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The benefits of drinking lemon water is a common and highly recommended concept. Unlike other trends, drinking lemon water actually lives up to the hype it has caused. Doctors, fitness gurus, and nutritionists alike have all boasted on the positive effects it can have on one’s overall health – especially for weight loss and boosting the body’s immunity. 

Simple Lemon Water Recipe

  • A glass (8 or more ounces) of warm water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • A squeeze of honey (optional)

If you are not a fan of lemons, lime can be a nice substitute. 

Nutritional Values

The lemon is an extremely rich source of Vitamin C. In fact, one lemon squeeze produces around 21% of a person’s daily value. As a citrus fruit, lemons contain many flavonoids – powerful antioxidant agents that help the body function more efficiently and protect it against toxins, stressors, and diseases. But, aside from this, there’s not much else special about the lemon. Containing only trace amounts of protein, fats, carbs, or sugars, the lemon is a relatively unremarkable fruit, and yet it has been proven to improve the body and its health. 

According to the United States Department for Agriculture database, the nutrient breakdown for lemon water containing one 48 gram (g) squeezed lemon is as follows:

  • 10.6 calories
  • 18.6 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, or 21% DV
  • 9.6 micrograms (mcg) of folate, or 2% DV
  • 49.4 mg of potassium, or 1% DV
  • 0.01 mg of vitamin B-1, or 1% DV
  • 0.01 mg of vitamin B-2, or 1% DV
  • 0.06 mg of vitamin B-5, or 1% DV

While it does not seem to provide a lot of nutrients, lemon water is a low calorie, low sugar beverage. In comparison, by replacing the lemon with the juice of half an orange, you would double the number of calories and triple the amount of sugar while only achieving 24% of a person’s daily value of vitamin C.

Benefits 

Helps Weight Loss

The most common benefit people associate with drinking lemon water is losing weight. This is not entirely accurate. By simply drinking water with lemon juice in it, the body does not lose weight. However, there are several qualities about lemon juice and how it interacts with the body’s functions that can help maintain weight or even aid in dropping a few pounds. 

Naturally, staying properly hydrated helps the body achieve healthy weight loss. Not only does drinking water improve the digestive system by flushing out fats, but it also works to decrease appetite. With lemon juice, this process can be expedited. If you drink water before bed, it can promote diuretic properties and flush toxins out of the body throughout the night. With the excretion of toxins, overall metabolism can be boosted (a huge factor in weight loss). 

Additionally, lemon juice is a great substitute for high-sugar or high-calorie beverages. This reduces calorie intake, another big factor in overall weight loss. 

Boosts Immunity

In the current era of concern over COVID-19, improving one’s immunity is a high priority. The lemon, which is full of Vitamin C, is one of the best and tastiest ways to boost your immune system. 

Containing both flavonoids and antioxidant agents, lemons help to boost your immunity in two ways. First, flavonoids are various compounds found naturally in most fruits and vegetables. Because of their anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-carcinogenic properties, flavonoids are now considered indispensable components in many nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, medicinal, and cosmetic applications. These amazing compounds may also work to aid in managing weight and cholesterol. Simply put, flavonoids help ward off everyday toxins and, in a few cases, decrease risks of some chronic health conditions. Second, the antioxidant agents found in both flavonoids and Vitamin C supports the immune system by helping to prevent infections. It does this by fighting free radicals – which can damage healthy cells – and bacteria. Additionally, research has shown that if you are already feeling under the weather, Vitamin C can shorten the length of a common cold. 

Eases Cough and Cold Symptoms

With the flu and cold season on the near horizon, people are looking toward simple ways to ease pain and discomfort. Lemon water, especially taken warm and with a little honey, is a great holistic approach to combating cold symptoms and easing coughs or sore throats. 

According to many, lemon juice is reported to decrease the strength of the cold and flu virus in the body and reduce phlegm. This clears up overall congestion. By drinking lemon juice in a glass of water, you can limit the amount of congestion and drainage you experience. And when added with honey, which has antibacterial properties, lemon juice can soothe a sore or scratchy throat. 

Aids Digestion, Relieves Constipation

No one likes to talk about it, but the truth is that constipation happens. Indigestion, constipation, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome can have vastly negative effects on a person’s life – even to the point of hindering the quality of life. In consideration of these issues, research has been done showing that consuming lemon water can help the above. This is because lemons (along with prunes and apples) contain dietary fiber. 

The body does not digest fiber; instead, it passes through the digestive system and helps keep the gut healthy. Diets rich in dietary fiber and plenty of water promote regular, healthy digestion and bowel movements. The United States Department of Agriculture suggests that men eat at least 34 grams and women eat 28 grams per day. That being said, people who have constipation may need to consume more grams of fiber daily. 

While some research suggests that the acids found in lemons can aid in digestion by supplementing the body’s natural stomach acids, the true benefits of lemon water and digestion are found in the fiber. Not only does this aid in the overall digesting process, but when combined with water, it also helps to keep stool soft, easing defecation. However, to truly reap the fiber benefits found in lemons, you may need to eat the pulp of it, not just consume the juice. This can create a simple remedy to get rid of constipation and lessen symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 

Improves Skin Health

The benefits that drinking lemon water produces in skill health are a controversial topic. There is not enough research to report an overall standard. However, we know that certain aspects or qualities of lemon juice have – and can – improve skin health. These qualities include many already discussed above. 

Because of the antioxidant agents and anti-oxidative properties found in lemons, consuming a regular dose of lemon water can result in anti-aging effects and may even suppress wrinkles. The Vitamin C content in lemon water can also promote collagen formation – the main structural protein found in skin and connective tissue. While the benefits from drinking lemon water are not the same in all people, those who have tried consuming it regularly see results such as:

  • Pores were less visible and felt less clogged
  • Acne breakouts were less frequent and less severe
  • Making the overall complexion more radiant
  • Reducing the lines on the face

Risks

While lemon water is entirely safe to drink, there can be some negative side effects to be mindful of before implementing it into your daily routine. 

Can Harm Tooth Enamel

Because of the acidity found in lemons, damage can be done to the enamel over time, causing the teeth to be more prone to cavities. To combat this, many recommend drinking acidic drinks through a straw or rinsing the mouth out afterward. 

Avoid brushing your teeth right after drinking lemon water as the enamel can be in an acid-softened state. 

Rashes

Dermatologists want to clarify that while drinking lemon water has helpful benefits for skin health, topically applying lemon juice or lemon water can have bad side effects. Applying lemon juice or lemon water to the skin as a toner can damage the epidermis, creating inflammation and possible scarring. Additionally, if applied to the skin topically, citrus juice can make the skin more sensitive to sunlight and result in burning. 

Citations: 

Panche, A. N., Diwan, A. D., & Chandra, S. R. (2016). Flavonoids: an overview. Journal of nutritional science, 5, e47. https://doi.org/10.1017/jns.2016.41 

Mahmoud, A. M., Hernández Bautista, R. J., Sandhu, M. A., & Hussein, O. E. (2019). Beneficial Effects of Citrus Flavonoids on Cardiovascular and Metabolic Health. Oxidative medicine and cellular longevity, 2019, 5484138. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/5484138 

National Institutes of Health. (2019). Vitamin C. Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-Consumer/ 

Brianna Connors
Brianna Connors