Drink up! Research finds good hydration essential for healthier ageing and reduced risk of chronic disease

Jan 04, 2023
Your 8 cups of water a day may lead to healthier ageing and fewer chronic conditions, study finds. Source: Getty

There’s no doubt that drinking sufficient amounts of water every day is important, but a recently published study has now shown that staying hydrated slows down “age-dependent chronic diseases” and extends a healthy life span.

According to a study done by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), well-hydrated individuals are less likely to age faster physiologically and develop chronic conditions like heart and lung disease.

For their study, the researchers analysed the sodium blood levels of more than 11,000 adults between the ages of 45 to 66.

The study stated that the normal range of blood sodium concentration was 135 to 146 millimoles per litre, noting that higher sodium concentration is a sign of low hydration.

Over 25 years, they found that those with blood sodium levels over 144 millimoles per litre were 50 per cent more likely to show physical signs of ageing beyond what would be expected for their age and have a 20 per cent higher risk of premature death, compared to those with low blood sodium levels.

They also found that those with blood sodium even above 142 millimoles per litre were more at risk of chronic diseases like heart failure, stroke, lung disease, diabetes and dementia.

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

Though it is advised by the National Academies of Medicine that women drink eight-ounce cups of water a day and about eight to 12 for men, co-study author and director for the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Manfred Boehm, M.D, says that while those recommendations are ideal everyone’s hydration needs are different.

“The goal is to ensure patients are taking in enough fluids, while assessing factors, like medications, that may lead to fluid loss,” he said.

“Doctors may also need to defer to a patient’s current treatment plan, such as limiting fluid intake for heart failure.”

Dmitrieva and her team say their findings “can have a big impact” on clinical practice and personal health assessments.

“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.”

“People whose serum sodium is 142 millimoles per litre or higher would benefit from evaluation of their fluid intake,” she says.

Dmitrieva adds that people may safely increase their fluid intake by drinking more water or juice or consuming fruits and vegetables with high water content.

Behavioural science expert Dr B.J. Fogg says individuals who struggle to stay hydrated may need to find a way to make drinking more water into a habit, suggesting leaving a glass of water by your bed or drinking water while you do other activities.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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