Being Hydrated Turns Out to Be More Important Than We Thought


Staying hydrated has turned out to be far more critical than previously known; a new scientific study has shown it can reduce the risk of early death, illness, and faster aging.

In-Depth Study Looks into ‘Optimal Hydration’

The new study by the National Institutes of Health shows that consuming a sufficient amount of water substantially lowers the possibility of dying early, falling ill with chronic diseases, or becoming “biologically older,” compared to one’s chronological age, CNN reported.

According to Natalia Dmitrieva, one of the study authors, “proper hydration” may contribute to decelerated aging and living a longer, healthier life.

The study notes the importance of figuring out what factors could “slow down aging” since there is an “epidemic” of “chronic diseases” dependent on age as the global population is swiftly becoming older.

Dmitrieva, who works for NIH’s Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and the other study authors used previous research in mice to presume “optimal hydration” could slow down aging.

The mice research looked at the blood levels of serum sodium, which increase if the body is dehydrated. It found spiking serum sodium in mice by five millimoles per liter reduced a mouse’s life by six months. That corresponds to 15 years of a human’s life.

The researchers who authored the study on how hydration affects human life span and health used data about 11,255 white and black adult Americans, which had been gathered over a 30-year period for an atherosclerosis risk study.

The data gathering started in 1987 among participants over 40 years of age, with the final stage’s average age of 76.

They discovered that adults whose serum sodium levels were higher in the normal range of 135-146 milliequivalents per liter suffered “worse health outcomes,” compared with adults at the lower end.

Adults whose serum sodium levels exceeded 142 mEq/L were subject to a 10-15% higher risk of being physically older than their chronological age compared with the rest.

The former group also were at a 64% higher risk of chronic diseases, including heart failure, dementia, diabetes, stroke, chronic lung disease, peripheral artery disease, and atrial fibrillation.

Adults whose levels stood over 144 mEq/L suffered a 21% higher risk of early death and a 50% risk of being physically older than their chronological age would suggest.

On the other hand, adults whose serum sodium levels were 138-140 mEq/L saw the lowest risk of chronic diseases.

Better Hydration Seems to Reduce Mortality, Chronic Disease

According to Dr. Howard Sesso, from Harvard Medical School, its findings provide evidence that “improved hydration” has “long-term benefits” for adults’ health. It also reduces “long-term health outcomes” such as “mortality.”

Sesso noted it would have been better if the study authors, who defied hydration solely based on serum sodium levels, looked at the “fluid intake data” for the 11,255 individuals from the atherosclerosis study.

The researchers did find low serum sodium levels carried basically the same risks as high serum sodium levels, a result confirming previous reports that low regular sodium levels increase cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.

The study authors admitted even though the data they had tracked participants for decades, their findings still didn’t establish a clear-cut causal link between serum sodium levels and specific health outcomes. 

Even as further studies may be needed to establish that, Dmitrieva is categorical that patients whose serum sodium is 142 mEq/L or higher should have their fluid intake evaluated.