Adults who stay well hydrated are healthier, have fewer chronic diseases and live longer than those who don’t drink enough water, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health and published in eBioMedicine.
Using data from 11,255 volunteers, collected over a 30-year period, the researchers looked at the links between blood sodium levels, which rise when fluid intake is reduced, and various indicators of health. They found that those with higher-than-normal levels were more likely to develop chronic disease and show signs of advanced biological aging than those with blood sodium levels in the midrange. Adults with higher levels were more likely to die at a younger age.
The study builds on research published by scientists in March 2022 that found links between blood sodium levels and increased risk of heart failure. Both conclusions come from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study, which includes substudies involving thousands of adults in the United States.
For this latest analysis, the researchers evaluated information that study participants shared during five doctor visits: the first two visits when they were in their 50s and the last two when they were in their 70s and 90s. To allow a fair comparison of the relationship between hydration and health outcomes, the researchers excluded adults who had high blood sodium levels at baseline checks or who had underlying conditions, such as obesity, that might have affected the measurement.
The scientists then assessed how blood sodium levels relate to biological aging, which were assessed by various biomarkers of health. It also adjusted for factors such as age, race, biological sex, smoking and high blood pressure. Those with the highest blood sodium levels were 50% more likely to show signs of faster biological aging, had a 21% higher risk of premature death than those with the lowest levels, and 64% more chances of developing chronic diseases such as heart failure and diabetes. and dementia.
The researchers note that the results do not prove a cause-and-effect. Randomized controlled trials are needed to determine whether optimal hydration can promote healthy aging, prevent disease, and prolong life. However, associations can inform personal health behavior. “The goal is to make sure patients are drinking enough fluids and to assess factors, such as medications, that can lead to fluid loss,” said Manfred Bohm, MD, study author and director of the Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Laboratory.