The health benefits of lemon water have a lot. Because lemon water is a popular home remedy, online sources claim that it can help improve digestion, detox the body, or promote weight loss. Lemon water is simply the juice of lemons mixed with water. The amount of lemon juice in lemon water depends on the person’s preference. People may drink it cold or hot. Some people also choose to add lemon rind, mint leaf, honey, turmeric, or other ingredients.
Lemon water has become a popular morning beverage, with people using it as a refreshing pick-me-up due to claims that it can boost energy levels and metabolism. Here we are going to discuss the benefits of lemon water and its side effects.
Lemon Water Nutrition
Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. In fact, one squeezed lemon provides around 21% of a person’s daily value (DV). Like other citrus fruits — including oranges, grapefruit, and limes — lemons are rich in flavonoids. These are compounds that help boost health and fight disease.
Aside from that, lemons contain few nutrients. Lemon water contains very little protein, fat, carbohydrate, or sugar, and it contains only trace amounts of other vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folate, and some B vitamins.
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
Although a single glass does not seem to provide a lot of nutrients, lemon water is a healthful, low calorie, and low sugar beverage that can boost a person’s vitamin C intake.
For comparison, replacing the lemon with the juice of half an orange (weighing 43 g) would provide almost twice as many calories, about three times as much sugar, and 24% DV of vitamin C. The nutritional value of each glass of lemon water depends on how much lemon juice it contains, as well as any other ingredients.
Health Benefits of Lemon Water
Give your immune system a boost
Vitamin C is like our immune system’s jumper cables, and lemon juice is full of it. The level of vitamin C in your system is one of the first things to plummet when you’re stressed, which is why experts recommended popping extra vitamin C during, especially stressful days.
Excellent source of potassium
As already mentioned, lemons are high in potassium, which is good for heart health, as well as brain and nerve function.
Lemon juice not only encourages healthy digestion by loosening toxins in your digestive tract, but also helps to relieve symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, burping, and bloating.
Cleanse your system
It helps flush out the toxins in your body by enhancing enzyme function, and stimulating your liver.
Freshen your breath
It helps relieve toothaches and gingivitis. The citric acid can erode tooth enamel, either hold off on brushing your teeth after drinking lemon water or brush your teeth before drinking it.
Keep your skin blemish-free
The antioxidants in lemon juice help not only decrease blemishes but wrinkles too! It can also be applied to scars and age spots to reduce their appearance. Because it’s detoxifying your blood, it will maintain your skin’s radiance.
Help you lose weight
Lemons contain pectin fiber, which assists in fighting hunger cravings.
If you drink lemon water on a regular basis, it will decrease the acidity in your body, which is where disease states occur. It removes uric acid in your joints, which is one of the main causes of inflammation.
Give you an energy boost
Lemon juice provides your body with energy when it enters your digestive tract. It also helps reduce anxiety and depression. (Even the scent of lemons has a calming effect on your nervous system!)
Help to cut out caffeine
Replacing your morning coffee with a cup of hot lemon water can really do wonders. You will feel refreshed and no longer have to deal with that pesky afternoon crash. Your nerves will be thankful too.
Help fight viral infections
Warm lemon water is the most effective way to diminish viral infections and their subsequent sore throats. Plus, with the lemon juice also boosting your immune system, you’ll simultaneously fight off the infection completely.
Helps you stay hydrated
Most of us don’t drink enough water. A daily lemon water habit is an easy way to get your day off on the right foot. How do you know if you’re drinking enough? Your urine is almost clear.
Like all produce, lemons contain phytonutrients, which protect your body against disease. These phytonutrients have powerful antioxidant properties, which prevent cell damage from oxidation, the same mechanism that causes rust.
Supplies a healthy dose of vitamin C
Juice half a lemon into your water and you’ll add a mere 6 calories to your diet. Plus you’ll get more than a sixth of your daily vitamin C, which is needed to protect us from cell damage and repair injury.
Provides a potassium boost
Your body can’t function without potassium. It’s necessary for nerve-muscle communication, transporting nutrients, and waste and blood pressure regulation. Fruits and vegetables are important sources of potassium.
Helps prevent kidney stones
Lemon water helps prevent painful stones in those deficient in urinary citrate (a form of citric acid). More importantly, increased fluids help prevent dehydration — a common cause of kidney stones.
