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Not drinking enough water could increase risk of death by 20 percent, new study finds

Jake Massey

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| Last updated 

Not drinking enough water could increase risk of death by 20 percent, new study finds

Not drinking enough water could increase chances of death by 20 percent, a new study has suggested.

We all know that maintaining hydration is important in maintaining daily bodily function and optimising performance, but the results of new research indicates that hydration levels could also have a huge impact on long-term health.

Adults who stay well-hydrated appear to be healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions, such as heart and lung disease, and live longer than those who may not get sufficient fluids, according to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study published in eBioMedicine.

Taking on plenty of water could be more beneficial than we thought. Credit: Tetra Images, LLC / Alamy Stock Photo
Taking on plenty of water could be more beneficial than we thought. Credit: Tetra Images, LLC / Alamy Stock Photo

Using health data gathered from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period, researchers analysed links between serum sodium levels – which go up when fluid intake goes down – and various indicators of health.

They found that adults with serum sodium levels at the higher end of a normal range were more likely to develop chronic conditions and show signs of advanced biological ageing than those with serum sodium levels in the medium ranges.

Adults with higher levels were also more likely to die at a younger age.

"The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down ageing and prolong a disease-free life," said Natalia Dmitrieva, a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), part of NIH.

Researchers assessed information study participants shared during five medical visits – the first two when they were in their 50s, and the last when they were between ages 70-90.

They then evaluated how serum sodium levels correlated with biological ageing, which was assessed through 15 health markers.

This included factors, such as systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, which provided insight about how well each person's cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, renal, and immune system was functioning.

They found that adults with higher levels of normal serum sodium – with normal ranges falling between 135-146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) – were more likely to show signs of faster biological ageing.

This was based on indictors like metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function, and inflammation.

Be like this guy. Credit: YAY Media AS / Alamy Stock Photo
Be like this guy. Credit: YAY Media AS / Alamy Stock Photo

Adults with serum sodium levels above 142 mEq/L had up to a 64 percent increased associated risk for developing chronic diseases like heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation and peripheral artery disease, as well as chronic lung disease, diabetes, and dementia. They were also 20 percent more likely to die prematurely.

While the study doesn't prove a causal effect, it is worth ensuring you're taking on enough fluids.

"People whose serum sodium is 142 mEq/L or higher would benefit from evaluation of their fluid intake," Dmitrieva said.

"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."

Featured Image Credit: MBI/Andriy Popov/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Health, Science

Jake Massey
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