You may already be aware of how vital enough hydration is for daily biological processes like controlling temperature and preserving the health of your skin.
A National Institutes of Health study that was released on Monday in the journal biomedicine found that drinking enough water is also linked to a significantly lower risk of contracting chronic diseases, a lower risk of dying young, or a lower risk of being biologically older than your chronological age.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a component of the National Institutes of Health, said in a news release that the study’s author Natalia Dmitrieva’s findings “indicate that regular hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life.”
The study’s authors stated that one of the biggest challenges of preventive medicine is figuring out what preventive treatments can slow down the aging process. Because of the increasingly aging global population, an epidemic of “age-dependent chronic diseases” is developing. Additionally, prolonging a healthy life span can do more to enhance the quality of life and save medical expenses than simply treating diseases can.
Based on an earlier similar study in rats, the authors hypothesized that maintaining optimum hydration might hasten the process of aging. According to the latest study, in earlier experiments, lifetime water restriction led to an increase in serum sodium levels in mice of 5 millimoles per liter and a six-month reduction in lifespan, which is equivalent to around 15 years in humans. When we consume fewer fluids, our blood’s level of serum sodium rises, and this may be monitored.
The research team discovered that adults with serum sodium levels at the higher end of the normal range, which is 135 to 146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L), had worse health outcomes than those at the lower end of the range using health data gathered over 30 years from 11,255 black and white adults as part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, or ARIC. Participants were in their 40s or 50s when data collection started in 1987, and their average age at the last assessment was 76 throughout the study duration.
Comparing participants with levels between 137 and 142 mEq/L, adults with levels over that range had a 10% to 15% higher likelihood of being biologically older than their chronological age. The patients who were more likely to age more quickly also had a 64% higher risk of having chronic illnesses such as diabetes, dementia, peripheral artery disease, heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Additionally, those with levels above 144 mEq/L had a 50% increased risk of biological aging and a 21% increased risk of premature death. On the other hand, adults with serum sodium concentrations between 138 and 140 mEq/L had the lowest chance of contracting a chronic illness. Participants’ water intake was not recorded in the study.
Dr. Howard Sesso, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, stated via email that this study “adds observational evidence that reinforces the potential long-term benefits of improved hydration on reductions in long-term health outcomes, including mortality.” Sesso was not a part of the investigation. But Sesso noted that it “would have been excellent to combine their definition of hydration, based on blood sodium levels alone, with real fluid intake data from the ARIC cohort.”
The performance of many organ systems and functions, including those related to the respiratory, metabolic, immunological, and inflammatory systems, was measured using biomarkers to assess biological age.
The risk of sickness, early death, and rapid aging was increased in persons with low serum sodium levels as well as in those with high serum sodium levels.
According to the authors, this result is consistent with earlier findings that low regular salt levels are associated with an increased risk of death and cardiovascular disease. These observations have been linked to illnesses that can affect electrolytes.
Although the study followed people over a lengthy period, the authors cautioned that the results do not establish a causal link between serum salt levels and these health outcomes. They stated that more research is required, but the results can aid physicians in identifying and assisting patients who are in danger.
According to Dmitrieva, evaluation of fluid consumption would be beneficial for individuals with serum salt levels of 142 mEq/L or above.
As accelerated aging “is a complicated subject that we are just starting to comprehend,” Sesso pointed out that the study did not specifically address this issue.
This is due to two main reasons, according to Sesso. The study’s authors “relied on a combination of 15 markers for accelerated aging, although this is just one of many classifications for which there is no universal agreement.” We are unable to determine cause and effect because, second, their data on dehydration and accelerated aging were a “snapshot” in time.
According to many studies referenced by the authors of the new research, about half of individuals globally do not consume the recommended amount of water every day.
Dmitrieva stated in a news release that “on a global level, this can have a major influence.” The findings imply that maintaining good hydration may slow down aging and prevent or delay chronic disease because increased serum sodium is most frequently caused by decreased body water content.
The Cleveland Clinic notes that water, which makes up more than 50% of your body, is essential for many bodily processes, including the digestion of food, production of hormones and neurotransmitters, and distribution of oxygen.
Women are advised to drink 2.7 liters (91 ounces) of fluids per day, whereas men are advised to drink 3.7 liters (125 ounces) per day, according to the National Academy of Medicine (previously the Institute of Medicine). This suggestion covers all liquids and foods high in water, such as fruits, vegetables, and soups. Women should drink 9 cups of water per day, while men should drink 12 cups, as the typical water intake ratio is about 80:20.
People with medical issues should discuss their ideal fluid intake with their doctor.