What to Expect as You Get Older: How Our Digestion Changes Over Time

What to Expect as You Get Older: How Our Digestion Changes Over TimeGetting older brings about a multitude of changes in our lives. Many of us transition from full-time parents to empty nesters. Our busy careers lead us toward our retirement years. These are changes that many of us look forward to because they create more space to enjoy our lives. However, there are physical changes that are also to be expected as we enter our golden years.

Our digestion changes over time as our lifestyles change and our bodies mature. Here are a few changes that you may want to be aware of:

• Constipation – Constipation becomes an issue as we age and is most common in individuals as they approach their 60s and 70s. Infrequent bowel movements – as well as painful bowel movements – become more common.

• Esophagus problems – As we age, our esophagus may move food through our system more slowly. Because the esophagus connects the mouth to the stomach, it can make swallowing food more difficult as it becomes less effective in performing its function.

• Diverticulosis – Approximately 10 percent of individuals over the age of 40 – and 50 percent of individuals over the age of 50 – are diagnosed with diverticulosis. This condition occurs when tiny pockets form on the lining of the bowel. Chills/fever, painful cramps, and alternating episodes of diarrhea/constipation can occur with this condition.

• Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) – GERD occurs when the stomach acids back up into the esophagus, causing heartburn and pain.

• Stomach bleeding and ulcers – Actually, aging is not a contributing factor to ulcers. Instead, the widespread use of NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) contributes to ulcer formation. Since many individuals use NSAIDS to control chronic pain associated with arthritis and other chronic conditions, a higher incidence of ulcers and stomach bleeding is reported in older individuals.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to slow down or alleviate digestion-related disorders. Here are just a few:

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What to Expect as You Get Older: 5 Ways to Improve Your Memory

What to Expect as You Get Older: 5 Ways to Improve Your MemoryWe’ve all had the experience of walking into a room and forgetting why we were there or have had word-finding problems when trying to recall the name of someone we know. As we age, these types of memory lapses may become more frequent and, quite frankly, can become a huge source of frustration as these instances become more recurrent.

There are several theories about why our memory becomes weaker as we age. One possible cause is that the pathways to the hippocampus – the part of our brain responsible for storing memories – degrade over time. Although we still receive information, the breakdown occurs in trying to process and remember that information. This is why we become more forgetful as we get older.

The good news is that you don’t have to accept these little lapses as a no-win situation. In fact, there are several steps you can take to improve your memory. Here are just five of them.

Get plenty of sleep. It’s clear that getting plenty of restorative sleep helps keep you alert during the day, which goes a long way toward staying focused and keeping your memory in check. Furthermore, walking through your day sleep deprived not only sets you up for developing a host of chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension; it also mimics the aging process by contributing to declining memory processes.

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What to Expect as You Get Older: Bones, Joints, and Muscles

What to Expect as You Get Older: Bones, Joints, and MusclesAging. It’s a process that affects us from the moment of conception. However, as we get older, this process brings about many unwelcome changes in our bodies. In fact, it’s not unusual to feel the first signs of aging in our bones, joints, and muscles.

As you get older, you may notice changes in mobility. For instance, it may become more difficult to maintain balance. You may feel light-headed or dizzy when you stand or walk across the room. Your muscles may ache from time to time, and your joints may feel stiff in the morning. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize these issues.

First and foremost, stay active. Have you ever noticed that some elders are running marathons in their nineties while others struggle to walk across the room? It’s because our bodies adjust to what we physically demand of them. Demand more, and you’ll likely have a stronger body. Become sedentary, and your joints and muscles will follow suit.

It’s also important to pay attention to bone health as we grow older. For women, menopause often brings about changes in bone strength because of the loss of calcium and other important minerals. This causes bones to become thinner.

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What You Really Need to Know About High Blood Pressure

What You Really Need to Know About High Blood Pressure“You have high blood pressure.”

The first time you hear these words, they may come as a shock to you. After all, you feel just fine. You may even assume the diagnosis is a mistake or justify that your blood pressure is elevated a bit because you were running late that day and nervous about getting to your medical appointment on time.

In fact, it’s likely your diagnosis began as a routine yearly exam, not because of any warning signs that you were aware of. After a couple follow-up exams, you discover that your original reading wasn’t a “fluke” after all. You really do have high blood pressure, and now you’ve got to do something about it.

Perhaps, instead, you were stunned to learn that your child – or grandchild – has high blood pressure. It is not as uncommon as you may think. A generation ago, hypertension was considered an adult disease. Today, however, more and more children are being diagnosed with high blood pressure, and they are at risk for developing the same debilitating health conditions as their adult counterparts.

High blood pressure results when the blood pushes “too hard” against the walls of your blood vessels. The heart works harder to pump your blood, resulting in potential damage to the blood vessels, the heart, the kidneys, and other organs in the body. Ultimately, individuals who live with untreated hypertension are at risk for heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and premature death.

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Could You Have Undiagnosed Diabetes?

Could You Have Undiagnosed Diabetes?Millions of people live with diabetes. Unfortunately, many people don’t even know they have it. In fact, according to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 7 million individuals have undiagnosed diabetes. This condition is not only life-threatening; it is also costly. Annually, health care costs for diabetes is approximately $18 billion per year.

There are many myths surrounding this disease. First and foremost, because most adults know at least one person who has been diagnosed with diabetes who lives a “normal” lifestyle, many do not consider it a serious health issue. This is simply not true. Two out of three individuals who are diagnosed with this disease will die from a heart attack or stroke. In fact, according to recent data, more individuals die from diabetes than from breast cancer and AIDS combined.

