High Sodium Levels Linked to Increased Biological Aging, Drinking Enough Water May Help
People have long sought the secret to living a longer, healthier life, and researchers believe they have discovered part of the equation. It can be as simple as drinking enough water.
A new study published in the journal The Lancet eBioMedicine, reveals that people who stay properly hydrated are less likely to show signs of premature aging and chronic diseases.
Higher blood sodium levels are associated with older biological age
Researchers looked at health data collected over more than 25 years from nearly 16,000 adults between the ages of 45 and 66 from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study to analyze their serum sodium levels — the amount of sodium in the blood. theirs – as a proxy for how much water they drink regularly.
Data collection began in 1987, and the mean age of participants at the final assessment during the study period was 76 years.
The findings show that adults with serum sodium levels at the higher end of the normal range (135 to 146 milliequivalents per liter, or mEq/L) experienced worse health outcomes than those at the lower end of that range.
Participants with levels above 142 mEq/L experienced up to a 64 percent higher risk of chronic diseases including stroke, heart failure, peripheral artery disease, atrial fibrillation, chronic lung disease, diabetes and dementia.
They also had a 10 to 15 percent increased risk of being biologically older than their actual age, compared with adults whose levels were within 137 to 142 mEq/L.
Those with levels between 144.5 and 146 mEq/L showed a 21 percent increased risk of premature death. However, adults who maintained their serum sodium levels between 138 and 140 mEq/L showed the lowest risk of developing chronic diseases.
While these findings cannot prove that staying hydrated can reduce the risk of disease, the researchers did establish a link between water intake and long-term health.
“Reducing water content in the body is the most common factor that increases serum sodium, so the results suggest that staying well hydrated can slow the aging process and prevent or delay chronic diseases,” study author Natalia Dmitrieva, a researcher at National Heart. , the Lung and Blood Institute, said in a statement.
The authors also cited research that finds that about half of all people worldwide do not meet recommendations for total daily water intake, which typically starts at six cups or 1.5 liters.
“I think that [sodium] is one piece of the puzzle,” Dr. Jessica Zwerling, a neurologist affiliated with Montefiore Medical Center. She thought the study did a good job using sodium as an indicator of aging.
She noted that it is necessary to look at many other factors, such as hormones, inflammation and cytokines (signaling cells), that may also affect aging.
The findings suggest that it is important to keep serum sodium in an optimal range. The researchers found that health risks were also higher in people with low serum sodium. This is consistent with previous research that found increased mortality in healthy people with low serum sodium levels.
The findings of that study show that regardless of blood pressure status, lower-than-normal sodium levels are associated with more heart attacks, strokes, and death compared to average intake.
How much water we need depends on various factors
According to research published by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), adult women should drink about 2.2 liters of water per day and adult men should aim for approximately three liters.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to drink those exact amounts.
“There have been good studies looking at ranges in women and men, about two to two and a half liters per day,” Zwerling said. “But [only] 80 percent of that [water intake] comes from the drink.”
There is water content in the food we eat that matters in our daily intake. The recommendation may also be different depending on the health conditions we have or certain medications we take.
“Or if you have an acute infection, that may require drinking more water than the recommended amount,” Zwerling said.
You can drink a lot of water
Electrolytes, such as sodium, are vital minerals that act as charged particles to carry electrical current through cells. This electrical current is essential for nerve stimulation, muscle contraction and fluid regulation.
A deficiency can lead to a variety of undesirable symptoms such as lack of energy, extreme fatigue, muscle aches, irregular blood pressure and confusion. So maintaining a balance is essential to maintain overall health.
“Sodium plays one of the most important roles in the body,” said Beata Rydyger, a Los Angeles-based registered nutritionist and Zen Nutrients clinical nutrition advisor. “However, other electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium and calcium also play vital roles and thus require daily maintenance.”
While adequate daily hydration is essential for optimal health, drinking too much can pose health risks and even become life-threatening.
“The kidneys release approximately one liter of fluid per hour,” Rydyger explained. “Excessive water intake can lead to a condition known as hyponatremia (low sodium in the blood).
Drinking more than the kidneys can eliminate causes dilution of sodium, which is an essential electrolyte, and causes cells to swell and become inflamed.
Symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, nausea, vomiting and confusion – and in severe cases, seizures or death.
Certain lifestyle factors, such as exercise, can exacerbate this risk [by causing excessive thirst]Rydyger warned.
George Citroner is a health reporter for The Epoch Times.