New Research Shows Probiotics May Improve the Quality of Senior Life

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New Research Shows Probiotics May Improve the Quality of Senior Life

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Sometimes senior life gets complicated, especially where the gut is concerned. So many things can affect our digestive system, and the health of our digestive system has a huge impact on our ability to enjoy life and to maintain good health.

With all of this in mind, it’s no wonder that probiotics have become one of the fastest growing categories in the health food industry. In fact, business is booming as probiotics keeps showing up in so many of your favorite foods—from yogurt to granola bars.

But what are probiotics? And what makes them so good for you?

Well, it’s all right there in the name. Probiotic literally means “for life” or “pro life.” Although microscopic in size, these tiny organisms pack a powerful punch when it comes to healthy benefits for your entire body. And the benefits don’t stop in the gastrointestinal tract either.

Probiotics Offer Big Benefits for Senior Life

As we age, the amount of healthy bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract begins to decline, causing such issues as diarrhea, constipation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Many doctors and nutritional experts now believe that regular probiotic use can help alleviate, or even totally eliminate, these problems for older adults.

But the natural decline of intestinal flora can have even more serious consequences than gastrointestinal distress— affecting the immune system and leaving seniors open to illness and infection.

Fortunately, recent studies have shown that probiotics can help invigorate a compromised immune system. A vast majority of our immune defenses can be found in the digestive tract – almost 75%, in fact— so maintaining a good “micro flora” balance in the intestines is very important if one is to achieve and maintain optimal health.

How to Choose the Right Probiotic for Senior Life

Different strains of bacteria perform different functions within the gastrointestinal trac, and certain intestinal bacteria are impacted by age more than others.

Bifidobacteria, for instance, begins to decline significantly around the age of 50. Since Bifidobacteria plays a vital role in overall digestive and immune health, and because it is the most widespread beneficial bacteria in a healthy large intestine, it makes sense for the older adult to supplement with a multi-strain probiotic formula containing high levels of Bifidobacteria for maximum support.

There are many supporters of the theory espousing the use of a multi-strain probiotic supplement for maximum benefit. But you may find yourself wondering which ones are will work best for you. Let’s look at a few suggestions.

  • Bifidobacterium lactis, as already stated, helps to control certain aspects of the immune system.
  • Lactobacillus reuteri is considered a “universal” gut organism. It benefits the body by fighting off infections and bulking up the immune system.
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus is useful in the prevention and treatment of various types of diarrhea.
  • Lactobacillus casei helps to fortify your immune system by preventing harmful bacteria from multiplying in your intestines and can be beneficial in controlling diarrhea caused from taking antibiotics.
  • Bifidobacterium lactis helps deal with various digestive discomforts, diarrhea and supports immune function.
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus can provide dietary support by helping to control the diarrhea that occurs when taking antibiotics; helps those dealing with lactose intolerance issues; and may also be helpful in reducing cholesterol levels.
  • Lactobacillus bulgaricus can be beneficial for those suffering from lactose intolerance.

Probiotic supplements should be taken as enteric-coated capsules so as to protect the beneficial organisms from the acidic environment of the stomach, delivering them directly to the intestines where they can flourish and grow.

Probiotics Benefit Senior Life

It is easy to see that probiotics becomes more critical for health as we age.

These organisms must be present within our gastrointestinal tracts for our bodies to function optimally and fight off disease. So seniors may want to consider adding a probiotic supplement to your health regime to assist the immune system, facilitate digestion and provide additional nutrients to your body helping you to enjoy your senior life more fully.

Bryan Reynolds
April 19, 2014
Bryan Reynolds is the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS). Bryan is responsible for developing and implementing ERS' digital marketing strategy, and overseeing the website, social media outlets, audio and video content and online advertising. After originally attending The Ohio State University, he graduated from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a Bachelor of fine arts focused on electronic media. Bryan loves to share his passion for technology by assisting older adults with their computer and mobile devices. He has taught several classes within ERS communities as well as at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute run by the University of Cincinnati. He also participates on the Technology Team at ERS to help provide direction. Bryan and his wife Krista currently reside in Lebanon, Ohio with their 5 children.

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