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CHANGES WITH AGING: GASTROINTESTINAL

 

Gastrointestinal  System

The Gastrointestinal tract ages less than other systems with gut linings having an extraordinary capacity for replacing itself.

 

Dental

As people age, the gums recede slightly exposing the lower parts of the teeth to food particles and bacteria. Tooth enamel also tends to wear away. These changes make the teeth more susceptible to decay and cavities (caries), which make tooth loss more likely.

Cavities or periodontal (gum) disease, and dental loss are more a factor of poor dental hygiene than age. With age, the location of cavities changes, and an increasing amount of root cavities and cavities around existing sites of previous dental work are seen. Tooth loss leads to changes in diet and can increase the likelihood of malnutrition.

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The Oesophagus

The size of muscle contractions of the oesophagus decreases with age, but do not appear to cause any symptoms. Disorders of the oesophagus are most often the result of diabetes mellitus, central nervous disorders, malignancy, or other diseases.

 

The Stomach

The amount of stomach acid secreted declines, probably as a result of a loss of the cells that produce gastric acid. Many people find they need the assistance of digestive enzyme supplements.

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The Small Intestine

Shows a modest amount of atrophy of the lining. Any reduction in bile production may affect the proper break down of food in the small intestine, leading to a weakening of the walls of the small intestine over time.

 

The Large Intestine

Atrophy of the lining, changes within the muscle layer, and blood vessel abnormalities. Weakness of the bowel wall and increased pressure inside the intestine can result in diverticula pouches in the lining of the large intestine. This occurs in nearly one in three people who are 60 years or older, and increases with age. With reduction in intestinal muscle strength and muscle contraction co-ordination, constipation is common.

Many claim that poor bowel function results in the accumulation of bowel matter, further weakening the walls of the bowel and resulting in leaky gut syndrome. Bowel cleanse products are ideal to ensure you maintain a healthy gut.

 

Metabolism and Absorption

Changes can occur in the metabolism and absorption of some sugars, calcium, and iron.

  • Highly fat-soluble compounds such as vitamin A appear to be absorbed faster as we get older.
  • The activity of some enzymes such as lactase, which helps us digest some sugars [particularly in dairy products], appears to decline, but the levels of other enzymes remain normal.
  • The absorption of fat may change, but this may relate more to changes in the pancreas and the digestive enzymes it produces rather than the ability of the intestine to absorb fat.

 

The Liver

The liver decreases in size and blood flow declines. There is reduced capacity to regenerate damaged liver cells. The shape of the liver adjusts to the contours of the adjacent organs, and the common bile duct that drains into the intestine enlarges. However, the portion of the bile duct just at the opening to the intestine narrows somewhat. A poorly functioning liver can cause an array of health issues throughout the body.

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The Pancreas

Commonly drops a little in the abdomen and the pancreatic ducts gradually increase in size. Atrophy is common in the pancreas as is scar tissue and fat. The liver and pancreas maintain adequate function throughout life, and, thankfully, age-related failure in the liver or pancreas does not occur. The metabolism of specific compounds, including numerous drugs, can be significantly prolonged in elderly people.

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NEXT: Changes In Renal Function With Age


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