Is Lemon Water Really Good for You?
Pucker up, because it turns out this simple beverage packs a health punch.
Health-conscious celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and Gisele Bündchen are always going on and on about they drink lemon water every day, first thing in the morning. Why all the fuss over lemons? Is this trendy way to start the day actually useful from a health perspective? I looked into it and have to admit, I was surprised by all of the benefits of drinking lemon water in the morning. Here is what the research said.
Boosts Stomach Acid
The acid in lemons supplements the acid levels in our stomachs, which tend to decline as we age. Stomach acid—hydrochloric acid—is vital because it helps digest proteins and process nutrients. And according to the University of Michigan, less acid actually means less protection of the stomach itself. With less acid, some medications, such as ibuprofen, or prescription drugs used to treat pain from arthritis or sports injuries, may become more irritating.
Provides Vitamin C
Lemons are high in vitamin C, containing 30.7 milligrams per fruit. For adults, the recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 65 to 90 milligrams a day. We associate vitamin C with a strong immune system, which has been a matter of debate in scientific research. The Linus Pauling Institute reports that vitamin C supplementation may help reduce the duration and severity of the common cold, and reduced infection-induced asthma. The Institute notes that vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, a part of the body’s immune system, and helps protect them. In addition to the vitamin C, lemons contain potassium and vitamin B6.
Lemon Water’s Health Benefits
Beyond immune-boosting properties, lemons may help keep the whole body healthier. Here are just a few examples:
- Citrus flavonoids—antioxidant plant compounds—are linked with better heart health. Some studies have shown that consuming citrus flavonoids reduced total cholesterol and lowered LDL (“bad” cholesterol), while raising HDL (the “good” cholesterol). Other studies suggest citrus flavonoids may lower inflammation in the vessel walls, reducing atherosclerosis, and improve blood flow.
- Flavonoids might even help the colon work better, reducing constipation.
- The acidity in the lemons may also help with liver health, encouraging bile flow to help flush fat-soluble toxins from the liver.
- The citrate in lemons may help prevent kidney stones, caused by a buildup of minerals in the kidneys. Doctors often prescribe citrate medications to slow or stop the formation of kidney stones, but lemons contain natural citrate. Drinking a lot of water can help avoid kidney stones, too, so having the extra hydration from a glass of lemon water is a perk.
When should you drink lemon water?
Ideally, first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, but lemon water has healing properties no matter what time of day you enjoy it. If you prefer it in the afternoon, go for it.
Lemon Water Myths
Lemon water has some research backing up the health buzz. However, according to Medical News Today, there are some claims about drinking lemon juice—or even taking it further by going on a lemon water cleanse—that are simply not substantiated. These include fighting cancer, raising IQ, and aiding in weight loss. (Which is a bummer, because being slender, genius-level smart, and cancer-proof sounds pretty awesome.) Lemon water is also not actually able to change your body’s pH level, despite some natural-health views that lemons will make your body more alkaline.
How do you make lemon water?
Super easy. Take half of a fresh lemon, and squeeze it into about 1.5 to 2 cups (12 oz. to 16 oz.) of water. Supposedly, warm water is even better, making the flavonoids in the lemon easier for the body to absorb. Use fresh lemons, not bottled lemon juice, and make the lemon water fresh each time you drink it, as opposed to making a big batch.
While drinking lemon water will not turn me into a radiant supermodel like Gisele Bündchen, I have been convinced that it is a simple, easy health tweak, and worth trying.
- by Kathryn Drury Wagner