Lemon water is a go-to home remedy, believed to help with the common cold, aid digestion, help in weight loss, and detox the body.
The drink has also gained popularity as a morning alternative to coffee and tea because it’s believed to get the digestion system moving.
So, is drinking lemon water the magic bullet most people claim it to be? We look at the evidence-based health benefits of drinking lemon water.
Nutrition: What’s in lemons?
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, lemons contain roughly 18.6 milligrams (mg) of Vitamin C or 21% of the daily recommended intake value.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant – a substance that prevents and removes damaging oxidizing agents from your body.
Also, like its cousins, such as limes, grapefruit, and oranges, lemons are a rich source of flavonoids, compounds that boost immunity in your body.
Beyond Vitamin C, lemons contain only trace elements of other vitamins and minerals. The U.S. Department of Agric estimates that a single 48 gram (g) squeezed lemon contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 10.6
- Vitamin C: 18.6 milligrams (mg), equivalent to 21% of Daily recommended intake.
- Folate: 9.6 micrograms (mcg)
- Potassium: 49.4 mg
- Vitamin B-1: 0.01 mg
- Vitamin B-1: 0.01 mg
- Vitamin B-5: 0.06 mg
While a single glass of lemon water doesn’t seem to provide many nutrients, it’s still a healthy, low-sugar, and low-calorie drink that can serve as an alternative to carbonated and sugary drinks.
What is lemon water?
Lemon water is simply water mixed with the juice from lemons. Some people use the entire lemon, cutting it into pieces to make lemon-infused water.
You can take lemon water, either hot or cold. Use as much or little lemon juice as you prefer.
How to make lemon water
Making lemon water is a simple, straightforward process.
Like with any remedy or habit, you reap the benefits when you drink it consistently. Make it a habit to drink lemon water in the morning and during the day.
We’ve talked about drinking infused water; use lemons to add flavor to other infused drinks. For instance, add a few lemon slices to a pitcher of apple-infused water for added flavor.
Turn your lemon juice into lemon cubes to make lemon water fast. Simply squeeze the lemon juice into ice cube trays, freeze it up, and use the cubes in your morning drink.
What are the health benefits of drinking lemon water?
The science behind drinking lemon water is still anecdotal. However, by combining the proven benefits of drinking water and what we know of Vitamin C’s role in our bodies, we’ve found several ways lemon water may benefit your body.
1. Improves digestion
Most people drink lemon water in the morning to kickstart the digestive system. However, there are additional benefits to your gut health.
Lemons are rich in soluble fiber, particularly pectic, that can slow the digestion of certain sugars and starches. As such, it may help reduce blood sugar levels in the body.
However, most of the fiber is in the pulp. To get the benefits, you need to eat the pulp. You can do this by cutting up the lemon and crushing it in water.
Lemon water may also prevent constipation by acting as a laxative. Combined with the soluble fiber, it may help flush out toxins from your digestive system.
2. Prevents and flushes out kidney stones
Kidney stones are small particles that form when waste from your body crystallizes and builds up in the kidneys. They are pretty common.
Lemon water contains citric acid, which may help flush them out. The citrate in citric acid makes urine less acidic and may even help break up kidney stones. The water then flushes the stones out.
Half a cup of lemon water a day may even help prevent the formation of kidney stones in people who’ve had them before.
3. Improves skin health
Drinking lemon water may help reduce skin wrinkling and prevent dry skin from the effects of aging or damage from the sun.
In a 2016 study on mice, citrus-based drinks seemed to prevent the development of wrinkles in hairless mice.
Again, whether that’s scientifically applicable to humans remains unclear.
If your skin quickly loses moisture, drinking lemon water may help keep your skin cells healthy and hydrated.
4. Helps with weight loss and control
One theory suggests that the soluble fiber in lemons expands in the stomach, making you feel fuller. In reality, however, not many people eat lemons whole.
In a study on mice, those given lemon polyphenols gained less weight and body fat than others on a fattening diet.
However, that study has not been confirmed in humans.
Indeed, research shows that some of the compounds found in lemons may affect weight in several ways.
These antioxidant compounds, for example, offset the adverse effects on blood glucose and improved insulin resistance.
There’s still strong anecdotal evidence that lemon water aids in weight loss. However, whether that’s from drinking more water or the juice itself remains unproven.
5. Boost heart health and immunity
Lemons contain more than 20 mg of Vitamin C, which reduces the risk of strokes and heart disease.
The compounds in lemons could, for instance, significantly lower some risk factors associated with heart disease.
In a study, eating 24 grams of citrus fiber for a month gradually cut total blood cholesterol levels.
Other compounds in lemons, such as hesperidin and diosmin, have also been proven to lower cholesterol.
While the science is still far from conclusive, drinking lemon water may aid in weight loss, promote digestion, prevent kidney stones and boost heart health.
Adding lemon to water may help you drink more water during the day, keeping you well hydrated and flushing out toxins.
Lemons are not only healthy, but their distinct fresh smell makes them a great addition to water and other foods or beverages.
Like with all-natural remedies, consult your doctor before trying lemon water, especially if you have any allergies or persistent underlying medical conditions.
Ultimately, lemon water makes a healthy, refreshing alternative to carbonated and other sugary drinks.