An RD explains the connection between water and aging

WWe all know that drinking water is good for us. It helps keep your skin radiant, gives you energy and aids in digestion. And because it does so many good things for your body, it also helps with healthy aging in general. Niti Patel, MS, RD, a dietitian from New York City, explains that drinking water and aging are linked.

“If you’re maintaining an active lifestyle, eating a variety of foods, and drinking plenty of water, you’ll be in optimal health,” says Patel. Water is in all of our cells, he says, and those cells need water to function efficiently. From lubricating your joints to pumping blood to your muscles, you need water to perform almost every bodily function.

Recent data from the CDC shows that between 2015 and 2018, the amount of water Americans consumed decreased with age. Water contributed 57 percent of total daily beverage consumption for adults ages 20 to 39, 50 percent among adults ages 40 to 59, and 47 percent among adults age 60 and older. Depending on your activity level and any chronic conditions, your water intake needs may decrease as you age. But also, as you age, you lose the ability to feel thirsty.

Why drinking water is an important part of healthy aging

“[Older people] sometimes you can lose that ability to say, ‘Oh wow, I really should have a sip of water, or I should eat something with a lot of liquid in it,'” says Patel. “I was caring for an elderly family member and I always had to be very forceful, say, ‘Okay, let’s have a glass of water now. Okay, let’s drink some water. That’s something you have to do as you get older.”

Additionally, dehydration is a common but often overlooked problem for older people. Naturally, your body retains less water than the body of young people. And symptoms of dehydration — dry mouth, fatigue, dizziness and muscle cramps — can often be attributed to other problems or medication side effects, explains the Cleveland Clinic.

How to drink more water as you age

To try to get around an inevitable part of aging, you can establish good water habits when you’re young. Although you won’t feel thirsty in the same way, if you’re used to drinking water regularly and eating water-rich foods, it may not be that hard to maintain as you age.

Patel says one thing to try is to start drinking warm lemon water right when you wake up. “Getting into the habit of drinking warm water with a dash of lemon or lime, or even just warm water in general, is great. You’ll feel a difference because all night long you’re dehydrated because you’re not drinking anything.” ,” she says. “Now you are drinking this glass of warm water and you can feel it nourishing your body. Like a withered flower, you can feel yourself rising again.”

Additionally, Patel recommends getting into the habit of always having water nearby. “Do not wait to be thirsty [to drink water,]she says. “It’s always good to have the practice of sipping or drinking water or whatever beverage is good for you throughout the day. Try to add fluids throughout the day. And liquids could be chewed like cucumbers and hummus because cucumbers are a great source of water.”

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