You may have read that drinking lemon water first thing in the morning has miraculous health benefits. Lemon water is simply water with the juice of a lemon (and perhaps lemon slices or rind as well) added to it. Claims include weight control, maintaining “alkalinity”, or detoxing the liver after drinking a bottle of wine the night before. Are any of the claims true? Not exactly.
Lemon juice is a source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. The juice from one whole lemon provides about 20% of the Vitamin C you need per day. Lemons otherwise provide little in terms of nutrition, although their juice and rind zest can offer wonderful flavor to a variety of dishes and baked goods.
Antioxidants help the body clear out free radicals (atoms in the body that are unstable and can damage cells). They are also high in a compounds called flavonoids, which may have anti-inflammatory benefits. Drinking lemon juice daily may benefit you if you have arthritis or another auto-immune disease.
If you are prone to kidney stones, drinking lemon water daily could possibly help. Lemon juice is high in citrate, a compound that may help prevents kidney stones from forming because it increases urinary levels of citrate. This may prevent calcium from binding (commonly, kidney stones are calcium oxalate). Good hydration is also important in the prevention of kidney stones.
The top benefit of lemon water is simply hydration and all of the benefits that go with it. Squeezing a lemon into a cold glass of water provides some additional flavor, and may make drinking more water more appealing. Unlike oranges, the juice from a lemon provides virtually no sugar, so you can flavor water without calories.
Drinking enough water daily to stay adequately hydrated can help with weight control (promotes a feeling of fullness), can help relieve or prevent constipation (and thereby reduce bloating), and can help enhance athletic performance.
While the above benefits may help support health, there are several myths and false claims about lemon water.Lemon water may help you stay well-hydrated, which is important. It won't help with weight loss or 'detox' however. Click To Tweet
While staying hydrated can help with weight control, lemon water itself does not promote weight loss.
There are also myths about keeping the body alkaline. There is no evidence that an “alkaline diet” works. The foods within such a “diet” may include healthy fruits and vegetables (which is great) but the diet itself does not impact the body’s pH, since what we eat or drink does not affect the acidity of the blood or the body’s cells. Other claims about an alkaline diet in which there is no evidence, include reducing cancer risk.
A popular claim to maintaining a regular lemon water morning ritual, is that it will offer detox. Some claim that after a night of drinking, lemon water “cleans the liver”. It doesn’t. Water itself does help the body clear out waste via feces and urine, but it’s our kidney and livers that do the detoxing on a regular basis. Abusing alcohol will damage your liver over time. Following the guidelines of drinking alcohol in moderation (2 drinks or less per day for men, one or less for women) is the best bet. The idea of “diet detox” is simply a trend that has no scientific support. A healthy liver “cleans” the blood by filtering out harmful toxins.
Chew the Facts®
The final word on drinking lemon water? Most health claims are false or exaggerated. Enjoy it if you like, but it’s not miraculous nor is it necessary to consume daily (in fact, the acidity can cause harm to tooth enamel). Also to note, is that drinking apple cider vinegar garnishes similar claims that are untrue. Staying well-hydrated is important however, so if a slice of lemon (or cucumber, fresh mint, or orange slice) helps you drink more water, go ahead and enjoy it that way.