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Lemon water sounds like a good idea, and you’ve probably seen pictures on Pinterest of large pitchers of water with vibrant lemons and the Top 10 reasons why you should be drinking it.
It’s easy to take these images and lists at face value, and most won’t end up actually drinking lemon water regularly, or be able to tell their friends the Top 10 reasons lemon water is good for you.
We’re interested in the part that adds vitality and incredible cleansing effects to the body. If you’re just getting started on a path of feeling better through diet change then replacing our morning coffee with lemon water is a great first step.
I truly believe that we have the power to heal our bodies by adapting what we consume every day. Our challenge is to:
1. Look through the top benefits we’ve listed below and find the one benefit that will motivate you to start incorporating lemon water into your daily life.
2. Commit to 14 days of drinking lemon water.
3. Write down how you feel on day 1, then on day 14.
4. Let us know what you experienced.
Let’s get started by finding out why lemon water is so beneficial to help us get motivated.
Lemons as a Source of Vitamin C
We know lemons are high in Vitamin C which is essential for normal growth and development (2). A single lemon contains around 30-40 mg of Vitamin C (3) (in comparison an orange contains around 80-90 mg).
Vitamin C has been studied extensively and shown to have a myriad of health benefits from protecting against prenatal problems to cardiovascular disease, eye diseases, skin wrinkles, and immune system deficiencies (4). I’ve worked with obese and unhealthy people and getting them to replace a sugary drink with lemon water each morning has been a catalyst for many on their path to better health.
It acts as an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals (5). This might be something you’ve heard before as healthy buzz words, but it basically means your body will be better at fighting and repelling disease.
If you’d like to go down the rabbit hole of Vitamin C start with this fact sheet, as we’ll be focusing on some of the more unique properties of lemon water.
Unique Health Benefits of Lemons
1. Lemon Water as Detox and Cleanse
This is the first benefit that comes to mind when it comes to lemon water, and usually the most overstated. We’ve cited a few scientific sources that give true insight on the potential for lemon water as a natural detox.
Not surprisingly, the amount of urine is increased when drinking lemon water, however, lemon water brings with it the primary compound known as Citrate.
This is a naturally-occurring inhibitor of toxins (which can build up in the form of crystals in the body). The Citric acid enhances your body’s ability to naturally flush out these unwanted toxins.
Toxins come into our systems through various sources: from the air we breathe to some of the foods we eat.
The main premise behind lemon water as a detox revolves around its ability to enhance your bodies enzyme function and stimulate the liver. Basically your liver acts as your body’s filtration system, and lemon water enhances its ability to filter unwanted junk.
Studies indicate that in cases where toxins have built up in the body, the lemon juice and peel have cleansing properties. Using lemon water, especially after meals may help you lower the amount of toxins in your body.
2. Improve Digestion with Lemon Water
Citrus flavonoids are the primary cause of improved digestion when drinking warm lemon water. They aid in the assimilation of food, help prevent fatty liver, decrease chances of cardiovascular disease, fat-lowering, and reduced insulin sensitivity. This has to do with its ability to inhibit certain syntheses of fat in the body (7). Sounds like a good thing right, but is it going to make you feel better?
Citrus flavonoids act as a great digestive tonic, with appetite suppressing abilities (8). It has also been shown to calm an upset stomach or mild indigestion. This has to do with the hydrochloric acid in your stomach that starts the process of breaking down your food. It is believed the citrus flavonoids in lemon water support the hydrochloric acid in the stomach in breaking down food (9).
Many people are beginning to discover that their digestion problems have to do with the health of their stomach. Feeding your body the right things over time builds your bodies ability to process foods better, much like building a muscle.
The best way to utilize lemon water as a digestion aid is to also include the zest of the lemon which will improve the good bacteria in your gut.
3. Alkalize with Lemon Water
If you’re new to the concept of alkalinity, it’s the process of neutralizing acid in the body. The basic idea is your body has certain acids that can build up causing negative side effects such as acid reflux, upset stomach, acidosis and beyond (10).
