WTF Fun Facts 13172 – Drinking Water and Aging

We’ve been given a lot of contradictory advice about drinking water over the decades. Drink eight glasses of water. Don’t drink eight glasses of water. Drink only when you’re thirsty. Drink as much water as possible. However, too much water can kill you. Well, according to a new study from the National Institutes of Health, it turns out drinking water and aging are related.

The “anti-aging” benefits of drinking water

There’s nothing wrong with aging, of course. We should all be so lucky to be able to do it. But in this case, we’re referring to the diseases and bodily degeneration that accompany age. According to CBS News, the study shows that drinking enough water is “associated with a significantly lower risk of developing chronic diseases, dying early, or being biologically older than your chronological age…”

Study author Natalia Dmitrieva from the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Regenerative Medicine at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute said in a news release.”The results suggest proper hydration may slow down aging and prolong a disease-free life.”

You might be skeptical about that. But when you look at all of the studies on (clean) water consumption, it’s pretty obvious that it can help deliver some health benefits under the right circumstances.

How was the study performed?

Dmitrieva and her lab gathered an impressive amount of data from 11,255 adults over a 30-year period. They compared the subjects’ serum sodium levels (something that reliably goes up when a person doesn’t drink adequate water to meet their body’s needs) to 15 health indicators. These included things like blood pressure, respiratory and immune functioning, blood sugar, cholesterol, etc.

And you can imagine what they found. Adults with high serum sodium levels were more likely to develop chronic diseases. They were also more likely to die younger than those with low serum sodium levels (and therefore, higher water intake).

This helps strengthen the results of a 2022 study that linked poor water intake to heart disease.

How does water affect aging?

Data was gathered from the subjects during five medical visits, two when they were in their 50s and 60s and the last between the age of 70 and 90. They also used relatively healthy subjects who did not already have chronic high serum sodium levels or other factors that could affect results, like obesity. They also adjusted for things like race, sex, and smoking status, since those can affect someone’s overall lifespan.

According to the NIH, they found:

“They found that adults with higher levels of normal serum sodium – with normal ranges falling between 135-146 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L) – were more likely to show signs of faster biological aging. This was based on indicators like metabolic and cardiovascular health, lung function, and inflammation...Adults with serum sodium levels between 138-140 mEq/L had the lowest risk of developing chronic disease.”

Correlation and causation

Water intake, health, and aging are correlated in these studies. There appears to be a relationship between them. But you know what they say – correlation does not equal causation. That means there can be other factors involved, and that water intake does not immediately affect any of these disease or aging outcomes.

Of course, maybe water intake is the key. But that’s not something the study can prove. For that, we’ll need a lot more evidence and research into how our bodies develop or stave off specific diseases.

But in the meantime, this information can help guide our choices. Since more than half of adults in the U.S. don’t drink enough water, maybe it’s time to incorporate more into your day.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Drinking lots of water can help reduce the effects of aging” — CBS News

WTF Fun Fact 13022 – The World’s Fresh Water

Seventy-one percent of the Earth is covered in water, but that doesn’t mean we can use it all. But what percent of the world’s water is fresh (and therefore useable for humans to ingest)? Just 2.55 – and much of that is trapped in glaciers. Only 0.007% is available to us for use. The rest is saline and ocean-based. Interestingly, that’s roughly the same amount of freshwater that has always existed on Earth.

The world’s freshwater

Water is a valuable resource. If you’ve ever been without fresh water, even for a short time, you probably know exactly how panic-inducing a lack of fresh water can be. But for many people, fresh water is something we’ve always had and never really questioned. Those are the lucky minority.

It’s a bit startling to realize that the Earth’s freshwater resources have been around for hundreds of millions of years. What we drink has been recycled many, many times, whether it’s via the atmosphere or through our drinking water cups (and we’ll leave you to figure out how that works and then appreciate your local water treatment facility on your own).

Because we have very limited means of creating potable water out of saltwater through desalinization technology, it’s very hard to make enough new freshwater to sustain more humans. And that’s bad news when you think about how much water goes into things we enjoy – NatGeo says “the average hamburger takes 2,400 liters, or 630 gallons, of water to produce.

Fresh water keeps us alive

An increasingly large human population means we will need more water for hygiene, cooking, and drinking.

According to National Geographic (cited below): “Water scarcity is an abstract concept to many and a stark reality for others. It is the result of myriad environmental, political, economic, and social forces.” It has always been this way – people have fought wars over access to freshwater supplies for thousands of years.

“Due to geography, climate, engineering, regulation, and competition for resources, some regions seem relatively flush with freshwater, while others face drought and debilitating pollution. In much of the developing world, clean water is either hard to come by or a commodity that requires laborious work or significant currency to obtain,” they note.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Freshwater Crisis” — National Geographic