New study links good hydration to healthy aging

UNITED STATES — A new National Institute of Health study has found that adults who stay well-hydrated appear to be healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions, and live longer than those who don’t receive sufficient fluids.

The study, which was published yesterday in the eBioMedicine journal, gathered data from 11,255 adults over 30 years. Researchers analyzed links between serum sodium levels – which go up when fluid intake goes down – and various indicators of health, eventually finding that adults with serum sodium levels at the higher end of the normal range were more likely to develop chronic conditions and show signs of advanced biological aging than those with serum sodium levels in the medium ranges.

Additionally, adults with higher serum sodium levels were also more likely to die at a younger age.

“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,” 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, said in a press release.

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, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes, and dementia. However, adults with serum sodium levels between 138-140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.

Researchers noted that these findings don’t prove a causal effect, and randomized, controlled trials are necessary to determine if adequate hydration can promote healthy aging.

“On the global level, this can have a big impact,” Dmitrieva said. “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.”

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