Staying Hydrated Could Reduce Your Heart Disease Risk, According to New Research
Staying hydrated throughout the day is key to boosting your overall health—it can help you feel happier and more productive, support your metabolism and help keep your skin healthy and elastic. That's why you'll want to make sure you're drinking water each day (and maybe even snacking on fruits like cucumber and watermelon that are more than 90% water).
Getting your fill of fluids each day can also lighten the burden on your heart. Being dehydrated lowers your blood volume, and as a result, your heart ends up working harder to pump blood through your system. This excess strain on your heart over time can cause damage. Now a new study published in the European Heart Journal suggests that staying hydrated won't just help your heart on a day-to-day basis—it could have a long-lasting helpful effect.
The study, which included more than 11,000 middle-aged adults, measured the participants' level of hydration using serum (or blood) sodium levels. Serum sodium increases as you become dehydrated, which is caused by the sodium in your blood becoming more concentrated in the lower volume of blood.
The researchers concluded that people with a serum sodium level above 142 milliequivalents per liter are at a 54% higher risk for developing heart disease. That tracks with what we already know about sodium and your heart. While your body does need sodium, overdoing it— especially over a long period of time—can cause high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. And having heart disease can put you at risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.
But researchers suggest that staying hydrated, which can help you keep your serum sodium at a healthy level—and therefore your blood pressure at a healthy level—could help slow the changes to the heart that eventually lead to heart failure.
"Similar to reducing salt intake, drinking enough water and staying hydrated are ways to support our hearts and may help reduce long-term risks for heart disease," Natalia Dmitrieva, Ph.D., lead study author, said in a media release.
This study will need further research to confirm its findings, but there are plenty more reasons to aim for healthy hydration every day, from battling brain fog to preventing bad breath.
If you have a hard time motivating yourself to stay hydrated, we have some tips to help you get more excited about healthy hydration. Compared to still water, drinking sparkling water can help you stay just as hydrated—so grab a bottle of club soda or a can of LaCroix and some citrus slices for a drink that feels more like a treat. You could also try to get some of your water from eating veggies that are rich in water content, like cucumbers or strawberries. Make yourself a big salad full of iceberg lettuce, cukes, berries and all your favorite veggies for a hydrating lunch or dinner. Or serve something like our Watermelon, Cucumber & Feta Salad for a juicy side dish.
It's also possible to stay hydrated without just sticking to water all day. Drinks like orange juice, milk and tea can also help you stay hydrated, so don't feel bad for having your morning cup of caffeine before you reach for your water bottle.
Staying hydrated may lower your risk for heart failure over time, according to a study from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. While drinking enough water every day is a simple way to stay on top of your hydration, it's not the only way to make sure you're getting enough fluids. No matter how you choose to hydrate, staying on top of it has lots of health benefits you don't want to miss out on, though this study will need further research to confirm its findings.