Lemon Water Side Effects
Drinking lemon water regularly can cause enamel erosion or tooth decay because of the acid in the citrus fruit. Too much lemon water can also lead to heartburn, nausea, vomiting, and other gastroesophageal reflux symptoms.
It can upset your stomach
Just like anything else, too much lemon juice is harmful. Though studies have not ascertained that the acidic nature of lemon worsens stomach-related complications, there is some evidence that too much lemon can cause heartburn.
Can increase the iron content
Lemon is rich in vitamin C which is responsible for increasing the absorption of non-heme iron in the body. If you have a hemochromatosis condition that causes your body to store excess iron, it means you should be careful when taking lemon. According to research, excess iron in the body can damage your organs.
Can trigger migraine
To some people, citrus foods such as lemon can trigger migraines. According to studies, if you experience or suffered migraines, then having too much lemon can worsen or trigger back the condition.
May decay tooth enamel
A study discusses a female patient (smoker) who experienced an erosion of the enamel and dentinal hypersensitivity following the frequent consumption of lemon juice (lemon water). Excess intake of lemon water may lead to acidic demineralization of the tooth enamel.
Another Brazilian study proved the same. Lemon juice displayed corrosive effects on the teeth similar to that of soft drinks. All of them are equally acidic. Brushing your teeth immediately after consuming lemon water may help prevent erosion. You may also start brushing and flossing twice a day for better results. You may also drink lemon water using a straw to prevent tooth decay.
May cause sunburns
Certain studies indicate that heading out into the sun after applying lemon juice to your skin can cause blisters and dark spots. This condition is called phytophotodermatitis and is a worse form of sunburn. The culprits are the chemicals in lemon juice, called psoralens, which interact with sunlight and cause a burn.
In another study, citrus consumption was linked to an increased risk of melanoma (skin cancer). The effect was attributed to the presence of psoralens in most citrus fruits. However, further studies are needed to better understand the effects of citrus fruit/juice on skin health.
May aggravate canker sores
Canker sores are a form of mouth ulcers. These are shallow sores inside the mouth (or the base of the gums), and they are painful. Some research states that citric acid may provoke mouth ulcers. The mechanism of how citric acid may lead to this is yet to be understood.
The citric acid in lemons can worsen your sores and also cause more. Hence, ensure you don’t take lemons (or any citrus fruit) if you have canker sores. Wait for them to heal completely.
May aggravate heartburn
Some research considers citrus fruits to be causing heartburn or acid reflux. In studies, patients who complained of similar gastrointestinal symptoms were found to be consuming more citrus fruits and juices.
However, the information in this aspect is mixed. Anecdotal evidence suggests that lemon water can both hurt and help heartburn symptoms. If you have heartburn symptoms, it is best to check with your doctor before consuming lemon water (or other citrus foods/fluids).
It is also thought that lemon may activate pepsin, which is a stomach enzyme that breaks down proteins. Reflux of the digestive juices in the stomach is believed to activate the inactive pepsin molecules in the throat and esophagus, leading to heartburn. More research is needed to substantiate this.
Lemon juice may also decrease the effectiveness of the lower esophageal sphincter muscle and instead allow the stomach acid to splash up the esophagus. The juice may also worsen peptic ulcers. Ulcers are formed by excessively acidic digestive juices. Drinking lemon juice (and eating other acidic foods) can only make things worse.
Certain experts speculate that lemon juice can also trigger GERD symptoms. Hence, avoid lemons if these symptoms are triggered, as the response varies. The intake of lemon water on an empty stomach is also thought to trigger GERD symptoms, although there is no evidence to support this.
May lead to frequent urination
There is no research that proves that excess lemon water may lead to frequent urination. If you experience the same due to excess intake of lemon water, it may have more to do with the water, and not the lemon itself. Some believe that lemon juice, especially in a glass of warm water, can act as a diuretic.
It can increase urine output, and if this goes overboard, you may end up feeling dehydrated. This is because the juice from lemon rids your body of the excess water. In the process, it can also flush out excess amounts of electrolytes and sodium through urine. At times, it can flush out too much of them and cause dehydration. However, research is lacking in this aspect.