18 September, 2009

Digestion and Aging: Enzymes to the Rescue

Yep, this is a post about old bowels. Sorry, but someone might find it useful, and that's my criterion for "post-worthiness."

I've been under a small freight train of stress these days, and it's been starting to show in a number of ways. One of them has been failing digestion. For the last couple months, I've been having a hard time digesting normal meals. I've actually been tempted to eat less, which makes no sense given the workload I'm under. And when I've given in to that temptation, I've had to cut back on the things I'm doing.

I'm getting older, right?

Then I was hammered with an allergy to wheat. Every time I'd eat wheat, my mouth and throat would begin to swell, and I'd have indigestion all day. I carefully eliminated all other changes to my diet, and yep, the staple of my life was suddenly poison to me.

So I cut out wheat. My problem did not go away. The swelling was gone, of course, but the weakness and indigestion were still there. The wheat thing appeared to be more a symptom than a cause.

I researched. I had an idea what I was looking for, so when I found it I was not surprised. As we age, our ability to make/use/whatever enzymes weakens. This is significant because enzymes are the doodads that break proteins up into usable thingamajigs. My body was running out of thingamajigs, even though I was eating plenty of good stuff.

Long story short, I went to my local health food store and bought the best enzymes I could find. 4 days into the new routine, I'm on the tennis court again and feeling pretty solid all around. I'm going to give it another week or two before I man up to trying wheat again, but the turn-around for my health was dramatic. Everything I eat feels well digested soon after I've finished.

Give it a try if you find you're experiencing age-related digestive problems.


Milly said...

Did you look at stopping the gluten?

Kevin Knox said...

I'm feeling pretty confident the problem is fatigue/stress related. I've eaten wheat/gluten like candy for 40+ years without a single issue. For it to suddenly act up like that points to a change in my metabolism, not a systemic problem.

I've been doing as well on gluten foods as not, and now I'm doing well with them with the enzymes again. I'll keep an eye on it.

Thanks, Milly.