Health Benefits of Lemon Water
If you have been on a journey to improve your health for a while and looked on the internet for some knowledge to lose weight or body fat you probably came across the very popular advice of lemon juice, or more accurately lemon water.
Advertised by tons of personalities, celebrity doctors, and influencers all over the world, lemon water has been claimed to improve weight loss, detoxification, improved digestion, more energy, and even prevent cancer!
So let’s take a deep dive into the research and see if there is some truth to all of these claims or if you should just stick to lemon water for the nice flavor and have a sugar-free beverage available. Which is not quite a bad thing on its own.
Detoxing your body
Detox diets can be the topic of a whole article and have a wild array of health claims for detoxing the whole body or a specific organ. However, it is important to note that most of these programs are largely untested for their efficacy or even safety, and most are not clear on which substances are they supposed to detox or help with. So there’s a huge lack of real evidence to them.
The second important thing is to know that your body is already quite good at “detoxing” itself. Your liver, lungs, kidneys, and many other organs work non-stop to rid your body of harmful or toxic substances and provided you have not been poisoned recently you most likely don’t need a specific detoxing protocol to save your life.
However, there is small evidence that some foods might have a positive effect on the enzymes in the liver that help its function of detoxifying the body. A good example of this is broccoli sprouts, another one is the limonene present in lemons. This doesn’t mean that lemon water detoxifies the body but it might have a positive effect in helping the body detoxify itself. However, there is not enough evidence on the dosage or the extent of this effect, so this should be taken with a grain of salt.
Other common claims
Let’s see the other common claims of lemon water and the research to prove or debunk them:
LEMON WATER IMPROVES MOOD: This claim comes from the fact that the negative ions of the citrate in lemon could have a positive effect on mood and fighting depression or stress. However, there is limited research in this field, and seems to be more focused on the sense of smell, for example from inhaling lemon oil. There is no evidence linked to lemon water specifically unless it is used to fight a deficiency in vitamin C.
LEMON WATER AIDS WITH DIGESTION: There is some evidence that lemon juice could make stomach emptying slow down, thus improving nutrient absorption and slowing carbohydrate absorption, reducing postprandial glucose levels. But there is no evidence of a direct effect on aiding digestion or other digestive or absorption processes.
LEMON WATER CAN PROTECT FROM ACIDIC DIETS: This comes from the idea that alkalizing your blood’s pH can help prevent and fight disease. However, this doesn’t take into consideration that the body has a very efficient system of self-regulating its pH which wouldn’t allow for it to go to acidic or alkaline levels outside a safe range. Plus there is no research on water lemon proving it has this kind of effect on the body.
LEMON WATER CAN HELP PREVENT AND FIGHT CANCER: This claim comes from the fact that many phytochemicals present in lemons might have an effect on the processes related to cancer and cardiovascular disease. But there is a drawback that the dosage required to have an effect of those substances is not possible through ingesting the food on itself, or in this case in the form of lemon water Like the 500 mg of hesperidin needed to reduce blood pressure and inflammation versus the 20 mg present in 100mls of lemon juice.
Lemon water and weight loss
Probably one of the topics that are more interesting to us is if lemon water has any positive effect on our efforts to maintain healthy body weight and lose some body fat. And there seems to be some evidence that people who resort to consuming more lemon water might see some of these benefits. But there are some nice explanations for this phenomenon that might be quite helpful for us.
The first one is the good old caloric deficit that comes from reducing the intake of sugary drinks and subbing them for a sugar-free option like lemon water, this will result in a reduced amount of calories taken in daily and naturally in weight loss.
The second explanation can come from increasing water intake, which in itself can aid in weight loss, but more specifically the common practice of having some lemon water before meals, which is basically getting some water before eating. This has been shown to help regulate the amount of food eaten, leading to a caloric deficit, leading to weight loss.
And lastly, some experimenting with mice has shown that some phytochemicals (substances found exclusively in plant foods) in lemon peels might increase beta-oxidation of fatty acids and prevent obesity. This, however, has not been tested in humans so it doesn’t guarantee a positive correlation to our weight loss efforts.
Are there any negative effects?
Besides the fact that it can be difficult to get used to the taste of lemon when including it regularly in our diets, there is one danger that has to be taken into account. And that is the erosion of tooth enamel from the acidic nature of lemon juice. Especially if we consider the popular advice of ingesting lemon water on an empty stomach or before food.
Is there something you can do to prevent it? Certainly, there is. If you want to include some lemon water instead of sugary drinks or to get an extra shot of vitamin C. You can avoid brushing your teeth directly after consuming lemon water, not consuming it on an empty stomach but with your meals, chew sugar-free gum to neutralize pH, or try supplementing with erythritol to protect the tooth enamel.
Here is our general advice if you’re interested in adding lemon water to your nutritional repertoire and how to do it safely.
Keep in mind there is not a lot of conclusive evidence for most of the health claims of consuming lemon water.
There seems to be some positive association between lemon water and maintaining a healthy weight, getting enough vitamin C or getting a lot of phytonutrients.
Lemon water can be a good tool to get some more water in, change sugary drinks for a sugar-free option and thus reduce total calorie intake.
Be careful with your teeth! Try our advice of having lemon water with some food, not brushing your teeth right after having your lemon water, chewing sugar-free gum, or try erythritol as a sweetener
As always, try it out slowly and be mindful of the effect it has on you. If you like it and see some positive effects keep going, otherwise just discard it and move on.