Well-hydrated adults appear to live longer and age more healthily than those who do not consume sufficient fluids, a new study from the National Institutes of Health has found.

Data came from participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Investigators analyzed data from five doctor’s visits, starting when participants were in their 50s and continuing until ages 70 through 90. Links were analyzed between blood serum sodium levels and various health indicators such as systolic blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. 

Signs of underhydration

The amount of sodium in blood serum is a marker of hydration. Serum sodium levels go up when fluid intake is low and down when fluid consumption rises. When compared to their well-hydrated peers, participants were more likely to have chronic conditions and show signs of advanced biological aging when their serum sodium levels indicated underhydration. Poorly hydrated adults were also more likely to die at a younger age than their well-hydrated peers, reported the authors, of the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute in Bethesda, MD.

In an earlier study, the scientists also found links between poor hydration and an increased risk for heart failure. 

“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life,” Natalia Dmitrieva, PhD, said.

She and her colleagues cited other evidence showing that half of people worldwide fail to meet water intake recommendations of at least six cups per day. 

Fluid intake evaluation

Although the results don’t prove causation, people whose serum sodium is 142 mEq/L or higher (showing signs of poor hydration) “would benefit from evaluation of their fluid intake,” Dmitrieva said in a statement. 

Most people can safely increase their fluid intake by drinking water and other fluids and by consuming foods with high water content. The National Academies of Medicine recommends that most women consume about six to nine cups of fluids daily and men consume eight to 12 cups.

Full findings were published in eBioMedicine.

Related articles:

Factors that put seniors at risk for dehydration revealed in study

Dehydration plagues nursing home residents with COVID in facility study