What drink is insanely inexpensive to make, keeps skin glowing, aids in digestion, can help you lose weight and is packed with vitamin C? No, it’s not an elixir sold on late-night infomercials. It’s lemon water, and there are a long list of benefits of lemon water that should make you consider adding it to your daily routine.
While those in the know have been chugging down the citrus-flavored water for ages, some lemon water benefits have just begun making the rounds on the health and fitness circuit in recent months, including for those on the vegan, Paleo or keto diet plan. But is lemon water really the cure-all it’s purported to be or just another health fad? Let’s dig in.
What Is Lemon Water?
Simply put, lemon water is a beverage made by combining water with lemon juice. Other optional ingredients can also be added to tailor your lemon water to your personal preferences, such as ginger, cucumber, strawberry or mint.
In recent years, lemon water has gained widespread popularity among health-conscious consumers looking for a simple way to reap the health benefits of lemons. It has also become a popular choice among dieters, as it can bump up the flavor of regular water while providing less calories than sugar-sweetened beverages like soda or commercial fruit juice.
So what are the benefits of lemon water, and should you consider adding it to your diet? Research has unearthed a multitude of benefits of drinking lemon water for weight loss, immune health, energy levels and more. Here’s what you need to know about the benefits of lemon water.
1. Aids in Digestion and Detoxification
Because lemon juice’s atomic structure is similar to the digestive juices found in the stomach, it tricks the liver into producing bile, which helps keep food moving through your body and gastrointestinal tract smoothly. In animal studies, the citric acid found in lemon water has also been shown to protect liver function and prevent oxidative damage, helping preserve the liver’s natural ability to detoxify. (1)
Drinking lemon water can also help keep you hydrated to promote regularity, make you feel less bloated, relieve constipation and allow your body to naturally detoxify. Lemon water also acts as a mild diuretic, meaning you might find yourself using the bathroom more often after you start drinking lemon water. However, this can actually be beneficial and can help the urinary tract effectively clear out any unwanted elements. (2)
2. Keeps Skin Glowing
The antioxidants found in vitamin C do double duty in lemon water and provide a whole host of cold lemon water benefits for skin. They fight free radical damage, keeping your skin looking fresh and helping slow down the aging process. (3) Getting enough vitamin C from your lemon water also keeps the body producing collagen, which is essential in smoothing out fine lines in the face. In one recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regularly consuming vitamin C led to younger-looking skin and less wrinkles. (4)
3. Promotes Weight Loss
Staying well-hydrated is absolutely crucial to any weight loss diet. Studies show that drinking water with a meal can reduce feelings of hunger while increasing satiety to curb cravings and cut down on your intake. (5) In fact, one study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association actually found that drinking 17 ounces of water before breakfast slashed the number of calories consumed by a whopping 13 percent! (6)
Swapping your soda, fruit juice or energy drinks for a glass of lemon water can not only help keep you hydrated, but it can also significantly decrease caloric intake and speed up weight loss. It also adds a zip of flavor to regular water, making it much more palatable and easier to meet your hydration needs.
4. Boosts Energy and Mood
Go ahead and skip that morning cup of coffee; one of the best benefits of lemon water in the morning is that it can effectively boost energy levels without the caffeine crash. Here’s how it works: Our bodies get energy from the atoms and molecules in foods. When negatively charged ions, like those found in lemons, enter your digestive tract, the result is a natural increase in energy levels. (7)
Additionally, just the scent of a lemon has been found to reduce stress levels and help improve mood. (8) Don’t forget to offer a glass to grumpy co-workers or family members.
5. Enhances Immunity
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that plays a central role in many different aspects of health, but it’s especially important when it comes to immunity. According to one review out of Switzerland, getting enough vitamin C can help decrease the severity and duration of respiratory infections like the common cold. It may also help improve the outcomes for conditions like malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia as well. (9)
Lemons are jam-packed with vitamin C, and adding lemon water to your daily routine is one of the best ways to take advantage of the many immune-boosting benefits of lemon water. But don’t just begin drinking it when you start coming down with a case of the sniffles; instead, add it to your daily diet when you’re feeling healthy to ward off infections before symptoms even start.
6. Prevents Kidney Stones
Kidney stones are a common condition caused by the formation of small, hard deposits in the kidneys, causing kidney stone symptoms like back and abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and blood in the urine. Luckily, lemons are loaded with citric acid, which can increase urine volume to help fight off kidney stones.
One study conducted at Duke University Medical Center treated patients with lemonade therapy for four years and found that kidney stone formation plummeted from nearly one kidney stone per year down to just 0.13 per year. (10) Drinking enough water can also help promote proper hydration to flush out kidney stones and provide fast relief.
Lemons are loaded with health benefits, and they’re considered a great vitamin C food source. In fact, just one cup of fresh lemon juice provides 187 percent of your daily recommended serving of vitamin C — take that, oranges! Lemon juice also offers up a healthy serving of potassium, magnesium and copper.
Check out what other benefits some fresh lemon juice adds to a plain glass of water. One cup of lemon juice contains approximately: (11)
- 61 calories
- 21 grams carbohydrates
- 0.9 gram protein
- 1 gram dietary fiber
- 112 milligrams vitamin C (187 percent DV)
- 303 milligrams potassium (9 percent DV)
- 31.7 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (6 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams thiamin (5 percent DV)
- 14.6 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams copper (4 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients listed above, lemon juice also contains some pantothenic acid, vitamin E, calcium and zinc.
