Do you drink a glass of lemon water every morning?
Lemon water is a simple but very popular health trend with all sorts of proposed health benefits.
Let’s take a look at the health benefits and risks of drinking lemon water, to see if lemon water is good for you and as healthy and life-changing as commonly claimed.
Health Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water
Many people enjoy drinking water more when it has some flavour, especially a delicious and refreshing flavour like lemon.
Drinking lemon water can help keep you hydrated, which is crucial for keeping your body healthy; proper hydration is essential for pretty much all functions of the body.
2. Skin health
One benefit of staying hydrated is healthy skin. Without moisture, skin becomes dry and wrinkle-prone.
Lemon water may help with skin care, due to the hydration it provides, as well as the vitamin C from the lemon.
Lemons are a good source of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant that plays a role in skin health. Skin actually has a high concentration of vitamin C. Its functions in the skin include promoting collagen formation, promoting wound healing, and reducing oxidative damage (1).
3. Immune system
Vitamin C is also important for a healthy immune system. Its immune functions include antiviral action and inflammation reduction.
Evidence shows that vitamin C has a small effect on shortening the duration and severity of the common cold (2). But there are contradictory results in terms of whether it has a big enough effect to make vitamin C supplementation worth it.
Nonetheless, vitamin C is still important for a healthy and strong immune system.
While drinking lemon water may not have any profound immune-strengthening effects, it can boost your vitamin C levels (depending on how much lemon you add to your water).
Vitamin C levels tend to drop (and need to be replenished) when the immune system is very active, such as during an infection, so it may be a good idea to drink lemon water during cold and flu season, and when you are sick.
4. Weight loss
There is some evidence that drinking water can help with weight loss (3). Lemon water, being just water with added lemon juice, can have the same effects.
Lemon water is a low-calorie, low-sugar drink. This can be beneficial to your health and help with weight loss if drinking lemon water means you are reducing your consumption of high-calorie and high-sugar drinks like juice and pop. Swapping high-calorie, high-sugar drinks for the healthy alternative of lemon water can reduce calorie intake.
Similarly, lemon water (as well as just plain water) is a low-calorie (or zero calorie in the case of plain water) way to help you feel more full. One study found that drinking water before a meal reduces the amount of calories consumed at the meal by 13% (4).
By reducing caloric intake, drinking lemon water can help encourage weight loss.
Note: These benefits come from the water part of lemon water. Plain water has the same effects for weight loss.
The high vitamin C content of lemons makes them a natural diuretic. Vitamin C helps increase the water content in the gut, which helps to get your digestive system going.
This is why some people like to drink lemon water first thing in the morning.
However, while many people claim that lemon water is great for detoxing and cleansing, there is no evidence that lemon water has any more detoxing/cleansing action than the basic waste elimination that plain old water helps with.
6. Kidney stones
There is some evidence that drinking lemon water may help with kidney stones.
Lemons contain high levels of a compound called citrate. Citrate helps protect against kidney stone formation (5).
Additionally, the hydration that lemon water offers, can help prevent and flush out kidney stones.
Risks of Drinking Lemon Water
The acidity of lemons can contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel.
To reduce the risk of enamel erosion:
- drink lemon water with a straw
- rinse mouth with plain water after drinking the lemon water
- do not brush your teeth soon after drinking lemon water
Anecdotal evidence suggests that the acidity of lemon water may cause or reduce heartburn and/or acid reflux, nausea, and vomiting, depending on the person.
How to Make Lemon Water
Simply squeeze fresh lemon juice into water, and/or add some lemon wedges to infuse into the water.
If you are drinking lemon water specifically for the vitamin C benefits, make sure you add enough lemon.
Half a lemon has about 15mg of vitamin C. For reference, that’s about 20% of the recommended vitamin C intake of 75-90mg/day (6).
You can also add other simple ingredients to your lemon water to infuse it with more flavour and potentially more benefits:
And if you’re looking for a soda/pop alternative, carbonated lemon water is a great low-calorie option!
Lemon water can be beneficial for your hydration, skin health, immune system, weight loss, digestion, and more, but may also contribute to tooth erosion and heartburn.
I hope you enjoyed this article on the health benefits of lemon water. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions below!