A bunch of different fruits on the table

A Guide to a Happy Gut for Seniors 

When we think of bacteria, we often think of sickness and disease, but some bacteria can actually be really beneficial, especially in your gut! There are literally trillions of microbes including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that live in your gut, help you digest food, fight harmful pathogens, make important minerals for your body, impact your immune system, impact your heart health, and affect your cancer risk. And now there is evidence to suggest the health of gut biome can also play an important role in healthy aging too. Sounds pretty great right? Well in this article we’ll go over a few steps you can take to have a healthier, happier gut. 

  • Eat a healthy diet. Like so much of our body, your gut is happiest when you’re eating healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), and whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat products). These foods are rich in fiber, which is what the microbes in your gut feed on. So the more of this you have in your diet, the better environment they have to grow. In contrast, unhealthy diets full of processed, fatty, and sugary foods are not good for your gut and the microbes that live there. 
  • Exercise. There is some evidence that exercising regularly can also positively impact your gut biome, although the exact reason why is not known yet. Some theories say it could affect how food moves through our digestive system while others say it can reduce inflammation in the gut and still others suggest exercise affects our appetite. No matter the reason, exercise does seem to be good for the gut, and exercise itself is great for healthy aging as well. That’s a win-win in our book! 
  • Get a dog. Dog owners know these animals are always tracking in things from outside, and while it might make for some annoying messes, it’s benefitting you by exposing your to more microbes and increasing the diversity in your overall microbiome. 
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking isn’t good for any part of your body, including your gut. The chemicals and toxins present in cigarettes and other tobacco products kill microbes and decrease microbe diversity. It puts stress on your whole body, and this can actually lead to microbes attacking us or each other, rather than helping us. 
  • Add in probiotics. While we’ve already talked about how healthy foods are beneficial for your gut, there is a little bit more you can do when it comes to eating. Probiotics, or colonies of “good” bacteria can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sourdough, and sauerkraut, and these can boost your gut biome and increase the diversity. You can also take probiotic supplements, but probiotics can often be more beneficial when they come from food.