Habits to Make Your Gut Healthier as You Age

Habits to Make Your Gut Healthier as You Age

The gut is one of the body’s largest organs, both in terms of size and complexity. Its main function is to absorb food and other nutrients into the body, but the gut also plays a key role in digestion, immunity and mental health.

One of the most important reasons to care about your gut health is because it affects so many other areas of your health. As you age, your digestive system starts to slow down and may even begin to fail. This can cause problems like constipation, gas, bloating and diarrhea — all common complaints among older people — as well as a host of other complications. Even if you’re young, you may still want to know what’s going on down there

The good news is that it’s very easy to maintain a healthy gut. Making small changes to your diet can have huge benefits for your health. Here are three steps you can take right away:

  1. Eat lots of fiber. Fiber is critical for good gut health. A diet high in fiber helps move waste through the digestive tract more smoothly and helps reduce gas and bloating. The best sources of fiber are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (such as beans).
  2. Prebiotics & probiotics. Prebiotics are nutrients that help probiotics (good bacteria) grow. Probiotics help crowd out bad bacteria in your digestive tract and keep it healthy. You get prebiotics by eating onions, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes and leeks; probiotics through yogurt with live cultures (like Lactobacillus acidophilus). Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir (a fermented milk drink), kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage), sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), miso (fermented soybean paste), and tempeh (fermented soybean cake) also contain beneficial bacteria called probiotics.
  3. Antioxidants. These protect your cells from damage from harmful chemicals called free radicals. They’re found in colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and herbal teas.

Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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