People have long searched for the secret to living longer, healthier lives, and researchers believe they’ve unlocked part of that equation. It could be as simple as drinking enough water.
A new study published in the journal The Lancet eBioMedicine, reveals that people who stay well hydrated are less likely to show signs of premature aging and chronic disease.
Higher blood sodium levels linked to older biological age
Researchers looked at health data accumulated over more than 25 years from nearly 16,000 adults aged 45 to 66 in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study to analyze their serum sodium levels – the amount of sodium in their blood – as an indicator of how much water they regularly drink.
Data collection began in 1987, and the average age of participants at the final evaluation over the study period was 76 years.
The results indicate that adults with serum sodium levels at the upper end of the normal range (135 to 146 milliequivalents per liter, or mEq/L) experienced worse health outcomes than those at the lower end of the normal range. lower end of this range.
Participants with levels above 142 mEq/L had up to 64% higher risk of chronic diseases including stroke, heart failure, peripheral arterial disease, atrial fibrillation, chronic lung disease , diabetes and dementia.
They also had a 10-15% increased risk of being biologically older than their true age, compared to adults whose levels were between 137 and 142 mEq/L.
Those with levels between 144.5 and 146 mEq/L had a 21% increased risk of premature death. However, adults who maintained their serum sodium level between 138 and 140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing chronic diseases.
Although these results do not prove that staying hydrated can reduce the risk of disease, researchers have established an association between water consumption and long-term health.
“Decreased body water content is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, so the results suggest that staying well hydrated may slow the aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease,” the report said. Study author Natalia Dmitrieva, a researcher at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said in a statement.
The authors also cited research that finds that about half of the world’s people do not meet the recommendations for total daily water intake, which typically starts at six cups or 1.5 liters.
“I think so [sodium] is a piece of the puzzle,” Dr. Jessica Zwerling, a neurologist affiliated with Montefiore Medical Center, told The Epoch Times. She thinks the study did a good job of using sodium as an indicator of aging.
She pointed out that it is necessary to look at many other factors, such as hormones, inflammation and cytokines (signaling cells), which can also influence aging.
The results suggest that it is important to maintain serum sodium within an optimal range. The researchers found that the health risks were also higher in people with low serum sodium levels. This is consistent with previous research that found increased mortality in healthy people with low serum sodium levels.
The results of this study indicate that, regardless of blood pressure status, lower than normal sodium levels are associated with more heart attacks, strokes and deaths compared to the average intake. .
The amount of water we need depends on different factors
According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adult women should drink about 2.2 liters of water per day and adult men should aim for about three liters.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to drink those exact amounts.
“There have been good studies on ranges in women and men, around two to two and a half liters a day,” Zwerling said. “But [only] 80 percent of that [water intake] comes from the drink.
There is a water content in the foods we eat that counts towards our daily intake. The recommendation may also be different depending on the health conditions we have or certain medications we take.
“Or if you have an acute infection, which may require drinking more water than the recommended amount,” Zwerling said.
You can drink too much water
Electrolytes, like sodium, are vital minerals that act as charged particles to carry electrical current through cells. This electrical current is essential for nerve stimulation, muscle contraction, and fluid regularity.
A deficiency can lead to a variety of unwanted symptoms like lack of energy, extreme fatigue, muscle aches, irregular blood pressure and confusion. Maintaining a balance is therefore essential to maintaining overall health.
“Sodium plays one of the most important roles in the body,” said Beata Rydyger, Los Angeles-based licensed nutritionist and clinical nutrition consultant at Zen Nutrients. “However, other electrolytes like potassium, magnesium and calcium also play a vital role and therefore require daily maintenance.”
Although proper daily hydration is essential for optimal health, drinking too much can pose a health risk and even be life-threatening.
“The kidneys release about a liter of fluid per hour,” Rydyger explained. “Excessive water consumption can lead to a condition known as hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood).”
Drinking more than the kidneys can eliminate causes the dilution of sodium, which is an essential electrolyte, and causes cells to swell and inflame.
Symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, nausea, vomiting, and confusion and, in severe cases, seizures or death.
Certain lifestyle factors, such as exercise, may exacerbate this risk [by causing excessive thirst]warned Rydyger.