How to Manage Gut Health in Winter as You Age
Winter has arrived! It brings in cooler weather and also a host of health problems. Not only respiratory problems, achy joints, and skin infections, but even stomach problems are rampant during winters. It is essential to take ultimate care of the gut, especially for the elderly, during those chilly days when the digestive system takes a hit.
It is a known fact that one’s gut health can go for a toss during those chilly months. Improper digestion can invite many health issues. One may encounter belching, flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating.
The tummy aches you may have had as a child can evolve into a long list of digestive problems as you age. Medicine, inactivity and even gravity all can take their toll and contribute to digestive troubles as you get older. They’re annoying, but the good news is that things like acid reflux and constipation are irritations that you can prevent.
When you’re continuously exposed to low temperatures, your body takes it as a signal to conserve energy and heat, thus slowing down your metabolism. With this delayed metabolism your digestion is also not at its best. It will be essential for the elderly to take care of the diet during the winter season to ease digestion. Eating the right kind of foods is very important to keep digestion smooth. Your tendency to shift towards foods like nuts, seeds, grains, soups, stews are signals from your body.
Eat right: Sticking to a well-balanced diet during winter is key. Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, beets are rich in vitamin C, and boost the immune system during the colder days. It will also be a good idea to eat green leafy vegetables. Try to include kale, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, fenugreek, and spinach in your diet. These items can also be part of your soups. Greens are jam-packed with fiber and can regulate bowl movements and ease digestion. Thus, you will feel fuller and avoid eating junk food. Stick to these foods, and enhance your overall well-being.
Herbs and spices: Herbs and spices in the food not only help keep the body warm but also boost digestion. Your kitchen pantry is full of them – cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, cayenne, nutmeg, and cloves are all known to trigger the digestive fire, and let’s not forget their contribution in strengthening our immune system. You can infuse them in tea or a warm beverage, have them in soups and broth or add them to your desserts.
Avoid foods that trigger heartburn or reflux. For some, dairy causes the worst stomach problems. For others, it could be gluten. Since it’s different for everyone, try an elimination diet if you are uncertain about which foods cause issues for you. Talk to your doctor about getting tested for food allergies and food sensitivities to help find the culprit.
Add probiotics to the diet: Probiotic supplements, which contain helpful “good” bacteria, sometimes can aid people with chronic constipation. However, don’t take them for diarrhea unless it is after specific types of infections. Probiotics also come in the forms of certain yogurts (check the nutrition label), fresh sauerkraut, kombucha and tempeh.
Stay well-hydrated: Fluid intake tends to decrease when there is a sudden drop in the temperature. Drinking enough water will help you to eliminate the toxins from the body that negatively impact the immune system. Get a good night’s sleep: Not sleeping enough can make you feel sluggish, and drained.
Reduce stress: Stress can take a toll on the digestive system. So, try to de-stress by doing yoga, meditation, or other exercises like walking. You can also do what you like to reduce stress. Try activities like listening to music, cooking, photography, or even dancing. Stay active. Exercise and physical activity offer lots of health benefits, including preventing constipation. Getting at least 150 minutes per week of physical activity can put you on the right path to a healthy lifestyle.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting two days of muscle-strengthening exercises a week, too. Get out and get moving, your stomach will thank you.
Jing Gastroenterology & Hepatology
Address：136-68 Roosevelt Ave 3FL Flushing, NY, 11354