Another myth is that overweight individuals will eventually develop diabetes. Although obesity does put an individual at risk, the fact remains that many who are diagnosed with diabetes are at their optimal weight or just slightly over, and, furthermore, most obese individuals will never develop diabetes. Still, it’s a good idea to keep your weight in check as a preventive measure. Genetics and a family history of diabetes are also significant risk factors that play a key role in whether an individual will eventually develop this condition.

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Dental Health May Be Linked to Heart Health

Dental Health May Be Linked to Heart HealthIf you want a healthier heart, the answer may be as close as your toothbrush.

According to several studies, there may be a direct link between gum disease and heart disease. In fact, you may be surprised at the correlation between the two.

• Gum (periodontal) disease puts you at increased risk for coronary artery disease and stroke.
• Oral bacterial can travel through the bloodstream to other parts of your body, including your heart, and can cause an infection of the inner lining of the heart called endocarditis.
• Inflammation is a common denominator between gum disease and heart disease. In fact, researchers have discovered that individuals with gum inflammation are twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease.

That’s why it is important to adopt a healthy oral hygiene routine and to see your dentist twice a year to ensure that your gums are in good health.

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The Price We Pay for Sleepiness

The Price We Pay for SleepinessMost of us suffer an occasional bout of insomnia or, perhaps, don’t get to bed early enough to get the restorative sleep we need to function at optimal productivity throughout the day. Regardless of whether you suffer through a sleepy day every once in a while or have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder, the consequences for not getting the rest you need can be far reaching.

The National Sleep Foundation estimates that approximately 40 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with a chronic sleep disorder with 62 percent suffering from sleep deprivation several times a week. These numbers are cause for concern because accumulating sleep debt puts you at increased risk for heart attacks, strokes, and other chronic health problems. There’s more.

Clearly, our bodies suffer physically when sleep deprivation becomes a constant companion in our lives; however, there are fiscal considerations as well. Reports vary, but it is estimated that employers lose approximately $18 billion a year due to lost productivity in the workplace as a result of sleepy workers. Other reports assess that financial loss at a much higher deficit, as high as $63 billion annually. Regardless of the numbers, it’s clear that sleepiness is an occupational hazard.

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3 Vitamins That Boost Your Immune System

3 Vitamins That Boost Your Immune SystemCold and flu season is in full swing. If you’ve had the flu shot, you’ve already taken a positive step toward protecting yourself against certain strains of influenza. However, there are other viruses – as well as the common cold – that can hit without warning and cannot be prevented with a yearly vaccination.

Of course, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands several times a day to keep germs at bay. If you follow hand-washing with a dollop of hand sanitizer, you’ll add even more protection against those pesky germs that make us sick. Nevertheless, because we do not live in a sterile world, there’s a good chance you’ll come in contact with contagious viruses, regardless of the precautions you take.

The good news is that you can boost your immune system naturally. Here are three vitamin supplements you can add to your diet that can help you resist illness during the winter months.

Vitamin B Complex – Experts tout the benefits of taking vitamin B complex to stay healthy. There are eight B vitamins – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12 – that work together to keep our bodies strong and resistant to disease.

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You’ve Been Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. What Next?

OWL-0051-120214-youve-been-diagnosed-with-fibromyalgia-what-nextOWL-0051-120214-youve-been-diagnosed-with-fibromyalgia-what-nextThe diagnosis of fibromyalgia syndrome (FS) can be confusing to many individuals since one person’s experience with FS may be completely different than another individual’s experience. Because fibromyalgia represents a set of symptoms, it is often difficult to diagnose, particularly since it can be symptomatic of another underlying chronic condition. Often misunderstood, patients who receive the diagnosis of FS from their healthcare provider may be unfamiliar with natural ways to treat their lingering symptoms.

Approximately 10 million individuals in the United States have FS, and women are 10 times more likely to be diagnosed with it than men. Although widespread joint and muscle pain are the most common complaints, there are a host of other warning signs that you should be aware of if you suspect that you – or someone you know – may have undiagnosed FS. Here are just a few.

• Pervasive muscle and joint pain
• Debilitating fatigue
• Widespread pain
• Morning stiffness
• Facial/jaw pain
• Irritable bowel syndrome
• Concentration/memory problems (“fibro fog”)
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Painful menstrual cramps
• Insomnia
• Urination pain and frequency
• Numbness and tingling in extremities
• Chronic headaches
• Abdominal pain
• Dryness in eyes, nose, and mouth

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Men and Osteoporosis

Men and OsteoporosisOsteoporosis. It’s a chronic condition that most of us attribute to women’s health. While it’s true that 80 percent of osteoporosis diagnoses are prescribed to women, men account for nearly two million diagnoses each year in the United States…and that number is growing. In fact, roughly 12 million men in this country are at risk for this painful, chronic condition.

Osteoporosis is a disease that results in weak and thinning bones, and approximately one in four men over the age of 50 will have an osteoporosis-related broken bone during their lifetime. Yearly, nearly 80,000 men break a hip due to osteoporosis and are more likely than women to die within a year from osteoporosis-related complications.

There are several risk factors that may put men at risk. Here are just a few:

• Family history of osteoporosis
• Lack of exercise
• Low testosterone/estrogen levels
• Steroid use
• Heavy alcohol/tobacco use
• Certain chronic conditions, such as osteoarthritis

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