The importance of staying hydrated is well known but the results of a 25-year study suggest that proper hydration may be even more beneficial than previously thought, with the potential to slow the aging process. Photo by priyanka98742/Pixabay
Jan. 2 (UPI) -- The importance of staying hydrated is well known but the results of a 25-year study suggest that proper hydration may be even more beneficial than previously thought, with the potential to slow the aging process.
The study released Monday by the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates that poor hydration can increase the occurrence of chronic health conditions and premature death.
The broad data pool was collected from some 11,000 adult subjects over the course of 25 years. Initial data was collected from the medical visits of 45- to 60-year-olds, then completed with their follow-up visits 25 years later.
Hydration levels were marked by the subjects' serum sodium levels as an indicator of their hydration habits. High concentrations of sodium indicate not maintaining ideal hydration habits, or drinking healthy fluids.
"Normal serum sodium range, defined as the interval that 95% of reference healthy population fall into, lies between 135 and 146 mmol/l," the report said.
The study found that a serum sodium level of 142 mmol/l or more is associated with a 39% greater risk of chronic illness. At this level, subjects were 50% more likely to have age markers that indicate they are older than their chronological age. This can include an increased occurrence of chronic illness or premature death. Levels above 144 mmol/l are linked to a 21% chance of premature death.
Likewise, sodium levels at lower than normal ranges were also linked to an increased likelihood of illness and death. Staying within the proper range of 138-142 mmol/l lowers the risk of chronic illness and premature death.
"Since decreased body water is the most common reason for increasing sodium concentration, these results suggest that for people whose serum sodium exceeds 142 mmol/l, consistently maintaining optimal hydration may slow down aging process," the findings said.
The study followed up on a study with mice that yielded a similar hypothesis. The authors noted the limitations of their findings, saying it would need to be confirmed by further studies.
"Since decreased hydration is one of the main factors that elevates serum sodium, the results are consistent with hypothesis that decreased hydration may accelerate aging," it said.
"However, interventional trials are needed to prove this link."