- Serum sodium levels above 142 in middle age may put you at increased risk of being "biologically older."
- Water isn't the only way to stay hydrated.
- Getting enough electrolytes in your diet is crucial and can be helped with supplements.
We know a healthy lifestyle is important for warding off disease and having a better quality of life as we get older. But what if there was one easy diet change you could make to actually slow down the aging process? A study conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests that proper hydration may play a key role in doing just that.
A Look At The Study
The aim of the study, published in eBioMedicine in January 2023, was to find preventive measures that could slow the aging process. According to researchers, lifelong water restriction in mice actually decreases their lifespan and contributes to degenerative changes. So in this study, researchers tested the hypothesis that optimal hydration in humans could actually slow down the aging process.
“It is known that some people age faster than others, some people live into old age disease-free, while others develop age-related chronic diseases,” the study’s background reads. “With a rapidly aging population and an emerging chronic diseases epidemic, finding mechanisms and implementing preventive measures that could slow down the aging process has become a new challenge for biomedical research and public health.”
Researchers used data from an ongoing prospective cohort study titled Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC). From 1987 to 1989, 15,792 men and women between the ages of 45 and 66 from four different U.S. communities enrolled in the ARIC study and were followed up with for more than 25 years.
Using serum sodium as a proxy for hydration habits, the researchers calculated participants’ biological ages. As opposed to chronological age, biological age is calculated using factors like eating habits, lifestyle, blood sugar levels, and other biomarkers to approximate of how much life one likely has left. In addition to this, researchers also assessed chronic disease and premature mortality risks to estimate the relative speed of aging.
Serum sodium levels are used to assess the amount of sodium in the blood. The less hydrated you are, the higher your levels, with a normal range being 135 to 145 millimoles per liter (mmol/L).
However, after analyzing the data, the study found that middle-aged people with serum sodium levels above 142 have an increased risk of being biologically older, developing chronic diseases, and dying earlier. Consequently, staying hydrated and thereby maintaining lower serum sodium levels may help extend your life and keep you feeling younger for longer.
We should point out, though, that researchers also said “intervention studies are needed to confirm the link between hydration and aging.” Still, these initial findings could help healthcare providers identify at-risk patients and work on plans to address hydration.
Hydration Isn’t Just About Drinking More Water
As we’ve explained previously, although water consumption is obviously very important to one’s overall hydration levels, there’s a little more to it than that.
Your body’s hydration is maintained by electrolytes, which include potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, and chloride, which most water will contain in trace amounts. But if you drink too much water, you run the risk of completely flushing those vital minerals out of your system. If you aren’t eating a balanced diet filled with electrolyte-rich fruits and veggies, the more water you drink, the thirstier you’ll become.
Ultimately, proper hydration levels are key. Electrolyte powders and mineral drops can boost those levels and help you feel more hydrated. You can also get your water intake from coffee, tea, the food you eat, and even low-alcohol beer.
If you’re not getting them from your diet alone, you can replenish essential minerals in your body by adding highly-concentrated drops like these to filtered drinking water. With more than 72 ionic trace minerals, these drops will help support vital functions in the body, restore pH balance, and regulate bowel function, sleep, and mood.
Trace Minerals recommends taking 10 drops daily for the first three days, then gradually increasing your serving to eventually take roughly ½ a teaspoon once or twice a day. All-natural with low sodium and no added preservatives or sweeteners, you can feel good about what you’re putting in your body.
Available in 12 different flavors (including Appletini and Coconut Piña Colada), this electrolyte powder from Ultima will satisfy your taste buds while keeping you hydrated. Just dissolve one scoop in 16 ounces of water to give your body the nutrients it needs with no calories, sugar, or carbs. This powder works especially well to make drinking water more appealing and to help you restore your body after working out.