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Drinking lemon water is fast becoming a popular everyday trend among the health-conscious. Science vouches for this habit through a number of health benefits brought about by vitamin C and other protective agents in the citrus fruit
It's fast becoming a familiar concept: lemon water for detox, or as a refreshing start to your day instead of a cup of joe or tea. Given lemon's proven benefits such as being a powerful antioxidant, this drink has the potential to make meaningful changes to your health when consumed regularly.
Lemon water is simply the juice of the fruit mixed with water. The amount of lemon juice in it is mostly a personal preference, and the drink may be taken hot or cold. Some people add other components to lemon water, including mint leaf, honey, ginger, cinnamon or turmeric.
Lemons, along with other citrus fruits, are high in vitamin C, a leading antioxidant that helps protect against free radical damage.[i] According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of raw lemon juice offers 38.7 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, with the recommended daily amount for adults sitting at 65 to 90 mg.[ii]
Lemon water also helps enhance the taste and flavor of water, which remains the best beverage for hydration. This helps adults and children alike drink more every day. Here are five more compelling reasons to reach for a cup of lemon water today.
Five Reasons to Drink Lemon Water
1. Prevent Kidney Stones
Lemons have plenty of citric acid, where consuming just four ounces of lemon juice daily has been shown to significantly increase urine citrate levels without consequently increasing oxalate levels. Lemon water not only supplies citrate but also the water needed to flush out stones if they are already present.
2. It's Heart-Friendly
In a 2015 study, researchers tested a lemon detox program involving a low-calorie diet supplemented with lemon juice in reducing body weight and body fat mass, thus lowering insulin resistance and other known cardiovascular risks.[iv]
After the 11-day study period -- seven days with the lemon detox juice or placebo, and four days with transitioning food -- the researchers noted that changes in body weight, body mass index, percentage of body fat as well as waist-hip ratio were notably greater in the group that took lemon detox juice or placebo than those who had no dietary changes.
The lemon detox program was found to slash body fat and insulin resistance due to calorie restriction, and therefore may have a potential benefit on risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In addition, those in the lemon group experienced reductions in C-reactive protein levels, a marker of inflammation. Plant compounds found in lemons, such as hesperidin, have also been found to help optimize cholesterol levels.[v]
3. Support Weight Loss
Water on its own may help you feel full longer, with research showing that drinking water with a meal may reduce hunger while increasing satiety.[vi] Low-calorie and accessible, lemon water can also promote fullness and reduce calorie intake the way regular water can.
In a study of 173 premenopausal overweight women ages 25 to 50, greater water intake translated to significant loss of body weight along with fat over time, regardless of their diet or physical exercise.[vii]
4. Antiviral and Antibacterial Properties
Lemon acts as a biocide against Vibrio cholerae, an agent responsible for cholera epidemics, and is deemed an efficient decontaminant without posing unnecessary harm to humans.[viii] Findings also point to citrate as a sound treatment against the human norovirus, a dominant cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide.[ix] In fact, a number of norovirus disinfectants label citric acid as one of their active ingredients.
Lemon juice, along with lemongrass, has also been found to have therapeutic value in the treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients.[x]
5. Anticancer Properties
A systematic review of 22 papers strongly corroborates the role of citrus juices and their derivative products as a potential tool against cancer.[xi] A 2000 study also suggested that intake of flavanone, a type of flavonoid, is inversely associated with esophageal cancer risk.[xii] Along with vitamin C in citrus fruits, it may account for protective effects against this kind of cancer.
To answer the question posed in the title means considering all these lemon water benefits and more and incorporating them in your daily routine. You can have a mug of warm lemon water in the morning to kick-start your day, or add a few lemon slices to your bottle or pitcher of water in the fridge for the entire day. Lemon ice cubes also come in handy for a glass of water as desired.
Lemon juice offers pro-heart, weight-friendly, antimicrobial and other holistic benefits that have been backed by science and, likely, more that are waiting to be discovered.
[ii] USDA, Lemon Juice, Raw https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167747/nutrients
[iii] Gul Z et al "Medical and Dietary Therapy for Kidney Stone Prevention" Korean J Urol. 2014 Dec; 55(12): 775-779. Epub 2014 Nov 28.
[iv] Kim M et al "Lemon detox diet reduced body fat, insulin resistance, and serum hs-CRP level without hematological changes in overweight Korean women" Nutr Res. 2015 May ;35(5):409-20. Epub 2015 Apr 10.
[v] Sun Choi G et al "Evaluation of hesperetin 7-O-lauryl ether as lipid-lowering agent in high-cholesterol-fed rats" Bioorg Med Chem. 2004 Jul 1;12(13):3599-605. doi: 10.1016/j.bmc.2004.04.020.
[vi] Lappalainen R et al "Drinking water with a meal: a simple method of coping with feelings of hunger, satiety and desire to eat" Eur J Clin Nutr. 1993 Nov;47(11):815-9.
[vii] Stookey J et al "Drinking water is associated with weight loss in overweight dieting women independent of diet and activity" Obesity (Silver Spring). 2008 Nov;16(11):2481-8. Epub 2008 Sep 11.
[viii] De Castillo M et al "Bactericidal activity of lemon juice and lemon derivatives against Vibrio cholerae" Biol Pharm Bull. 2000 Oct;23(10):1235-8.
[x] Wright S et al "Treatment of oral thrush in HIV/AIDS patients with lemon juice and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus) and gentian violet" Phytomedicine. 2009 Mar;16(2-3):118-24. Epub 2008 Dec 23.
[xi] Cirmi S et al "Anticancer Potential of Citrus Juices and Their Extracts: A Systematic Review of Both Preclinical and Clinical Studies" Front Pharmacol. 2017; 8: 420. Epub 2017 Jun 30.
[xii] Rossi M et al "Flavonoids and risk of squamous cell esophageal cancer" Arch Intern Med. 2000 Apr 10;160(7):1009-13.