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Lemon water benefits: Are there any?

lemon water benefits
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Lemon water is a popular trend right now, but are there any real benefits to it? That seems to be the question on everyone’s lips these days. It seems we’re all investing in water bottles, filling them with a combination of water and lemon juice and then drinking it either hot or cold depending on the season. But are there really any health benefits to be had from drinking lemon water? It certainly seems that way.

Several studies have been carried out into the health benefits of drinking lemon water, with results suggesting that lemon water can do everything from aiding gut digestion and weight loss, to improving the skin’s appearance. There’s even evidence to suggest that it can lower your blood pressure and boost your immunity.

This article assesses the evidence surrounding these claims, as well as looking at anecdotal evidence from devotees of lemon water. Plus, we’ll show you how to make your own lemon water from scratch.

Why is lemon water said to be good for you?

When it comes to finding new ways for how to stay hydrated (opens in new tab), you’ve probably seen countless news headlines on the ‘miracle’ properties of lemon water, from losing weight fast to flushing out toxins from the body.

Lots of people start their day with lemon water instead of a caffeine-based drink, such as coffee or tea. It’s certainly a refreshing alternative to a cup of joe, but does it have any real health benefits? Here’s a look at the top 5 claims people make about lemon water:

  • It improves your digestion: Many people report that taking lemon water helps to reduce digestive problems, such as bloating and heartburn.
  • It helps with weight loss: Devotees of lemon water say that a daily glass helps them to shed pounds more easily, and keep the weight off.
  • It boosts your immunity: We all know lemons contain vitamin C, which is great for our body’s immune system, helping us to ward off colds, coughs, and infections.
  • It lowers your blood pressure: The minerals in lemons, such as calcium and potassium, are said to lower blood pressure, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Medicine (opens in new tab).
  • It improves your skin’s appearance: Again, the vitamin C in lemons is the key ingredient here. Vitamin C is a known antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from free radicals, so it’s possible that lemon water can help to improve its appearance and reduce the signs of aging. 

Are there truly any benefits to lemon water?

There’s a great deal of anecdotal evidence surrounding the benefits of drinking lemon water, but not much scientific evidence for the practice. However, by including studies into the health benefits from lemons, we can deduce more from how incorporating them in our everyday diet can improve our health.

Let’s take a look first at the nutritional properties of lemon juice. According to the website NutritionData (opens in new tab), the juice from one lemon contains:

  • Energy: 11.7 calories (kcal)
  • Vitamin C: 21.6 milligrams (mg)
  • Folate: 6.1 micrograms (mcg)
  • Calcium: 3.3 mg
  • Magnesium 2.8 mg
  • Phosphorus: 2.8 mg
  • Potassium: 58.3mg

NutritionData (opens in new tab) says that lemon juice is a good source of folate and potassium and a very good source of vitamin C. It’s also very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and salt. Here’s how the clinical evidence stacks up in favor of lemons and lemon water:

A 2017 review published in the peer-reviewed journal, Nutrients (opens in new tab), compared the benefits of ingesting vitamin C with topical application of creams and ointments. It found that having more vitamin C in the diet helped the skin to heal faster and reduce the appearance of scars. 

Moreover, a study the year before in the journal of Food Chemistry (opens in new tab) found that the vitamin C in ‘citrus based juice mixtures’ helped to suppress wrinkle formation in hairless mice, by stimulating collagen production.

Large doses of vitamin C can also be effective in protecting the body’s immune system, protecting it from infection. A study by researchers that was published in Nutrients (opens in new tab) in 2017 found that 200mg of vitamin C a day could treat respiratory infections, such as the common cold and even pneumonia.

According to NutritionData (opens in new tab), lemons contain around 139% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, so they’re a great place to start when it comes to upping your daily intake. The calcium and potassium found in lemons may also help to reduce blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism (opens in new tab) found that women who ingested lemons daily and combined this with exercise  had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t, although it's not clear from the study whether the participants drank lemon juice or ate the flesh.

Finally, there’s less clinical evidence to support the use of lemon as an aid to digestion and weight loss, but an abundance of anecdotal support. If you take lemon water instead of fruit juices or sodas, you’ll be slashing your calorie intake, which will help you lose weight. Staying hydrated can also help to boost weight loss, by reducing water retention, so it’s a win-win!

Lemon water: Considerations

It's worth noting that, despite the potential benefits, lemon water could increase the risk of enamel erosion, because of the acidity of the water. When enamel is worn away, it exposes the underlying dentin and may cause you to experience sensitivity.

However, there are some simple ways to drink your lemon water without damaging your tooth enamel: 

  • Brush your teeth before drinking and rinse your mouth with plain water afterwards.
  • Use juice from a fresh lemon, not concentrated, commercial juice.
  • Drink it through a straw to minimize contact with your teeth.
  • Wait an hour before you brush your teeth. Acids soften tooth enamel, and brushing this could damage it further.

How can I make lemon water at home?

This part is super easy! Simply slice up a lemon and put as many slices into a cup of just-boiled water as you wish. Or you can squeeze the lemon or use a juicer to extract the juice first and then add it to your beverage. Make sure you remove any pips first and allow the water to cool a little before drinking.

You can also boil the lemon in the water, by quartering or slicing the fruit, and adding it to a pot of boiling water. Allow to simmer or boil for 3 minutes, before cooling and drinking. If you find lemon water too bitter, you can add a little honey to sweeten.


References

Kato, Y., Domoto, T., Hiramitsu, M., Katagiri, T., Sato, K., Miyake, Y., Aoi, S., Ishihara, K., Ikeda, H., Umei, N., Takigawa, A., & Harada, T. (2014). Effect on Blood Pressure of Daily Lemon Ingestion and Walking. Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, 2014, 1–6. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2014/912684/ (opens in new tab)

Kim, D. B., Shin, G. H., Kim, J. M., Kim, Y. H., Lee, J. H., Lee, J. S., Song, H. J., Choe, S. Y., Park, I. J., Cho, J. H., & Lee, O. H. (2016). Antioxidant and anti-ageing activities of citrus-based juice mixture. Food Chemistry, 194, 920–927. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0308814615013023?via%3Dihub (opens in new tab)

Lemon juice, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories. (2018). NutritionData. Retrieved April 14, 2022, from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1938/2 (opens in new tab)

SARI, A., SELİM, N., & DİLEK, M. (2012). Effect of lemon juice on blood pressure. Journal of Experimental and Clinical Medicine, 29(1), 38–41. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272881356_Effect_of_lemon_juice_on_blood_pressure (opens in new tab)

Joanne Lewsley is a UK-based freelance writer and editor, covering health and lifestyle news and features. She mainly creates evidence-based health and parenting content and has worked with a number of global sites, including BabyCentre UK, Medical News Today, Fit & Well, Top Ten Reviews, and Yahoo!