This Simple, Free Task Could 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.

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

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

Adults with sodium levels in the high end of the normal range were more likely to develop chronic conditions — such as heart and lung disease — than adults with serum sodium levels in the middle range.

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Serum sodium levels at the high end of normal were also associated with advanced biological aging, and an increased likelihood of dying at a young age.

In summarizing 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:

“Loss of body water is the most common factor that elevates serum sodium, which is why the results suggest that staying well hydrated may slow the aging process and prevent or delay chronic disease. “

The latest research builds on earlier findings by these scientists, which found evidence of a link between the high range 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 improved health. Thus, it cannot be said with certainty that proper hydration has the beneficial effects suggested by the research. More studies are needed to determine whether good hydration directly causes the benefits seen in studies.

However, staying hydrated is important for:

Regulating body temperature Lubricating joints Preventing infections Transporting nutrients to cells Proper functioning of organs

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

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

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

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