There are various ways to check the pH levels of your body to find out if you are too acidic. I would suggest getting some pH strips online, and getting an idea of where you’re at.
An ideal range to fall between is 4.6-8.0 and can be tested with pH strips using saliva or urine (11).
If you plan to use lemon water or alkaline drinking water to manage your body’s acid levels we recommend speaking with your doctor first and identifying your pH levels.
If you identify a need to alkalize, then as we recommend earlier, get some home pH strips that will allow you to stay within the recommend ranges.
This is one of those areas of health that can go unchecked. Most people are far to acidic and this causes a whole range of negative side effects. Popping an antacid, is putting a band-aid on the issue, which is why you should take some time to understand your pH levels and how to get them in balance.
Lemon water is a safe and effective way to manage your pH levels and achieving healthy alkalinity may benefit in bone health, reduced muscle wasting, decrease chances of hypertension and strokes, improved cardiovascular health, and improved memory (12).
4. Weight loss/Appetite Suppressant
We’re approaching this claim with caution since any new health fad that becomes popular can get turned into a “fat burning miracle.”
There is a lack of scientific research that supports the claim of weight loss fully, however, this doesn’t mean the claims are false, simply that additional research is needed (13).
One of the studies that does exist was not a human trial but did show significantly reduced weight gain when a diet high in fat was being consumed (14). Most people whether they want to admit it or not fall in the high fat diet category.
Pectin and polyphenols are the main substances found in lemons that have more research available showing weight loss and appetite suppressing qualities.
Pectin gives a feeling a fullness much like other soluble dietary fibers, that may help reduced caloric intake. For some people simply staving off hunger and cravings can allow for long term weight loss. If you find yourself struggling with always being hungry this is worth looking at.
Every “body” will respond differently to lemon water, which is why we recommend adding this to your diet without any other major changes to isolate the effects.
This will allow you to better attribute any changes you experience and not be confused if it was the new multivitamin you started taking.
While additional research is needed regarding the weight loss benefits of lemon water, positive benefits are achieved by replacing sugary drinks for lemon water.
We recommend replacing your morning coffee with lemon water for at least two weeks. Keep a journal of your mood, energy and cravings for the two weeks to see what positive benefits you experience.
Lemon Water Safety Measures
Safety measures for lemon water?! I know what you’re thinking, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
First off you really shouldn’t be eating the seeds of the lemon. A few here and there isn’t going to be terrible for you but if you plan to drink lemon water regularly then make sure you’re avoiding the seeds. They contain small amounts of salicylic acid which is the main ingredient in asprin, along with the bitter/astringent coating on the outside of the seed which gives it the bitter taste.
The easiest way I’ve found to get rid of them is to use a small strainer or a lemon press.
If you’re used to sweetening your tea or coffee then your taste buds are going to want a spike of sugar in your lemon water.
Try to avoid adding sweeteners other than raw honey as it will negate many of the benefits I mentioned previously.
If you can start to cut more and more sugar out of your diet you will find your taste buds resetting and your cravings for sugar drop dramatically.
I had never experienced this until I cut out most of the sugars in my diet, but I can honestly say my cravings for sugary foods dropped dramatically.
Another common concern is what effects lemon juice has on the enamel of your teeth. As long as you’re not using it like mouthwash your teeth will be safe.
With the amount of soda that people drink in our time, substituting lemon water will actually save your teeth. If you’re super concerned about it then try using a straw.
Drinking lemon water is one of the little things that we can do on a regular basis that can have long term benefits.
The people who will experience the most dramatic effects in the beginning will be those who can replace a morning coffee or soda with lemon water.
As with any new addition to your diet, I recommend giving it a minimum of two weeks to see what positive benefits you’re getting.
We’re so used to instant gratification in almost everything we do, so when it comes to healthy diets and exercise it can be easy to get discouraged if we don’t see results in a few days.
To Cleanse or Not to Cleanse? The pros and cons of cleansing and how to do it in a mindful and healthy way: