We know now, more than ever, how important it is to stay hydrated. Getting enough H2O is crucial in helping us maintain good health physically and even mentally. Drinking water helps to maintain the balance of bodily fluids, stimulates muscles, promotes healthy digestion, improves our kidney function and makes our skin look great. It also protects our organs and tissues, lubricates our joints and carries both nutrients and oxygen to our cells.
Given all of the benefits of water, it should come as no surprise that a recent study linked hydration to living a longer life. According to a National Institutes of Health study published in eBioMedicine, adults who stay well-hydrated appear to be healthier, develop fewer chronic conditions such as heart and lung disease, and live longer compared to those who may not get sufficient fluids. The research is based on longitudinal assessments, spanning about 25-30 years, from more than 11,000 adults who participated in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Researchers found that adults with higher levels of normal serum sodium ranges – which increase as fluid levels go down – were more likely to show signs of advanced biological aging. They also had a greater chance of dying prematurely.
Previous studies have touted the positive effects of water because, after all, water makes up around 60% of our body’s weight. It’s our body’s principal chemical component. While experts universally agree that staying hydrated is extremely important, the amount of water which a person needs per day is up for debate. It can also change over time. Some say that five to six cups of water per day is adequate, while others suggest that the figure is closer to nine. Whatever way you look at it, you need to consume sufficient and other nutritional liquids throughout the day to not feel thirsty and ensure that you stay hydrated. A study published in the journal Science in December of last year showed that the amount water which you need changes over your lifetime. In general, our water needs peak between the ages of 20 and 50 and then decline in parallel with the slowing down of our metabolisms. That’s because the amount of water which you need is partly dependent on your metabolism and how many calories you burn.
There are two other important factors to determine your water needs: Climate and whether you lead a sedentary lifestyle. People who live in hotter climates and engage in more physical activity have higher levels of water turnover and will therefore need greater hydration to replenish the increased loss. This becomes especially alarming when we consider what global warming is doing to our planet – as temperatures rise worldwide, even slightly, the need for water will become that much more critical. And when two billion people across the globe currently have limited or inadequate access to clean water (The Washington Post), this becomes even more worrisome. Also, if you’re a less active person, you wouldn’t require as much water as someone who is constantly moving, exercising, etc.
So, go refill that water bottle! It could help you live a longer, healthier life.