Most of us have seen the Top 10 lists of why we should be drinking lemon water. But do we really know the added vitality and cleansing effects on the body lemon water provides?
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, rather be able 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 on the body. If you're just getting started on a path of feeling better through diet change then making a replacement of lemon water for a morning coffee 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 lemon water
3. Write down how you feel on day 1, then on day 14
4. Let us know what you experienced.
What We Know About Lemons
Botanically, it is a citrus fruit in the Rutaceae family (scientifically known as Citrus Limon), and while being the smallest in its family has more comprehensive health benefits than its family members (1).
They are likely to have originated in India around the Himalayan foothills and spread from there. The two main types of lemons are the Lisbon and Eureka. There are other's that have come into vogue such as the sweeter Meyer Lemons.
The fruit is lower in calories about 29 per 100 grams, which makes it one of the lower in its family.
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 of vitamin C).
Vitamin C has been studied extensively and shown to have a myriad of health benefits from protecting against prenatal problems, cardiovascular disease, eye diseases, skin wrinkles, and immune system deficiencies (4).
It acts as an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals (5).
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. Two of the more well known studies shed some light on the use of lemon as a cleanse:
* As published by Dutch researchers in a 2002 edition of the European Journal of Nutrition, lemon peels and the waste stream of the lemon peels are effective in lowering blood and liver cholesterol levels. Although performed on animal subjects, these results insinuate that lemon peel consumption could be beneficial to those with fatty liver disease.
* As published by Indian researchers in a 2005 edition of BMC Pharmacology, hesperidin (a citrus bioflavonoid found in lemons) demonstrates the ability to protect the liver from damage. After administration of CCl4 (a well known liver toxin), the authors concluded that hesperidin demonstrates a protective effect on the liver (6).
Our liver is where we filter everything we consume and neutralize many toxins. We've covered the various methods of cleansing with related products like apple cider vinegar.
These studies shed light on the lemon's ability to enhance the liver's function of filtering out unwanted toxins.
The main premise behind lemon water as a detox revolves around its ability to enhance your bodies enzyme function and stimulate the liver.
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 it's ability to inhibit certain synthesis of fat in the body (7).
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 start 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).
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.
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 we recommend getting some home pH strips that will allow you to stay within the recommend ranges.
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.
In one study these two substance increased fat metabolism, increased HDL (good) cholesterol & lowered LDL (bad) cholesterol and decreased the production of inflammation (15).
The main study was carried out by Drs. Sheau C. Chai, Shirin Hooshmand, Raz L. Saadat, and Bahram Arjmandi, of Florida State University.
"It's a Slow Process Don't Make it Slower by Quitting."