If there were a magic elixir that could lower your risk of chronic disease and dying early, would you drink it? If you said, “Yes,” then grab a glass and walk to the faucet.
According to a National Institutes of Health study published Monday in eBioMedicine, “Adults who stay well-hydrated appear to be healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions, such as heart and lung disease, and live longer than those who may not get sufficient fluids.”
“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,” said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, part of NIH.
For their study, Dmitrieva and her team analyzed data from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period for links between serum sodium levels and health conditions.
Normal serum sodium levels fall between 135 and 146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). The researchers found participants with higher levels were more likely to age faster biologically than chronologically, based on lung function, inflammation, and metabolic and cardiovascular health.
In addition, adults with serum sodium levels higher than 142 mEq/L had up to a 64% higher risk of developing heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, peripheral artery disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, dementia and other diseases. Those with levels between 138 and 140 mEq/L, however, had the lowest risk of developing a chronic disease.
“People whose serum sodium is 142 mEq/L or higher would benefit from evaluation of their fluid intake,” Dmitrieva said in a press release.
According to the National Academies of Medicine, most women should drink 6-9 cups of fluids daily, with men consuming 8-12 cups. This can be achieved through water, juices, or vegetables and fruits with a high water content.
The researchers noted randomized, controlled trials are necessary to determine if “optimal hydration can promote healthy aging, prevent disease, and lead to a longer life,” acknowledging their analysis does not prove causal effect.
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