Not only that, a study in Germany on 70 constipated men and women in the age group of 18-70 years showed that consumption of a probiotic drink improved the movement of the intestine and increased the water content of stool and helped to improve the symptoms and discomfort caused due to constipation.
Recent studies have shown that probiotics can also bind and remove toxins that are produced in the intestine during the process of digestion. Probiotics are also known to decrease the harmful bacteria in the intestine that weaken the immune system.
A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that consumption of a probiotic drink for four weeks by a group of healthy elderly men and women increased their Natural Killer cell activity which could lower incidence of cancer.
Ageing can be a beautiful transition in life if it goes hand in hand with good nutrition, an active and healthy lifestyle, adequate sleep and lots of fun and laughter. It can be a time to cherish and enjoy. Make the most of this time and take care of your health– especially intestinal health. Like the old saying by Hippocrates (Father of Modern Medicine)– most of the diseases begin in the gut –take care of your intestine for a longer disease free life.