In a study from the National Institutes of Health, scientists found adults who stay well-hydrated appear to be healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions, such as heart and lung disease, and live longer than those who may not get sufficient fluids.
They used health data gathered from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period and analyzed links between serum sodium levels—which go up when fluid intake goes down—and various indicators of health.
The team found that people with sodium levels at the higher end of a normal range were more likely to develop chronic conditions and show signs of advanced biological aging than those with sodium levels in the normal range.
Adults with higher levels were also more likely to die at a younger age. The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life.
For example, adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had a 10-15% associated increased odds of being biologically older than their chronological age compared to ranges between 137-142 mEq/L, while levels above 144 mEq/L correlated with a 50% increase.
Likewise, levels of 144.5-146 mEq/L were linked to a 21% increased risk of premature death compared to ranges between 137-142 mEq/L.
Similarly, adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had up to a 64% increased associated risk for developing chronic diseases like heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation and peripheral artery disease, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes, and dementia.
Conversely, adults with serum sodium levels between 138-140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.
The team says the findings don’t prove a causal effect. Future studies are necessary to determine if optimal hydration can promote healthy aging, prevent disease, and lead to a longer life.
However, the associations can still inform clinical practice and guide personal health behavior.
They note that most people can safely increase their fluid intake to meet recommended levels, which can be done with water as well as other fluids, like juices, or vegetables and fruits with high water content.
The National Academies of Medicine, for example, suggest that most women consume around 6-9 cups (1.5-2.2 liters) of fluids daily and for men, 8-12 cups (2-3 liters).
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The study was conducted by Natalia Dmitrieva et al and published in eBioMedicine.
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