It was revealed that 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, according to a National Institutes of Health study published on eBioMedicine.
The study expanded on research published in March 2022, which discovered links between higher ranges of normal serum sodium levels and increased risks for heart failure. The findings came from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which includes sub-studies involving thousands of Black and white adults throughout the U.S.
This latest analysis facilitated researchers who assessed information study participants shared during five medical visits; the first two when they were in their 50s, and the last when they were between ages 70 to 90. To allow for a fair comparison between how hydration connected with health outcomes, researchers excluded adults who had high levels of serum sodium at baseline checkins or with underlying conditions that would affect sodium levels.
The study then evaluated how serum sodium levels correspond with biological aging, which was assessed through 15 health markers. These markers included factors like systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar. These factors provided insight about how well each person's cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, renal and immune system was functioning. They also adjusted for factors like age, race, biological sex, smoking status and hypertension.
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It was discovered that adults with higher levels of normal serum sodium, with ranges between 135-146 milliequivalents per liter, were more likely to show signs of faster biological aging. This discovery was based on indicators like metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function and inflammation.
Adults with serum sodium levels higher that 142 milliequivalents per liter had up to a 64% increased associated risk for developing chronic diseases like heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation and peripheral artery disease, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes and dementia.
The authors also cited research that finds about half of people worldwide don’t meet recommendations for daily total water intake, which often starts at six cups. This research was supported by the Division of Intramural Research at NHLBI. The ARIC study has been supported by research contracts from NHLBI, NIH, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
“On the global level, this can have a big impact,” 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 (NHLBI), part of NIH. “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.”