Starting your day with lemon water is a ritual that comes with a lot of lofty promises. From being a weight-loss cure to making your skin glow like you just stepped out of the spa, this popular beverage trend is not going away any time soon.
Lemon water – which is simply water and lemon juice mixed together – is certainly a refreshing and convenient drink to enjoy. Drinking lemon water is most notably connected to the alkaline diet, which theorizes that eating alkalizing foods can balance our pH levels and prevent a whole host of illnesses. Even though lemon juice naturally has a low pH and is considered acidic before consumed, it’s actually alkalizing after consumption. “Despite its low pH, lemon juice is considered alkaline-forming because after it’s metabolized it leaves an alkaline ash in the body,” explains registered dietitian Lauren O’Connor, RDN, owner of Nutri Savvy Health and author of The Healthy Alkaline Diet Guide.
Although there is no conclusive scientific evidence to support this theory, acidic ash—rather than alkaline ash—may increase one’s risk of certain diseases, like osteoporosis. Conversely, alkaline ash is thought to be protective of certain negative health outcomes. Eating more foods that are alkaline in the body is thought to “alkalize” one’s body and therefore offer protection. Alkaline foods are not limited to lemon water and include other fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Looking for a vitamin C boost during cold and flu season? The juice of one lemon contains 18 mg of vitamin C. For reference, adults need between 75 and 130 mg of this vitamin depending on their gender and stage of life.
Starting the day with a boost of vitamin C from lemon juice helps the body’s immune defense. While one cup of lemon water likely won’t meet 100% of your daily needs, it starts your day with a head-start of getting in enough of this important nutrient. Grab a kiwi on your way out the door, and you will essentially get your vitamin C fill for the day, or at least come very close.
“Lemons are naturally acidic with a pH between 2 and 3. That is bad news for acid reflux sufferers because acidic foods trigger heartburn and can irritate an already inflamed throat (a symptom of Silent Reflux)”, explains O’Connor.
Citrate, a salt in citric acid, binds to calcium and helps block kidney stone formation. Citrus fruits and juices are a known natural source of dietary citrate. Of all the citrus juices, lemon juice appears to have the highest concentration of this kidney stone-blocking salt.
Data suggests that those who are at risk of developing kidney stones and consume lemon juice consistently experience a reduced rate of passing kidney stones when compared with those who do not consume lemon juice. Note that much of the data examining the relationship between lemon juice intake and kidney stones used subjects who drank lemonade and not pure lemon juice.
Approximately 75% of Americans are dehydrated, meaning they are not taking in enough fluids. People who are dehydrated may experience constipation and dizziness along with other symptoms of not drinking enough water. Drinking lemon water gets fluid into your system – one of the best ways to combat dehydration. If you are adding lemon juice to your water simply because you enjoy the crisp taste, and as a result, it makes you drink more fluid, then by all means go to lemon water town!
“Any acidic beverage like lemon water will wear away tooth enamel over time,” explains Jack Hirschfeld, DDS, a clinical instructor at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s School of Dental Medicine. If you are slowly eroding your enamel – or outer layer of your teeth – you may be setting your teeth up for being more sensitive or prone to cavities down the road. Lemon water isn’t the only drink known to do this. It’s also on the list of What Happens To Your Body If You Drink Seltzer Every Day.
If you are willing to toss some garlic into your lemon water concoction, you may notice improved cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels.
According to data from a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, people who were considered hyperlipidemic (when your blood has too many fats) and who drank a beverage made of 20 grams of garlic and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice daily for 8 weeks had more improved cardiovascular outcomes when compared with people who did not take this beverage. Outcomes included improved blood pressure and improved lipid levels.
Citrus juices, like lemon juice, naturally contain a unique flavonoid called hesperidin. Consistent hesperidin intake has been linked to improved systolic blood pressure in people considered mildly hypertensive, among other positive outcomes.