Hydration can significantly impact your physical health, study finds

You may know that being adequately hydrated is important for day-to-day bodily functions suchasregulating temperature and maintaining skin health.

But drinking enough water is also associated with a significantly lower risk of developing chronic diseases, a lower risk of dying early or lower risk of being biologically older than your chronological age, according to a National Institutes of Health study published Monday in the journal eBioMedicine.

“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,” said study author Natalia Dmitrieva, a researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, a division of NIH, in a news release.

Learning what preventive measures can slow down the aging process is “a major challenge of preventive medicine,” the authors said in the study. That’s because an epidemic of “age-dependent chronic diseases” is emerging as the world’s population rapidly ages. And extending a healthy life span can help improve quality of life and decrease health care costs more than just treating diseases can.

The authors thought optimal hydration might slow down the aging process, based on previous similar research in mice. In those studies, lifelong water restriction increased the serum sodium of mice by 5 millimoles per liter and shortened their life span by six months, which equals about 15 years of human life, according to the new study. Serum sodium can be measured in the blood and increases when we drink less fluids.

Using health data collected over 30 years from 11,255 Black and White adults from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, or ARIC, the research team found 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. Data collection began in 1987 when participants were in their 40s or 50s, and the average age of participants at the final assessment during the study period was 76.

Adults with levels above 142 mEq/L had a 10% to 15% higher chance of being biologically older than their chronological age compared with participants in the 137 to 142 mEq/L range. The participants with higherfaster-aging risk also had a 64% higher risk for developing chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, peripheral artery disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes and dementia.

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