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Aging and Digestive Health

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How to Protect Your Digestive Health as You Age

Just like any other health problem, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to keeping your digestion running smoothly. "The things that are good for all older Americans are really good for the gut," Stein tells WebMD. These tips can help you protect your digestive health and your overall well-being.

  • Check your meds. Stein and Hanan recommend using medications with care. Talk with your doctor to see if your medications could be causing any digestive symptoms. If you use NSAIDs for pain, work with your doctor to find the lowest effective dose, and be sure to take them with food. Also check with your doctor to make sure you are taking only the medications you need.
  • Stay active. Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days week can help prevent many age-related health problems. It will also help keep you regular and decrease the risk for colon cancer.
  • Eat more fiber. Foods high in fiber, including fruits and vegetable, whole grains, and beans also tend to be high in nutrients and low in fat. High-fiber foods can help prevent constipation and ease symptoms of diverticulosis.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Drink enough so that you don't feel thirsty. If you are taking diuretics, talk with your doctor about ways to manage taking your medication so that you don't become dehydrated.
  • Manage your weight. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent many age-related health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Avoiding health problems can reduce the number of medications you need to take, which means less worry about digestive side effects. Limiting the fat in your diet, choosing healthy portions, and choosing whole foods instead of processed foods will all help you manage your weight more easily. 
  • Get regular health screenings. Be sure to tell your doctor about any troublesome symptoms and ask about regular screenings.

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Reviewed on May 08, 2012

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