How would you like an effortless way to reduce fatigue, have more energy, curb overeating, prevent constipation, enjoy more radiant skin, and improve mood, focus and short-term memory?
If that windfall of health benefits sounds good to you, your mission is easy…
All you must do is drink adequate amounts of water. But it gets even better…
A new study shows well-hydrated adults are healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions, and live longer than those who do not drink adequate amounts of water.
Why Water Matters to Your Health
Being well hydrated is vital for your health. Water really is a potent elixir for your brain and body, including the heart.
Last September a major study from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of the National Institutes for Health, concluded that maintaining good hydration throughout life slows decline in cardiac function and decreases the prevalence of heart failure.
First author Natalia Dmitrieva explained, saying, “The findings indicate that we need to pay attention to the amount of fluid we consume every day and take action if we find that we drink too little.”
In a follow-up study that’s just been published in the journal eBioMedicine, the same research team wanted to find out if adequate hydration can slow down the aging process.
Hydration Can Take 15 Years off Your Life
The research team was inspired by previous mice studies demonstrating that lifelong water restriction accelerated degenerative changes within multiple organ systems and shortened lifespan by the equivalent of 15 years of human life.
While that’s shocking, they made an even more shocking discovery: What’s considered “normal” levels of hydration can also be hazardous. And this was proven in human subjects!
For their study the researchers gathered data from 11,255 adults aged 45 to 66 and followed up on them over a 30-year period. Over that time the people had five medical checkups.
The researchers looked at levels of serum sodium (normal range of 135 to 146 mmol/l) as a proxy for the hydration habits of the study participants, because serum sodium increases when less fluid is consumed. From the serum sodium figure, the research team assessed the risk of premature mortality, rate of biological aging and burden of chronic disease.
After adjusting for multiple factors that could influence the findings (as well as excluding adults with high levels of serum sodium when the study began or those who had underlying conditions that could affect serum sodium levels) they found the following:
- More illness. Adults with serum sodium levels at the higher end of the normal range were more likely to develop chronic conditions and show signs of advanced biological aging than those with serum sodium levels in the medium ranges.
- Higher rate of dying young. Adults with higher serum sodium levels were also more likely to die at a younger age.
Risk of Premature Death Risk Rose By 21 Percent
Looking at the results in more detail they found adults with blood sodium levels above 142 had a ten to 15 percent increased risk of being biologically older than their chronological age compared to those in the range between 137 to 142.
Sodium levels above 144 correlated with a 50 percent increased risk of being biologically older.
Likewise, sodium levels of 144.5 to 146 were linked to a 21 percent increased risk of premature death compared to the sodium level range between 137 to 142.
Higher Rate of Chronic illness
Those with sodium levels above 142 had up to a 64 percent increased risk for developing chronic diseases like heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, and peripheral artery disease, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes, and dementia. Conversely, adults with levels between 138 to 140 had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.
Although this type of study cannot prove that mild dehydration within the normal range is the underlying cause of their findings, Dr. Dmitrieva said, “The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life.”
We now have quite convincing data that shows the importance of drinking water, but how much should you drink? The answer is probably more…
Half the World is not Drinking Enough Water
More specifically, the National Academies of Medicine suggest women consume six to nine cups (three to four pints) of fluid daily and men, eight to twelve cups (four to six pints).
However, researchers say you must take various factors into consideration when determining your water intake, such as your overall health, whether you have certain illnesses or take specific medications.
In addition, you must consider your amount of exercise, its level of intensity, and your climate as well as the number of fruits and vegetables you consume (as these have varying water content.)
The NHLBI team also noted in their paper that half of people worldwide don’t meet recommendations for daily total water intake.
This finding led Dr. Dmitrieva to explain, saying, “On the global level, this can have a big impact. 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.”
While we all know water is good for us and is the preferred beverage when it comes to maintaining good health, the research provides fresh motivation to increase your water intake. So, reach for a glass of fresh, clean spring water next time you want to quench your thirst. And better yet, drink some BEFORE you’re thirsty. The experts say that by waiting until you feel thirsty to drink, your body is already starting to dehydrate.