This Simple, Free Action Can Help You Live Longer and Healthier

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Looking for a way to stay healthy, avoid chronic conditions and live longer? Try sipping some water.

Staying hydrated is associated with improving well-being in all those ways, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health.

NIH researchers looked at data from 30 years of research that included more than 11,000 adults and analyzed their serum sodium levels, which increase when fluid intake drops. Their findings were published in the scientific journal eBioMedicine.

The adults with sodium levels at the higher end of the normal range were more likely to develop chronic conditions — such as heart and lung disease — than adults who had serum sodium levels in the medium ranges.

Serum sodium levels at the higher end of normal also were linked to advanced biological aging, and an increased likelihood of dying at a younger age.

In a summary of the researchers findings, Natalia Dmitrieva, a study author and researcher in the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, says:

“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 aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease.”

The newest research builds on earlier findings from these scientists that found evidence of a link between higher ranges of normal serum sodium levels and an increased risk of heart failure.

The researchers noted that their findings do not prove a cause-and-effect relationship but rather an association between mid-range normal serum sodium levels and better health. Thus, it cannot be stated definitively that proper hydration has the beneficial effects suggested by the research. More study is needed to determine if good hydration directly causes the benefits observed in the study.

However, staying hydrated is important for:

  • Regulating body temperature
  • Keeping joints lubricated
  • Preventing infections
  • Delivering nutrients to cells
  • Keeping organs functioning properly

According to the NIH researchers, you can boost your fluid intake by drinking more water, juice and other beverages. Eating fruits and vegetables with a high water content also can help.

The National Academies of Medicine recommends that most women drink around 6 to 9 cups of fluids — between 1.5 and 2.2 liters total — daily.

Men should drink 8 to 12 cups — or 2 to 3 liters — daily.