Live longer and slow down ageing by drinking enough fluids every day

Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer

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Dr Natalia Dmitrieva, of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) – the co-author of the study – based the findings on 1,255 people who were tracked for 30 years. Her team analysed data from the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) study involving people from across the US. The researchers assessed information participants shared during five medical visits – the first two when they were in their 50s and the last when they were aged 70 to 90.

Blood samples showed those with high amounts of sodium were more prone to chronic conditions and biological ageing.

Dr Dmitrieva elaborated: “Decreased body water content is the most common factor that increases serum sodium.”

People with higher blood sodium levels were also more likely to die younger than counterparts who had blood sodium levels in the medium range.

Biological ageing was measured via 15 markers, including blood pressure, cholesterol, and glucose levels.

This shed light on cardiovascular, respiratory, metabolic, kidney and immune system health.

Other factors, such as age, race, gender, smoking history and hypertension were taken into account when analysing the data.

Dr Dmitrieva said: “The results suggest proper hydration may slow down ageing and prolong a disease-free life.”

Participants who had sodium readings of 144mEq/L or above were 50 percent more likely to be biologically older than their chronological age.

A sodium reading above 142mEq/L increased the likelihood of chronic conditions by 64 percent.

Examples of chronic conditions included heart failure, stroke, atrial fibrillation and peripheral artery disease, lung disease, diabetes and dementia.

Conversely, peers with sodium levels between 138-140mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing these illnesses.

Dr Dmitrieva said: “People whose serum sodium is 142mEq/L or higher would benefit from evaluation of their fluid intake.”

Fluid intake can be increased by consuming more water and juices, and eating more fruits and vegetables that have a high water content.

The National Academies of Medicine suggests women consume six to nine glasses (1.5 to 2.2 litres) of fluids daily and for men, eight to 12 glasses (two to three litres). 

Co-author Dr Manfred Boehm said: “The goal is to ensure patients are taking in enough fluids, while assessing factors, like medications, that may lead to fluid loss.

“Doctors may also need to defer to a patient’s current treatment plan, such as limiting fluid intake for heart failure.”

The NHS lists medications that could lead to fluid loss, such as:

  • ACE inhibitors
  • Diuretics
  • Flozins (for diabetes)
  • ARBs (for high blood pressure)
  • Metformin (for diabetes)
  • NSAIDs (pain killers).

Do speak to a pharmacist or your doctor if you are concerned about the dehydrating effects of any medication that you are currently taking.

A key recommendation from the NHS is to drink “at least” seven 200ml cups per day in order to help prevent dehydration.

Dr Natalia Dmitrieva and her team’s research study is published in the journal eBioMedicine.

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