Poor Hydration Linked To Faster Ageing, Chronic Diseases And Early Death: Study

Poor Hydration Linked To Faster Ageing, Chronic Diseases And Early Death: Study
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6 January 2023
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Adults who aren't sufficiently hydrated may age faster, face a higher risk of chronic diseases and be more likely to die younger than those who stay well-hydrated, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

The results are based on health data gathered from more than 11,000 adults over a 30-year period. As per the study, published on Monday, the participants attended their first medical visits at ages 45 to 66, then returned for follow-ups at ages 70 to 90. 

The researchers looked at levels of sodium in the participants' blood as a proxy for hydration, because higher concentrations are a sign that they most likely weren't consuming enough fluids. They found that the participants with high-blood sodium levels aged faster physiologically than those with lower levels, which was reflected in health markers associated with ageing, like high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. 

As per the study, all the participants had blood-sodium concentrations considered to be within the normal range - 135 to 146 millimoles per litre. However, the findings suggested that people with levels at the higher end of that normal range - above 144 millimoles per litre - were 50 percent more likely to show signs of physical ageing beyond what would be expected for their years compared to people with lower blood sodium levels. Researchers noted that these participants also had a roughly 20 percent increased risk of premature death. 

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Moreover, the participants with higher faster-ageing risk, or people with blood-sodium levels above 142 millimoles per litre, also had a 64 percent higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation, peripheral artery disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes and dementia. 

"The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down ageing and prolong a disease-free life," study author Natalia Dmitrieva, a researcher at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, said in the study. "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 ageing process and prevent or delay chronic disease," she added. 

The research does not prove that drinking water will reduce ageing, but it does suggest that people with higher levels of sodium in their blood are more likely "to be biologically older, develop chronic disease and die at a younger age". It also stated that dehydration is one of the biggest factors that increase blood-sodium levels. 

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