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Are you drinking enough water?  With water playing an integral role in the body’s functionality, it is essential to ensure that one is adequately hydrated. In fact, a new study has revealed that drinking enough water may be the key to a long and healthier life. In fact, staying hydrated may significantly lower one’s risk of developing chronic diseases, as well as their risk of dying early. 

Is Drinking Enough Water the Key to Longevity?

According to the World Health Organisation, the world’s population of people aged 60 years and older is expected to double to 2.1 billion by 2050. With people expected to live longer worldwide, there is a renewed interest in combatting “age-dependent chronic diseases”.

In an effort to find solutions to slowing down the aging process in humans, a team of researchers set out to determine if optimal hydration could stand to be one of these effective tools. This theory was inspired by previous research done on mice that found that lifelong water restriction shortened their life span by six months. 

The study

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

For the study, researchers used health data that had been gathered for over 30 years from 11 255 Black and White adults from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. 

These adults had their serum sodium levels measured at various points throughout the 30 years. This began when the participants were in their 40s and 50s, up until the average age of 76.

Serum sodium levels help indicate an individual’s fluid intake, so if you’re not getting enough fluids, i.e., water, then your serum sodium levels increase. On the other hand, if you are adequately hydrated, then the serum sodium levels decrease. 

Excluding participants with abnormally high serum sodium levels, as well as those with underlying health conditions, the researchers then compared the serum sodium levels to 15 markers of biological aging. These markers included systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. The team also made sure to adjust for factors like age, race, biological sex, smoking status, and hypertension.

Poor hydration means early death

“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,”study author Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D.

According to the findings, published in eBioMedicine, adults with higher levels of serum sodium are more likely to be biologically older, develop chronic diseases, and die at a younger age. 

A healthy serum sodium level falls between 135-146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). The study’s findings revealed the following:

  • Participants with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L face a 10-15% increased risk of being biologically older than their chronological age.
  • Those with serum sodium levels above 144 mEq/L faced a 50% increased risk of being biologically older than their chronological age.
  • Participants with serum sodium levels of 144.5-146 mEq/L had a 21% increased risk of premature death compared to those with ranges between 137-142 mEq/L.
  • Adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had a 64% increased associated risk for developing chronic diseases like heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and dementia. 
  • Those with serum sodium levels between 138-140 mEq/L faced the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.

The world is thirsty

The authors of the study noted that half of the world’s population is not meeting recommendations for daily total water intake.  

“On the global level, this can have a big impact,” said Dmitrieva, who is also a researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.

“Decreased body water content is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, which is why the results suggest that staying well hydrated may slow down the aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease.”

The study also found that those with low serum sodium levels faced an increased risk of chronic diseases, early death, and higher biological age. 

A hydrated you is a healthier you

The authors of the study acknowledge that a causal link between hydration and aging has not been proven. However, the findings do provide insight into the importance of hydration for a healthier life. 

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If you’re having trouble staying hydrated, try these tips:

  • Carrying a glass bottle of water with you.
  • Infusing your water with herbs or fruits. 
  • Consuming water-rich foods like watermelons, cucumbers, berries, tomatoes, and peaches.
  • Having a glass of water before and after a meal.
  • Add to your morning routine checklist and have a glass of water as part of your morning routine. 

Want to know more?

Increasing your water intake is a great resolution to adopt in 2023, but there are other ways you can improve your health this year. So here are practical health tips for a healthier, happier 2023.

MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: Photo by Fernanda Latronico

References

Allen, M. D., Springer, D. A., Burg, M. B., Boehm, M., & Dmitrieva, N. I. (2019). Suboptimal hydration remodels metabolism, promotes degenerative diseases, and shortens life. JCI insight4(17), e130949. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci.insight.130949

Dmitrieva NI, Gagarin A, Liu D, et al. (2023). Middle-age high normal serum sodium as a risk factor for accelerated biological aging, chronic diseases, and premature mortality. eBioMedicine. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2022.10440

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba

Pie Mulumba is a beauty and wellness writer who has a passion for poetry, equality, natural hair, and skin-care. With a journalism degree from Pearson's Institute of Higher Education, and identifiable by either her large afro or colorful locks, Pie aspires to continuously provide the latest information, be it beauty or wellness, on how one can adopt a healthy lifestyle on a day-to-day basis.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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