Aging is a natural process that we all experience, but researchers are constantly working to find ways to slow it down and improve overall health and longevity. A new study published in the Lancet has shed light on one potential factor that may contribute to both the acceleration of the aging process and the development of chronic health conditions: dehydration.
The study, which evaluated the relationship between normal to high sodium levels in the blood and the risk of premature death and chronic health conditions in middle-aged individuals, found that those with serum sodium levels of 142 millimoles per liter or higher were more likely to die younger or develop chronic diseases.
Sodium is an electrolyte that helps balance fluids in the body, and the serum sodium test is commonly used to determine a person's hydration status. Normal blood sodium levels are typically between 135-145 milliequivalents per liter, but the study found that levels above this range were associated with an increased risk of premature death and chronic health conditions.
While aging is not the only factor that can increase the risk of conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, osteoporosis, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease, there are other lifestyle-related factors that can also play a role.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that the risk of developing these conditions can be increased by excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, lack of physical activity, and poor diet. The findings of this study highlight the importance of staying hydrated in maintaining good health and potentially extending lifespan.
Previous rodent studies had found a link between water restriction and shorter lifespans, leading researchers to test the hypothesis that staying hydrated could slow down the aging process in humans. While more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between hydration and aging, these findings suggest that proactive self-care, including paying attention to hydration status, can be an important aspect of maintaining good health.