As we grow old, our bodies are not as efficient as they used to be. They become creaky, stiff and, sometimes, even move in the wrong direction. The process of ageing involves a gradual decline of many of our bodily functions. Let’s try and understand whether age has an effect on acid reflux.
Statistics reveal that between 1998 and 2005, the elderly accounted for 50% of all patients diagnosed with Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) in the U.S.
Out of these 30% were hospitalized with a primary GERD diagnosis (which means they were hospitalized specifically for GERD). So if we were to go by statistics alone, it can be seen that GERD indeed worsens with age.
Research has a different take on this one. According to a 1996 study, age has little to no effect on the amount of stomach acid a person produces. The exceptions are people suffering from atrophic gastritis (chronic inflammation of the stomach mucosa), Helicobacter pylori infection, or if they have been heavy smokers.
However, studies do suggest that:
- Age reduces the amount of pepsin the stomach produces, making it harder for you to digest proteins.
- Age reduces the secretion of prostaglandin, a substance that protects the mucosal lining of the stomach
In general, it is believed that ageing leads to various digestive problems, including acid reflux. However, by making certain lifestyle changes, you can ensure your digestive health isn’t affected as you age.
Tips For Improving Digestion As You Age
- Drink a lot of water. Our bodies need 3 liters of water every day for digestion. While this is true for people of all ages, staying hydrated is surely a good idea as you age.
- Monitor your intake of fats as they are hard to digest. If you have acid reflux, it is advisable to reduce your fat intake with age to make things easy for your digestive system.
- Exercise regularly and keep your weight in check. Research has shown that losing 10 to 15 pounds can reduce heartburn by 40%. Even simple exercises, such as cleaning up the yard or going for a walk can help.
To conclude, while age can weaken your digestion, you can deal with it by making simple lifestyle changes.