Alkaline Foods and Effects on Our Bodies
Your body’s pH is absolutely essential to maintaining overall health. Unfortunately, the typical Western diet is filled with refined sugars, ultra-processed foods and chemical additives that can all contribute to an overproduction of acid in the blood, causing pH levels to tank and fostering an environment where disease can thrive.
Adding healthy, alkaline foods to your diet can counteract these negative effects and help you balance your pH to maintain optimal health. Some research shows that an alkaline diet may be beneficial for relieving chronic pain, boosting bone health and protecting against disease. (12) According to one study published in the British Journal of Radiology, fostering an alkaline environment in the body could also help enhance cancer treatment effectiveness as well. (13)
Although lemons are considered acidic, they actually have an alkalizing effect in the body. Drinking lemon water can provide some of the same health benefits of alkaline water, helping balance your body’s pH and optimize overall health.
Lemon Water vs. Water vs. Lime Water
Regular water supplies many of the same benefits of lemon water but with a zip of added flavor and nutrients. Like lemon water, drinking regular water can help you stay hydrated, boost weight loss, prevent kidney stones and enhance digestion. However, lemon water does provide a burst of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that isn’t found in regular water.
Limes are also rich in vitamin C and contain a similar nutrient profile to lemons. Lime water benefits are similar to the benefits of lemon water and can boost antioxidant intake, support weight loss and keep you hydrated with an added dose of flavor.
Uses in Ayurveda and TCM
Lemons are well-known for their healing properties and have been used in many forms of holistic medicine for centuries. Drinking lemon water can easily fit into a healthy diet and can be used to treat a long list of health concerns.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, lemon water benefits digestion and stomach health. It’s also said to have cooling properties and can help boost the functions of the liver and gallbladder.
Meanwhile, on an Ayurvedic diet, lemons are thought to be cleansing and purifying and are believed to promote digestive health by stimulating the secretion of digestive enzymes and supporting regularity.
How to Make Lemon Water
Lemons are available year-round and can easily be found in the produce section of nearly every major supermarket. When buying lemons, however, there are a few things to keep in mind.
There are three main types of lemons available in the U.S. Eureka and Lisbon lemons are both sour and tart. Eureka lemons have textured skins and few seeds while Lisbon lemons tend to have a smoother skin and no seeds. Meyer lemons, a sweeter variety, are becoming more common. Because they are closely related to Mandarin oranges, these fruits have a deeper color than traditional lemons.
When buying lemons, opt for ones that are fully yellow and, if possible, organic. If the fruit is still green, it isn’t fully ripe. Thinner-skinned lemons are juicier. Keep away from lemons that look dull, wrinkled or excessively hard.
Making lemon water is easy and simply requires mixing a bit of lemon juice with some fresh water. You can add as much or as little lemon juice as you’d like, but most people typically use the juice of half a lemon up to one full lemon in their lemon water.
To make preparing lemon water even easier, you can juice several lemons into an ice cube tray and freeze. Pop a few cubes in a glass of water to have fresh lemon juice at the ready anytime. Although lemon water can be enjoyed at any temperature, many prefer using warm or room temperature water to avoid shocking your system. Drink a few cups per day to maximize the potential health benefits of lemon water.
Staying hydrated doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, there are plenty of ways to spice up your glass and reap the health benefits of lemon water. Here are a few healthy recipes that you can add to your lemon water detox diet:
Until about the 10th century, lemons were used mainly as decorative plants. The Crusades in the 11th century brought the plant into Europe, and it made its first appearance in the New World in the late 1400s. Lemons and other vitamin C-rich fruits were particularly treasured for their ability to ward off scurvy. Today, the main producers of lemons include Italy, Greece, Spain, Turkey and the U.S.
Although there are plenty of benefits of lemon water, there are tons of other unique ways to use lemons as well. Try adding some lemon juice to the dishwasher and running it on the rinse cycle to disinfect and deodorize your kitchen naturally. You can also add fresh lemon peels, cinnamon sticks and cloves to a pot of water and simmer on the stove to make your house smelling fresh.
Lemon essential oil also boasts a wide array of potential uses. Mix it with baking soda and coconut oil for a natural tooth whitener, try using lemon water with honey and baking soda for an all-natural face wash, or use a lemon oil-soaked cloth to spruce up your silver and get rid of tarnishes quickly.
Risks and Side Effects
While lemon water is one of the safest drinks you can ingest, the acids in lemon can eat away at your tooth enamel. To prevent this, drink lemon water before brushing your teeth — the overnight bacteria will protect your teeth a bit. Drink from a straw and rinse with baking soda to neutralize any acid that might be left on your teeth and minimize any potential lemon water side effects.
Additionally, while citrus fruit allergies are uncommon, they have been reported. If you experience any food allergy symptoms like hives, redness, itching or swelling, discontinue use immediately and consult with your doctor.
- Lemon water is a beverage made by combining lemon juice with water, along with other optional ingredients like fruits, vegetables and herbs.
- A lemon water detox can help promote liver function and regularity. It also detoxifies your body by acting as a diuretic to flush out potential toxins.
- Lemon water may also enhance immunity, increase weight loss, prevent kidney stones, improve skin health and boost energy levels and mood.
- There are plenty of lemon water recipe options available to spice up your drink, making it simple and delicious to take advantage of the unique health benefits that this beverage has to offer.