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Lemon water is claimed by many Internet sources to have profound health benefits, from weight loss to improved digestion, and prevention of kidney stones, when consumed regularly. (1)
What is this magic elixir? Lemon water is just water with added lemon juice. Recipes of the exact amounts of either ingredient vary depending on taste preferences and tolerance of the acidity of the mix.
So what is so special about it?
1. Provides hydration
Water is the best beverage for hydrating our bodies. Filtered water has no additives and no calories, which makes it the best source of the needed hydration of all our systems and organs.
Some people do not like the taste (or rather the absence of it) of water, and adding lemon juice makes water palatable.
The juice of half a lemon has only 9 calories and less than 1 gram of sugar, (2) making lemon water an excellent low-calorie refreshing drink.
2. Aids in digestion
Although no scientific evidence supports this claim, some people report that lemon water helps their digestion by promoting regularity. This effect may be true since constipation often results from dehydration.
A glass or two of lemon water added to the daily routine may fulfill a person’s daily water needs and relieve constipation.
3. Reduces oxidative stress
Oxidative stress is caused by the body’s internal processes and by external factors, such as environmental elements and the food we eat.
Oxidative stress promotes aging, inflammation, and disease. To fight it, you need antioxidants, which are beneficial compounds found mostly in fruits and vegetables that promote health and longevity.
Some vitamins, including vitamins C, A, and E, work as antioxidants in the body. Lemon juice contains vitamin C, which helps reduce oxidative stress. (3)
4. Increases iron absorption
Dietary iron has two types – heme iron from meat and other animal products and non-heme iron found in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, legumes, and some nuts.
Heme iron is naturally bioavailable, meaning the body easily absorbs it. However, it comes with a possible burden of overconsuming meat, which had been linked to an increased risk of cancer. Heme iron itself may be implicated in the higher risk of stomach and pancreatic cancer development. (4)
Non-heme iron is not so bioavailable by itself, but it can be made easily absorbable by consuming it with foods containing vitamin C, such as lemons and its juice.
Thus, having a glass of lemon water with a meal, such as that consisting of a spinach salad with some dried fruits and whole-grain rice or buckwheat pilaf, will bring that iron into your system to do the work it is supposed to do.
5. Helps to lighten dark spots and freckles
Lemon juice contains vitamin C, which is a potent lightening substance for skin blemishes.
However, applying lemon juice straight to facial skin may be too irritating to sensitive skin. Mixing it with a little water dilutes its potency and makes it more tolerable.
It takes a few weeks of lemon water applications to start noticing lightening results. Just make sure to continue using sunblock with at least 30 SPF when outside and wear a hat to protect your skin from sun damage.
6. Helps prevent kidney stones
Citric acid, or citrate, is a compound found in lemons that is a potent inhibitor of kidney stone formation. It does so in two ways:
- First, it binds to calcium in the urine and reduces its saturation.
- Second, it binds to tiny crystals of oxalates that form the stones. (1)
Increasing water consumption also aids in the dilution and excretion of the minerals implicated in kidney stone formation.
7. Promotes weight loss
Generally, increasing your water intake may help you lose weight. In one study, drinking 2 glasses of water before each meal was shown to reduce energy intake during the meal, leading to reduced food intake and weight loss. (5)
Also, anecdotal evidence suggests that finishing meals with lemon water helps prevent overeating and reduces the desire for a sweet meal “finisher.”
The fresh citrusy taste of lemon water curbs the appetite and cravings for something sweet. So next time, you crave something sweet, sip on some lemon water instead and watch your craving dissipate.
8. Boosts metabolism
Lemons contain polyphenols, which are potent antioxidant micronutrients commonly found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods.
It is important to remember that studies on mice do not always translate into the same results in humans. However, keeping in mind the general health benefits of polyphenols, similar outcomes of lemon consumption in people may be speculated.
9. Improves sweet taste sensitivity
Have you tried eating something sweet after eating something sour? The sweetness of the food is heightened, which may help in reducing sugar consumption.
Before adding sweetener to your morning coffee or oatmeal, sip on lemon water and mindfully add less sugar than usual. You will realize how much less of it you need to reach the same taste satisfaction. Just a little hack to keep your sweet tooth at bay.
10. Provides potassium
Potassium is a mineral necessary for your well-being. Many people do not get enough of this electrolyte due to poor diet quality, increased sweating through physical activity, or work-related reasons.
If your diet is low in vegetables and fruits and high in processed and prepackaged high-sodium foods, your potassium levels are more than likely low.
Lemons contain potassium, and adding lemon water to your daily intake will help in reaching a potassium-sodium balance.
Potassium is necessary for healthy heart function and normal blood pressure levels through the relaxation of blood vessel walls. (7)
11. Helps form good habits
This may not be a direct health benefit, but it surely helps cement good health habits. Starting your day with a glass of water provides hydration to the entire body and promotes regularity after a long night break.
Adding lemon juice to water not only gives you a vitamin, mineral, and polyphenol boost, but it can also be a healthy part of your morning routine, which, if repeated daily, can become a strong good habit.
Training your brain to form good habits, one activity at a time, is a proven path to build neural connections to effortlessly do things you want to do but find difficult to stick with.
Are there any risks associated with drinking lemon water?
High lemon juice concentrations may cause sensitivity or even erosion to tooth enamel. Therefore, do not overdo it by having only lemon water all day. Drink a glass in the morning and a few sips after meals, and then consume plain filtered water throughout the day.
How to make lemon water
Squeeze the juice of half of a lemon into 1½-2 glasses of water. Have one glass in the morning, and save the rest for after meals, throughout the day.