Lemon water is all the rage these days.
Many restaurants serve it routinely, and some people start their day with lemon water instead of coffee or tea. There’s no doubt lemons are delicious, but does adding them to water make you healthier?
Much of the evidence supporting lemon water’s health benefits is anecdotal. Little scientific research has been done specifically on lemon water, but research exists on the benefits of lemon and water separately.
Here are seven ways your body may benefit from lemon water.
1. It promotes hydration
According to the Food and Nutrition Board, general guidelines say that women should get at least 91 ounces per day and men should get at least 125 ounces. This includes water from food and drinks.
Water is the best beverage for hydration, but some people don’t like the taste of it on its own. Adding lemon enhances water’s flavor, which may help you drink more.
2. It’s a good source of vitamin C
Citrus fruits like lemons are high in vitamin C, a primary antioxidant that helps protect cells from damaging free radicals. You’ve probably heard that vitamin C may help prevent or limit the duration of the common cold in some people, but studies are conflicting.
Vitamin C may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, and lower blood pressure.
While lemons don’t top the list of citrus fruits high in vitamin C, they’re still a good source. According to the United States Department of AgricultureTrusted Source, the juice of one lemon provides about 18.6 milligrams of vitamin C. The recommended daily amount for adults is 65 to 90 milligrams.
3. It supports weight loss
Research has shown that polyphenol antioxidants found in lemons significantly reduce weight gain in mice that are overfed in order to induce obesity.
In these mice studies, the antioxidant compounds also offset the negative effects on blood glucose levels and improved insulin resistance, the two main factors in the development of type 2 diabetes.
While the same results need to be proven in humans, anecdotal evidence is strong that lemon water supports weight loss. Whether this is due to people simply drinking more water and feeling full or the lemon juice itself is unclear.
4. It improves your skin quality
Vitamin C found in lemons may help reduce skin wrinkling, dry skin from aging, and damage from the sun. How water improves skin is controversial, but one thing is certain. If your skin loses moisture, it becomes dry and prone to wrinkles. A 2016 laboratory study showed that a citrus-based drink helped prevent the development of wrinkles in hairless mice.
5. It aids digestion
Some people drink lemon water as a daily morning laxative to help prevent constipation. Drinking warm or hot lemon water when you wake up may help get your digestive system moving.
Ayurvedic medicine says the sour lemon taste helps stimulate your “Agni.” In ayurvedic medicine, a strong agni jump-starts the digestive system, allowing you to digest food more easily and helping to prevent the buildup of toxins.
6. It freshens breath
Have you ever rubbed a lemon on your hands to get rid of the smell of garlic or some other strong odor? The same folk remedy may apply to bad breath caused by eating foods with strong smells such as garlic, onions, or fish.
You might avoid bad breath by drinking a glass of lemon water after meals and first thing in the morning. Lemon is thought to stimulate saliva and water also helps prevent a dry mouth, which can lead to bad breath caused by bacteria.
7. It helps prevent kidney stones
The citric acid in lemons may help prevent kidney stones. Citrate, a component of citric acid, paradoxically makes urine less acidic and may even break up small stones. Drinking lemon water not only gets you citrate, but also the water you need to help prevent or flush out stones.
How to make lemon water
In order to reap any health benefits of lemon water, you need drink it consistently, and you need more than just a single wedge of lemon in your mug.
When making lemon water, always use fresh lemons rather than artificial lemon from a bottle.
To make lemon water, squeeze half a lemon into 8 ounces of warm or cold water. To make the drink as healthy as possible, use filtered water and organic lemons.
Infuse more flavor or add a health boost to lemon water by adding:
- a few springs of mint
- a teaspoon of maple syrup or raw honey
- a slice of fresh ginger
- a dash of cinnamon
- a sprinkle of turmeric
You can also add slices of other fresh citrus fruits such as limes and oranges, or cucumber slices. Always wash the produce well before slicing and using.
Having lemon ice cubes on hand is a great way to add lemon to your water fast. Simply squeeze fresh lemon juice into ice cube trays and freeze. Drop a few cubes into a glass of cold or hot water as needed.
You can start your morning with a mug of warm lemon water, and keep a pitcher of water infused with a few sliced lemons in your refrigerator to drink throughout the day.
Side effects of lemon water
Lemon water is generally safe to drink, but there are a few potential side effects to be aware of.
Lemon contains citric acid, which may erode tooth enamel. To limit the risk, drink lemon water through a straw, and rinse your mouth with plain water afterward.
When it comes to heartburn, lemon water can go either way. The citric acid may cause heartburn in some people. Others experience relief from heartburn, as lemon juice becomes alkaline, reducing acidity indigestion. Only experimenting can tell its effect on you.
Some people report more frequent trips to the bathroom when drinking lemon water. Although vitamin C is often believed to be a diuretic, something that increases the amount of urine you produce, the evidence doesn’t show that vitamin C from natural sources like lemons has diuretic effects.
If you experience the need for extra bathroom breaks while drinking lemon water, it’s more than likely caused by increased water intake.
Research shows lemon water has many potential health benefits. Aside from those, adding lemon to your water may help you drink more throughout the day and keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated is critical to good health, so lemon water is pretty much a win-win.