Good Hydration May be a Key to Longevity

July 16, 2023

Good Hydration May Be a Longevity Key

You are likely sick of ads for electrolyte drinks, filled with sugars, for rehydrating yourself. Beautiful/handsome sweaty young athletes swilling down bottles of sugar water, made from high fructose corn syrup and a shake of salt just don't do it for me. I tend to turn off to those ads.

The concept of hydration though, is interesting. The core idea is that every membrane in your body has to move various nutrients across the membrane against a gradient of some sort. For example, sodium is the most common electrolyte in your blood. It should be at 135-140. Inside the cell, it is around 5. Potassium is the reverse. It is only 3.5-4.5 in the blood, but 140-150 inside most cells. That makes potassium in the blood only 2% of your body's total. Those gradients take energy to maintain.

When you are dehydrated, the amount of energy it takes to maintain those gradients becomes greater. It's not just the electrolytes that matter. You have to excrete all sorts of end products of metabolism, (cellular garbage), and it you make the gradient higher for that excretion, your cells start living with a bit more garbage. Makes sense that you get into trouble for that.

The difficulty comes in studying that concept. It's a devil to pin down which of 100,000 breakdown products of metabolism you need to study when the difference between good and bad is just a few milliequivalents.

So, this week's study from the Lancet decided to just look at sodium in folks being followed for 25 years in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. They had 15,752 middle aged people with 25 years of follow-up. Good, solid, big study.

What they found was that those with a sodium >142 mmol/l were associated with a 39% increased risk to develop chronic diseases, and >144 mmol/l with 21% elevated risk of premature mortality. People with serum sodium >142 mmol/l had up to 50% higher odds to be older than their chronological age. A higher biological age was associated with a 70% increased risk of chronic diseases and a 59% increased premature mortality. Goodness. Those are big numbers. 

We don't know whether the chicken or the egg comes first. Can we reverse it with an intervention of hydration? Can we get your sodium down below 142 meq? Will that result in us living longer? Did the disease we already have come first? We have always brushed off the sodium level as "within normal limits" if it was 145. This brings a whole new field of scrutiny to bear.

Can we rehydrate ourselves? Well yes, but it's hard to drink and hang onto water if you drink just plain water. What happens if you add a wee bit of flavor to it? And some electrolytes? Still don't hang onto the fluids very well. So, let's sit down 72 young men with no medical problems and give them 1 liter of 13 different fluids. Guess which one comes out on top for retaining the most fluid? Milk! Cola, diet cola, hot tea, iced tea, coffee, lager, orange juice, sparkling water, and sports drinks were no different than water. Dioralyte from Sanofi was almost as good as milk. Skim milk was as good as full fat. Hmm.

A tiny bit of protein appears to add a rehydration benefit. Glutamine and alanine are the amino acids that dissolve the easiest. The explosion of commercial products with a few amino acids in them is beyond description. It's hard to find the actual science for all the "Sponsored Content" on Google.

Dr. Seeds, of the International Peptide Society, might be the most forward-looking body to craft scientifically based methods of cellular health. Here is their formula.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe: 

1. Fill a half-gallon or gallon jug, over-sized water bottle, or other large container with purified water. 

2. Then add: 

o One Scoop of each of these four amino acids to create the best synergistic effect: 

 L-glycine -3 grams 

 L-Glutamine- 5 grams (slowly increase over a few weeks to 15-20 grams) 

 L-alanine -4 grams 

 Creatine- 5 grams (made up of methionine, arginine, and glycine) 

3. A shot (¼ cup) of coconut water ( coconut water is a great, sweet-tasting electrolyte without added sugar!) 

4. A squeeze of lemon for taste

www.What will Work for me? Well, I just bought all four of those amino acids off of Bulk where you can get 250 grams of any amino acid for a reasonable cost. I don't want to add any sugar with fructose in it so I added a touch of Trehalose, a molecule made of two glucose hooked together with an unusual link, so it digests much slower. It ends up making glucose, which your body can use as energy, just much slower. And it's sweet. The drink didn't taste too bad. I'm going to give it a try on my biking.

References:Lancet, Kidney Disease, Amer Jr Clin Nutr., IOP Science.

Pop Quiz 

1. Drinking extra water helps you live longer. T or F.                        Answer. False. Water by itself doesn't seem to do it 

2. What is the best liquid to help you hang onto total water.                       Answer. Milk, or many water with some extra amino acids. 

3. If my serum sodium is above what number, should I be concerned about risk for chronic disease?          Answer: 142 

4. Why should I be concerned?                      Answer. When you're dry, every single cell in your body has to work harder to maintain itself. Death by a thousand cut

5. Where can I find a good commercial rehydration formula?                          Answer: Spare me. There are thousands of them. Be picky and find one you like. Avoid fructose. Make sure there are some amino acids in them. Or drink skim milk.