As we age, our bodies start to change — including our ability to digest what we eat. Medications, a sedentary lifestyle, and even tooth decay and gum disease take a toll on healthy eating and healthy digestion.

When your digestion isn’t functioning properly, it can contribute to a host of health troubles. They may be issues directly related to the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, such as constipation, diverticulitis, and ulcers, or fatigue, skin irritation, migraines, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, thyroid issues, type 1 diabetes, and depression, according to Cleveland Clinic

“As we age, so much of our health is all about the plumbing and how to keep it moving and performing as it should,” says Juanita Merchant, MD, PhD, the chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at the University of Arizona in Tucson. “Your gut is about 30 feet of muscle, and it can get weaker and not function the same way it did when you were younger. But there are things you can do to keep your GI tract in better condition.” Here are seven ways to improve digestion as you age and keep your digestive tract running smoothly.

1. Stay Hydrated

Constipation becomes more common as we grow older. In fact, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) estimates that about one-third of older adults have occasional symptoms of constipation. Water and other fluids keep things moving. Liquids and fiber make a healthy digestion combo by bulking up and softening stools so they pass more easily through the digestive tract.

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