How consistent hydration slows aging and prolongs life

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: it’s important to keep your body hydrated.

After all, your body weight is composed of at least 50 percent water. Water is needed for eliminating waste, regulating body temperature, and lubricating joints, among other important functions.

It’s been estimated that even mild dehydration does the same damage to your heart as smoking a cigarette.

But not having enough water in your body has one more effect that may surprise you…

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Mild dehydration ages you prematurely

A recent study found that staying well-hydrated is linked to healthy aging.

Could it really be that simple? Yes — and here’s why…

Using health data gathered from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period, researchers analyzed links between serum sodium levels, which go up when fluid intake goes down, and various health markers. 

They found that when adults stay well-hydrated they tend to develop fewer chronic conditions, such as heart and lung disease.

That means they stay healthier — so this part shouldn’t really come as a surprise…

Well-hydrated people also live longer than those who may not get sufficient fluids.

And what happens to those who aren’t getting enough fluids? Those who live with mild dehydration?

Adults with higher levels of normal serum sodium — with normal ranges falling between 135-146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) —  due to less fluid intake, were more likely to show signs of faster biological aging and had a higher risk of premature death.

“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 (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Staying well-hydrated keeps harmful sodium levels down

Before this study, Dr. Dmitrieva led another study that found higher blood sodium levels at middle age — due to low fluid intake — were associated with heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy 25 years later.

So if you’ve not been the best about drinking water, start now and be consistent.

“It is natural to think that hydration and serum sodium should change day to day depending on how much we drink on each day,” says Dr. Dmitrieva.

“However, serum sodium concentration remains within a narrow range over long periods, which is likely related to habitual fluid consumption.”

Translation: You can’t make up for a week of poor hydration by drinking more water the following week. Your blood sodium is tied to your hydration habits in general, so you must be consistent in drinking enough water — if you want to save your heart, avoid premature aging and enjoy the fruits of healthier aging.

How to stay hydrated

You would think it would be easy to tell if you’re hydrated or not. But the truth is it’s easy for dehydration to sneak up on you.

Being thirsty is an obvious sign, but you might not realize that being irritable, constipated or suffering from headaches can also signal dehydration.

Drinking water is the obvious way to stay hydrated. In case you’re wondering how much is enough, Dr. Dmitrieva and the other researchers recommend 6-8 cups a day for women and 8-12 cups a day for men.

If drinking water keeps you running to the restroom, especially at night, avoid drinking any liquids after 6 pm.

And don’t forget that many fruits, vegetables, and other foods are naturally full of water. Here are eight of them.

There’s also evidence that milk may be even better than water or sports drinks at rehydrating your body after a workout session.

One precaution: if you’ve already been diagnosed with heart failure, drinking more water won’t help, as more water in the bloodstream makes it harder for the heart to pump. Heart failure patients have to practice fluid restriction to avoid overloading the heart.

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Good hydration linked to healthy aging — Science Daily

Middle-age high normal serum sodium as a risk factor for accelerated biological aging, chronic diseases, and premature mortality — The Lancet

Middle age serum sodium levels in the upper part of normal range and risk of heart failure — European Heart Journal

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.