Lemon water is often promoted as this amazing health tonic, one that can improve your energy levels, help you to detox, improve your skin, and much more. While lemon water doesn’t seem to cause harm, we can’t ignore the obvious question – is lemon water good for you?
On one hand, the answer must be yes. Water is essential throughout your body and staying hydrated helps to keep you on top form. Lemons have been linked to many benefits too, as have other citrus fruits.
There’s nothing more to the drink than that. So, there are no additives to worry about and no long ingredients list. Sounds fantastic, right?
Yet, while lemons and water are both healthy, can adding lemon juice to water really give you the powerful health benefits often linked to lemon water? That claim seems unlikely, so let’s take a look at what you can expect from lemon water.
Is Lemon Water Good For You?
- The Potential Benefits Of Lemon Water
- The Risks Of Lemon Water
- Does Lemon Water Help With Heartburn?
- Why Lemon Water Isn’t As Good As It Sounds
- Lemon Water Alternatives
- Final Thoughts
The Potential Benefits Of Lemon Water
The first benefit of lemon water is simple – it keeps you hydrated.
This isn’t so surprising, as lemon water is just water with some added lemon juice. The lemon juice provides extra flavor, giving you something more enjoyable than plain water.
This single feature could be reason enough to drink lemon water regularly, especially if you get bored with plain water. In fact, many of us do need more water than we’re currently drinking. If adding some lemon makes the water easier to drink, then why not?
Water has other benefits too, like helping to promote weight loss and improve digestion.
It’s Easy To Make
Lemon water is much less complicated than a smoothie or juicing fruits and vegetables yourself. It can be as simple as pouring a glass of water and squeezing some lemon juice into it.
If you don’t want to keep fresh lemons on hand the whole time, try juicing your lemons and then freezing the juice in an ice cream tray. Then when it’s time to make your lemon water, you just need to drop a couple of cubes into your drink.
Plus, because you’re only relying on water and lemon juice, lemon water is an inexpensive choice.
A Source Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is important as a nutrient and an antioxidant. It plays a variety of roles in your body, like increasing iron absorption, producing collagen, and helping with your immune system.
You get somewhere between 30% and 40% of your daily vitamin C intake from the juice of a full lemon. You’ll probably get less than that in your lemon water, as a whole lemon’s worth of juice in an 8-ounce glass of water might be a bit much.
Still, every little bit helps. Even if you’re just getting 10% of your vitamin C intake from lemon water, that’s 10% more than you had before.
May Prevent Kidney Stones
Citrus juice contains citric acid. This can help decrease the risk of kidney stones and may even break down kidney stones if they’re small enough.
That’s not all. Being dehydrated can notably increase your chance of getting kidney stones, so the water in lemon water also helps to protect you against kidney stones.
It’s Healthier Than Other Options
While there are countless drinks to choose from, few are as healthy as lemon water. Flavored water has some similar benefits, but most commercial products rely on artificial ingredients. Some use natural or artificial sweeteners, while others are loaded with sugar instead.
As convenient as they might be, processed foods and drinks are far from ideal. They contain more ingredients than you need and their effects on health are never clear.
Choosing something natural like water or lemon water is a logical way to improve health.
Getting into a lemon water habit isn’t difficult. You can start slowly, perhaps with a glass first thing in the morning. Try increasing the amount you drink as time goes on. You’ll probably find that you snack less and have fewer sugary beverages as a result.
It Improves Iron Absorption
The importance of iron can’t be understated. Yet, while the mineral is essential, many people are deficient in it. Citrus juice can help, as it improves iron absorption.
So, having a glass of lemon water with your meal might decrease your risk of anemia. This could be particularly important if some of your iron rich foods are plant-based, as iron from plant sources is more difficult to absorb.
Promotes Weight Loss
Lemon water can help with weight loss in a few ways. First, it’s a source of water, and drinking water regularly boosts weight loss. This isn’t surprising, as water is essential for keeping all of your body’s systems working well.
Plus, lemon water is much better than drinks with added sugar or artificial sweeteners and contains almost no calories. Even swapping out one glass of soda each day for a glass of lemon water could make the world of difference.
Drinks like lemon water also help because the liquid makes you feel full for a little while. This can help to prevent you from overeating.
One trick is to have a glass of lemon water while you eat and take little sips throughout your meal. Doing so should make you feel full faster. The process helps you to slow down and enjoy your food too.
May Help You To Detox
This claim is more controversial. Some bloggers suggest that lemon water helps to clear toxins out of your body, making you healthier, improving your immune system, and giving you better skin.
One mechanism for this effect is that lemon juice might help to promote enzyme production, which then makes your liver more effective, improving your body’s ability to get rid of toxins.
