A wide array of changes occurs in the function of the gastrointestinal system throughout life. With aging, there is a decline in the actual form of the intestines. Scientists have observed alterations in the structure of the intestines and in the membrane composition of the intestine. This causes declines in the absorption of some nutrients, such as fatty acids and cholesterol.
In addition, these are the following common changes in the GI system:
Decreased ability of the intestinal walls to hold and absorb nutrients makes older people highly sensitive to minor bodily insults.
Drugs appreciably affect taste sensation and thereby appetite.
Malabsorption can be caused by low levels of gastric acids, possible compounded by gastric hypochlorrhydria with small bowel bacterial over growth.
Lowered gastrointestinal movement including incontinence may occur.
Age-related changes in gastrointestinal- associated mucosal immune response also occur.
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