Four ways to improve hydration, as study links low water consumption to early ageing

Doctor in UAE shares tips to drink healthier after researchers find high sodium intake may cause chronic disease

Carrying a refillable water bottle at all times can help with staying hydrated. Photo: Bluewater Sweden / Unsplash
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Everyone knows staying hydrated is important, but a new study is proving just how crucial it really is.

Data collected over 25 years from the US government body National Institutes of Health revealed that adults who aren’t staying properly hydrated may age faster, are more likely to face chronic diseases and may die younger.

The results, published on Monday, collected data from more than 15,000 adults in the US who attended their first medical visits between the ages of 45 and 66, and then returned later at ages 70 to 90.

“The results suggest that proper hydration may slow down ageing and prolong a disease-free life,” said the study's author Natalia Dmitrieva, a researcher at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Sodium levels as an indicator

The researchers of the peer-reviewed study looked at the sodium levels in the blood as a proxy for hydration because high levels of sodium indicate that enough water is not being consumed.

Normal levels of blood-sodium concentrations are between 135 to 146 millimoles per litre.

The findings concluded that those who had more than 142 millimoles of serum sodium had a 39 per cent higher risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart failure, strokes, diabetes and dementia.

Those with 144 millimoles had up to 50 per cent higher chance of showing signs of physical ageing. They also had a 21 per cent increased risk of premature death.

Those whose serum sodium levels were between 138 and 140 millimoles had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.

The authors said, while more research is needed to determine whether good hydration can help slow ageing, prevent disease or lead to a longer life, those with high levels of sodium in their blood should drink more water.

Drink it in

The National chatted to Dr Salman Abdul Bari, head of accident and emergency at RAK Hospital, who said everyone needs to be aware of the significance of hydration. “It improves digestion and helps in detoxification, decreases joint pains, helps in weight loss and management, expands energy levels, prevents kidney stones and more,” says Bari.

Dr Salman Abdul Bari recommends drinking up to 10 glasses of water a day. Photo: RAK Hospital

Bari says that water intake depends on gender, body weight, life stage and activity level. However, the average desired consumption is 2.5 to 3.5 litres or eight to 10 glasses per day. Although that can be daunting for some people, he shares some tips on how to increase water intake.

1. Research suggests behavioural interventions such as verbal prompting by colleagues, family members and friends help increase water intake.

2. Limit your alcohol intake, and increase the choice and availability of healthy beverages.

3. Carry a refillable bottle to work and keep a mug by your bedside..

4. Consume foods with high water content such as cucumber, watermelon, tomatoes and strawberries.

Explaining the science behind why hydration plays such a key role in the functioning and survival of the human body, Bari says: “Water constitutes 60 per cent of our body weight, while the muscles and brain are about 70 per cent water. Vital organs like the kidneys and heart require fluids for regulating the heart rate, blood pressure and electrolytes.”

However, he adds while the study seems promising, more research is needed because “there is a lack of information on water consumption by the participants in this particular study”.

Updated: January 05, 2023, 7:07 AM