However, other writers suggest that our bodies handle toxins well on their own and that lemon water doesn’t have much effect.
Helps With Digestion
Regardless of whether lemon water actually detoxes you or not, it clearly helps with digestion.
Many people drink lemon water first thing in the morning and find that it has a laxative effect. Warm or even hot lemon water may have an even stronger effect on digestion.
The effect is sometimes associated with the sour taste. For example, ayurvedic medicine suggests that this sourness kicks your digestive system into gear and makes food digestion much easier.
Whether the sourness has benefits or not is highly debatable. You’ll often get similar effects by simply having a glass of water in the morning. Let’s not forget how starting the day with coffee gets people running to the bathroom too.
Still, it doesn’t matter whether the lemon or the water is the reason that lemon water helps with your digestion. Either way, the drink is beneficial.
May Improve Your Skin
Lemon water has two features that might help your skin –vitamin C and water. Vitamin C is thought to help in reducing skin wrinkling and making your skin less dry.
The relationship between water and skin is surprisingly debatable. Still, being dehydrated isn’t great for your health or your skin, so keeping up with your liquids is crucial.
It’s A Source Of Antioxidants
The use of lemon juice means that lemon water does contain some antioxidants. This could give it similar benefits to other antioxidant-containing foods and drinks, like berries and cocoa powder.
In particular, antioxidants are thought to help with your immune system, decrease disease risk, and perhaps even help you live longer.
Lemon water doesn’t contain all that much lemon juice, so the antioxidant benefits mightn’t be that dramatic. Still, you are getting some antioxidants. And, because there are so many types of antioxidants, the healthiest approach is to consume a variety of antioxidant foods and drinks regularly.
May Help With Mental Health
The scent of lemons can act as a mood booster and can help to calm you, potentially reducing depressive symptoms in the long term.
Lemon water is heavily diluted, so it doesn’t smell much like lemons. Still, you’re getting a good whiff when you prepare the lemon water.
Why not take this a step further and scrape off some of the lemon zest? This can easily be used in cooking and baking, and smells simply wonderful.
The Risks Of Lemon Water
Lemon water doesn’t have many risks or side effect, which could be another reason for trying it.
The main issue is the acidity of lemon juice. The juice can damage the enamel on your teeth. This is a particular problem if you’re using large amounts of juice in your lemon water.
The easiest way around the issue is to drink lemon water through a straw, rather than from the glass directly. Rinsing your mouth with water afterward can help as well.
Thankfully, if you’re only using a little lemon juice in your glass of water, there shouldn’t be many effects on your teeth.
Does Lemon Water Help With Heartburn?
The relationship between lemon water and heartburn is interesting.
Some people find that the acidic nature of lemon water makes heartburn worse. Others find that lemon water improves heartburn instead. The difference may be because while lemon water is acidic, it has an alkaline effect in the body.
You’ll need to experiment to find out whether lemon water helps with hearburn for you or makes things worse.
Why Lemon Water Isn’t As Good As It Sounds
So far, lemon water sounds compelling. It’s linked to many benefits, is even seen as a health tonic, and there aren’t many risks.
Still, while lemon water isn’t likely to cause you any harm, the drink isn’t as powerful as people suggest either. For the most part, you’re just drinking water with a little lemon juice. That juice adds to the flavor, but there isn’t enough of it to give you any dramatic health benefits.
Advocates for the water argue that it is important because it has an alkaline effect in the body. Modern diets tend to be filled with food that promotes acidity, and the acid environment is thought to lead to disease development.
However, there’s only weak evidence for this theory, as our bodies tightly regulate their pH levels (we’d die if they didn’t). Focusing on alkaline food simply changes the pH of our urine, which is unlikely to have a strong effect on health.
Lemon Water Alternatives
Lemon juice isn’t the only healthy way to flavor your water. Lime juice is another option and has similar benefits. The biggest limitation here is that limes don’t contain much juice, so drinking lime water regularly could get expensive.
Other types of citrus juice work too, like grapefruit juice or orange juice. However, you’ll see fewer benefits from sugary juices.
Infused water is another interesting option. Rather than using juice, this approach involves soaking pieces of fruit in water. Vegetables, herbs, and even spices can be used as well. Even just a few ingredients can give you an amazing combination of flavors.
In the end, lemon water is a healthy enough addition to your diet. It probably won’t have all the amazing benefits that advocates claim, but it’s still an easy way to stay hydrated, improve digestion, and promote weight loss.
Just be careful with how concentrated you make it. Adding too much lemon water will give you a sour drink that’s hard to enjoy. High amounts of lemon juice are more likely to damage your teeth too.