CHANGES WITH AGING: GASTROINTESTINAL
The Gastrointestinal tract ages less than other systems
with gut linings having an extraordinary capacity for
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
in Dentistry News
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
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
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.
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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 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.
News on Liver Treatments
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.
In Renal Function With Age