Study Links Good Hydration to Healthy Aging, Longer Life

New research suggests that adults who stay well-hydrated are at a lower risk of chronic diseases and live longer than those who do not get sufficient fluids.

The study by the National Institutes of Health published in eBioMedicine looked at the health data of 11,255 adults. The information was gathered over a 30-year period during five medical visits – the first two when participants were in their 50s and the last when they were between ages 70-90.

Researchers then evaluated how participants' serum sodium levels, which increase when fluid intake goes down, correlated with biological aging. This was assessed through 15 health markers, including systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

The study found that adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L were more likely to be biologically older than their chronological age and at a higher risk of premature death.

In addition, adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had up to a 64% increased associated risk for developing chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and peripheral artery disease. Higher serum sodium levels were also linked to higher odds of developing chronic lung disease, diabetes, and dementia.

"The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life," said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.

Researchers, however, note that findings don't prove a causal effect. Further studies are necessary to determine if optimal hydration can prevent chronic diseases and increase longevity.

A 2022 study that included 5,604 participants from 26 countries estimated how much water a person needs daily. Researchers found that a typical person in the U.S. or Europe should drink around 1.5 to 1.8 liters/per day.

According to the study, optimal water intake is mainly determined by energy expenditure, which is the body's energy to perform essential functions.

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