Most people know the importance of drinking plenty of clean water to keep your body and mind functioning optimally. Water helps prevent dehydration and helps regulate body temperature, lubricate joints and remove waste. In addition, it helps balance body fluids, control hunger, energize muscles and hydrate the skin. It also appears to increase longevity, says a study.
In short, water makes life possible, but many people need to drink more of this vital beverage. According to the CDC, American adults drank an average of 44 ounces of tap water between 2015 and 2018. However, that falls short of the recommendation to drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
This amount increases in hot, humid weather or for people who do strenuous exercise. Also, being sick with gastroenteritis or fever increases the body’s hydration needs. In both sickness and health, it is clear that we could not thrive or even survive without water. In addition to helping to sustain life, studies show that this essential drink can also increase longevity.
Drinking water can promote healthy living
Research now confirms what doctors have already advised: water can promote healthy living and increase longevity.
According to a study by the National Institutes of Health published in eBioMedicine, well-hydrated adults enjoy superior health. They also tend to develop fewer chronic illnesses, such as lung and heart disease, and survive dehydrated adults.
The researchers collected data from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period for the study. They investigated the association between serum sodium levels, which increase when fluid intake decreases, and various measures of health.
They found that adults with higher serum sodium levels were more likely to develop chronic diseases. Inadequately hydrated adults also exhibited signs of advanced aging compared to those with normal serum sodium levels. Finally, adults with high sodium levels had a higher risk of premature death.
“The results suggest that adequate hydration can delay aging and prolong a disease-free life.said Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., study author and researcher at the Laboratory of Regenerative Cardiovascular Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood University. Institute (NHLBI), part of the NIH.
The study on how adequate water intake extends life expectancy
The study builds on the scientists’ previous research published in March 2022, which found a connection between higher serum sodium levels and increased risks of heart failure. They used the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which includes thousands of US adults, to support the findings of both studies.
The initial ARIC substudy began in 1987 and gave researchers a better understanding of the various risk factors for heart disease. The findings also improve clinical guidelines for treating and preventing heart disease.
For the latest research, scientists analyzed health information that study participants shared during five doctor visits. The first two medical consultations took place when the volunteers were 50 years old. Participants were aged between 70 and 90 years at their last three medical evaluations.
For more accurate results, researchers excluded adults with high serum sodium levels or underlying health conditions at baseline. Next, they studied how sodium levels affected biological aging, which they assessed using 15 health markers.
These included measures such as systolic blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol, which provided information about participants’ cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, kidney and immune system health. The investigators adjusted for age, sex, race, smoking, and hypertension.
Study results on longevity and hydration
They found that adults with higher serum sodium levels showed more significant signs of aging. For reference, normal ranges for sodium are between 135 and 146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). To assess the signs of aging, scientists used indicators such as metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function and inflammation.
For example, adults with serum sodium levels greater than 142 mEq/L were 10 to 15% more likely to be biologically older than their chronological age compared to those between 137 and 142 mEq/L. Furthermore, levels above 144 mEq/L were correlated with a 50% increase in the risk of premature aging. Furthermore, adults with sodium levels of 144.5-146 mEq/L had a 21% higher risk of early mortality compared to those in the normal range.
Similarly, adults above 142 mEq/L had an elevated risk of up to 64% of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, atrial fibrillation and peripheral artery disease. They also had a higher risk of chronic lung disease, diabetes and dementia. Not surprisingly, adults with normal serum sodium levels had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.
Science Says: Drink More Clean Water for Longevity
However, the researchers emphasized that correlation does not necessarily imply causation. They added that randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm whether adequate drinking water intake slows aging, prevents disease and increases longevity. But the study could still offer guidelines for the general public and help clinicians counsel their patients about appropriate health behaviors.
“Individuals whose serum sodium is 142 mEq/L or higher would benefit from an assessment of their fluid intakesaid Dmitrieva. He added that most people could safely consume more liquids, such as drinking water, juices and fruits and vegetables, to meet the general recommendations. The National Academies of Medicine suggest that women drink about 6 to 9 cups (1.5 to 2.2 liters) of fluids and men drink 8 to 12 cups (2 to 3 liters) a day.
However, people with underlying conditions may need to consult their doctor before increasing their water intake. “The aim is to ensure that patients are getting enough fluids, as well as to assess factors, such as medications, that can lead to fluid loss.said Manfred Boehm, MD, study author and director of the Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine Laboratory. “Physicians may also need to delay a patient’s current treatment plan, such as limiting fluid intake for heart failure.“.
Unfortunately, approximately half of the world’s population does not meet daily water intake guidelines, according to research cited by the authors. This alarming statistic highlights the urgent need for proper health education and public campaigns to raise awareness of the problem.
“Globally, this can have a huge impact.said Dmitrieva. “Decreased body water content is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, so the results suggest that staying well hydrated can slow down the aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease.”.
The NHLBI’s Division of Intramural Research helped support the research. NHLBI, NIH, and Department of Health and Human Services research contracts helped fund the ARIC study.
Final considerations on the relationship between adequate hydration and longevity
When most people drink a glass of water, they don’t think about how it can help them live longer. However, scientists have discovered that adequate hydration can extend lifespan, lower serum sodium levels and reduce the risk of disease. We need water for all bodily functions, but many people don’t get to the recommended daily intake. However, carrying a reusable drinking water bottle to work or school can help you meet or exceed these guidelines.
You’ll also feel refreshed and energized by increasing your water intake, so give it a try. It will improve your well-being and add longevity to your life!