Researchers Find Clean Simple Secrets to Healthy Aging: Good Hydration!

A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and published in eBioMedicine found that adults who maintain adequate hydration tend to have better overall health, a lower risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart and lung disease, and a longer lifespan compared to those who do not consume enough fluids.

Researchers analyzed data from 11,255 adults over 30 years and found that those with higher levels of serum sodium (a sign of lower fluid intake) were more likely to develop chronic conditions, show signs of advanced biological aging, and die at a younger age than those with medium levels of serum sodium. The study supports the idea that proper hydration is important for maintaining good health and longevity.

“The findings of our study suggest that proper hydration may help to slow down the aging process and extend a healthy lifespan,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a researcher from the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which is part of the NIH. “Maintaining adequate fluid intake may be a simple and effective way to promote overall health and well-being.”

This study builds on previous research published in March 2022, which found that higher levels of normal serum sodium were associated with increased risks of heart failure. Both studies were based on data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which includes multiple sub-studies involving thousands of Black and white adults from various locations in the United States. The ARIC study, which began in 1987, has provided valuable insights into risk factors for heart disease and has influenced clinical guidelines for its prevention and treatment.

In this study, researchers looked at data from five medical visits of participants, with the first two occurring when they were in their 50s and the last three occurring when they were between ages 70-90. The researchers wanted to examine the relationship between hydration and health outcomes, so they excluded adults with high serum sodium levels at the start of the study or with underlying conditions such as obesity that could affect serum sodium levels. The researchers then looked at how serum sodium levels correlated with biological aging, which was evaluated using 15 health markers such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar to assess the functioning of the participants’ cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, renal, and immune systems. They also took into account other factors such as age, race, sex, smoking status, and hypertension.
The researchers found that adults with higher levels of normal serum sodium (normal range is 135-146 mEq/L) were more likely to show signs of faster biological aging. This was determined using indicators such as metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function, and inflammation. For example, adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had a 10-15% increased odds of appearing biologically older than their chronological age compared to those with levels between 137-142 mEq/L, while levels above 144 mEq/L correlated with a 50% increase. Similarly, levels of 144.5-146 mEq/L were associated with a 21% increased risk of premature death compared to levels between 137-142 mEq/L.
The researchers also found that adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had an increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and peripheral artery disease, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes, and dementia. This risk was up to 64% higher compared to adults with lower serum sodium levels. On the other hand, adults with serum sodium levels between 138-140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing chronic diseases.

As a Conclusion 

It is certainly true that good hydration is an important factor in maintaining overall health, and this is especially true as we age. As we get older, our bodies become less efficient at regulating fluids, which can make us more prone to dehydration. Additionally, certain medications and health conditions that are more common in older adults can also increase the risk of dehydration.

To maintain good hydration, it is important to drink enough fluids, especially water, throughout the day. It is also a good idea to pay attention to the color of your urine, as a light yellow or clear color can indicate proper hydration, while a dark yellow or amber color may indicate that you are dehydrated. Other signs of dehydration can include dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness.

It is also important to note that it is possible to overhydrate, especially if you are drinking large amounts of fluids quickly. This can lead to a condition called hyponatremia, which can be serious or even life-threatening if left untreated. If you are concerned about your hydration status, it is always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider.


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