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Hydration and good health may go hand in hand as we age

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Want to live a longer and healthier life? Stay well-hydrated, say researchers from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Using health data collected from more than 11,000 adults over a 30-year period, the researchers looked at links between serum sodium levels – which increase when fluid intake decreases – and various indicators of health.

They found that people 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 – and also more likely to die at a younger age.

Specifically, the people whose sodium level were above the normal range during middle age had a 64% increased risk of developing chronic diseases, including heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, diabetes and dementia.

When it comes to faster biological aging – which was based on indictors such as metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function, and inflammation – the participants with the highest normal levels of serum sodium were 50% more likely to be biologically older than their chronological age, compared with those with lower normal levels. A higher biological age, in turn, is linked to increased risks of chronic disease and early death. 

 

The researchers say most adults can safely increase their fluid intake with more water, juices, and fruits and vegetables with high water content. The National Academies of Medicine recommends that women drink six to nine cups of fluids a day, while men should consume eight to 12.

In addition, the researchers recommend consulting a health care professional about specific health conditions and assess factors, such as medications, that may contribute to fluid loss.

The study was published online in the journal eBioMedicine.

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