Staying hydrated is linked to healthy aging – Zoo House News
Adults who stay well hydrated appear to be healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions like heart and lung disease, and live longer than those who may not be drinking enough fluids, according to a National Institutes of Health study published in eBioMedicine .
Using health data collected from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period, the researchers analyzed the links between serum sodium levels – which rise when fluid intake decreases – and various indicators of health. They found that adults with serum sodium levels at the high end of the normal range were more likely to develop chronic disease and show signs of advanced biological aging than those with serum sodium levels in the mid-range. Adults with higher scores were also more likely to die at a younger age.
“The results suggest that adequate hydration can slow aging and prolong disease-free life,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ( NHLBI), part of the NIH.
The study expands on the scientists’ research, published in March 2022, which found associations between higher ranges of normal serum sodium levels and increased risks of heart failure. Both findings come from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which includes sub-studies involving thousands of black and white adults from across the United States. The first ARIC sub-study began in 1987 and has helped researchers better understand risk factors for heart disease while formulating clinical guidelines for their treatment and prevention.
For this latest analysis, researchers evaluated information study participants shared during five doctor visits — the first two when they were in their 50s and the last when they were in their 70s and 90s. To allow for a fair comparison between the correlation of hydration and health outcomes, the researchers excluded adults who had high serum sodium levels at baseline check-ins or who had underlying conditions, such as obesity, that could affect serum sodium levels.
They then assessed how serum sodium levels correlated with biological aging, which was assessed using 15 health markers. This included factors such as systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, which provided insight into how well each person’s cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, kidney, and immune systems were functioning. They were also adjusted for factors such as age, race, biological sex, smoking status, and high blood pressure.
They found that adults with higher normal serum sodium levels — with normal ranges between 135 and 146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) — were more likely to show signs of more rapid biological aging. This was based on indicators such as metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function and inflammation. For example, adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had a 10-15% associated increased likelihood of being biologically older than their chronological age compared to ranges between 137-142 mEq/L, while values above 144 mEq/L L correlated with an increase of 50%. Likewise, levels of 144.5-146 mEq/L were associated with a 21% increased risk of premature death compared to ranges between 137-142 mEq/L.
Similarly, adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had up to a 64% increased risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation and peripheral arterial disease, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes and dementia. Conversely, adults with serum sodium levels between 138-140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.
The results do not prove a causal effect, the researchers noted. Randomized controlled trials are needed to determine whether optimal hydration can promote healthy aging, prevent disease, and lead to longer lives. However, associations can still inform clinical practice and guide personal health behaviors.
“People whose serum sodium is 142 mEq/L or greater would benefit from an assessment of their fluid intake,” Dmitrieva said. She found that most people can safely increase their fluid intake to meet recommended levels, which can be done with water as well as other liquids such as juices or vegetables and fruits high in water. For example, the National Academies of Medicine suggest that most women drink about 6-9 cups (1.5-2.2 liters) of fluids daily and men 8-12 cups (2-3 liters).
Others may need medical advice because of underlying health conditions. “The goal is to ensure patients are getting enough fluids while evaluating factors such as medications that can lead to fluid loss,” said Manfred Boehm, MD, study author and director of the Laboratory for Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine. “Physicians may also need to refer to a patient’s current treatment plan, e.g. B. Limiting fluid intake in heart failure.”
The authors also cited research showing that about half of the world’s people are not meeting recommendations for total daily water intake, which often starts at 6 cups (1.5 liters).
“On a global scale, this can have a big impact,” Dmitrieva said. “Decreased body water is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, so the results suggest that staying hydrated can slow the aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease.”
This research was supported by the NHLBI’s Division of Intramural Research. The ARIC study was supported by research contracts from NHLBI, NIH, and the Department of Health and Human Services.