There is one very simple thing you can do each morning to improve your overall health. It’s quick and inexpensive, and you only need one ingredient. All you need to do is drink a glass of warm water with the juice of a lemon.
Though lemon water has many benefits, such as improved hydration and detoxification, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid nasty side effects, the main one being enamel erosion. To find out more, keep reading or skip to the summary at the end.
Pros of lemon water
Drinking enough water is essential. The human body needs water to flush out toxins and carry nutrients to the cells. When you are dehydrated, your body isn’t able to function properly and as a result you may experience headaches, fatigue, or dizziness.
According to some studies, most adults don’t drink enough water; if they do, their body may still be dehydrated because they consume too much salt, coffee, or alcohol. This is especially true if the weather is hot or they exercise and sweat.
The first benefit of drinking lemon water is — you guessed it — hydration. Drinking a big glass of lemon water as soon as you wake up is the easiest way to guarantee that your body will stay hydrated, at least during the first part of the day.
Lemon is one of the best sources of vitamin C, which is also called ascorbic acid. Drinking the juice of a single lemon will provide your body with roughly a third of the daily recommended amount.
But why is vitamin C so important? For one, it helps your body grow and repair tissue. It’s also essential to your immune system: it helps you prevent and fight viruses and infections. Ascorbic acid is also a powerful antioxidant, especially when consumed from natural sources, such as lemon juice. You can take supplements, but they won’t be as beneficial.
While you want to make sure you get vitamin C throughout the day, drinking a glass of warm lemon water in the morning will help you reach the recommended amount easily. Lemon juice also contains small amounts of potassium and vitamin B6.
Low calories, low sugar
Many people like to have fruit juice for breakfast. If it’s fresh, raw, cold pressed juice, then it will be low in calories, and 100 percent healthy. The problem is that most people drink processed fruit juice, which contains a lot more sugar and not so many vitamins and minerals.
If you are used to drinking processed juice in the morning, lemon water could be the perfect alternative: it still tastes great, but it is basically calorie free and sugar free.
Moreover, many people notice that drinking lemon water in the morning makes them feel full, and decreases their appetite and food cravings. If you want your hunger levels to drop, either because you want to lose weight or practice intermittent fasting, give it a try.
Detoxification and digestion
Apparently, lemon water can help the liver flush out toxins. Just like most sour foods, lemon juice is good for the liver, which is responsible for getting rid of harmful chemicals. Some studies have shown that lemon consumption may also balance the enzymes in the liver.
Moreover, drinking lemon water on an empty stomach aids the production of stomach acid, and helps you digest the following meal (unless you drink too much, of course). Lemon juice can also help you digest fats.
Make sure you drink warm lemon water — even during the summer, or when it’s hot. Our gut is heat sensitive, so cold water would basically shock your stomach, and it won’t be as beneficial for digestion. Even Ayurveda, one of the world’s oldest healing systems, recommends you drink warm fluids and avoid cold food.
Cons of lemon water
The bad news: because lemon is very acidic and has a pH of about 2, it can ruin the enamel of your teeth. If you drink lemon water, over time it can cause irreversible damage to your teeth by eroding the enamel end exposing the dentine. This can change the color of your teeth and make them sensitive to hot or cold food.
The good news: there are some simple things you can do to prevent enamel erosion, even if you drink lemon water every day. First, make sure you always use a straw, so the juice goes down with minimal contact with your teeth; then rinse with water.
Wait a minimum of thirty minutes before you brush your teeth (so that they can remineralize) and when you do, use a soft toothbrush, and don’t brush too vigorously. This will help you avoid acid erosion and protect the enamel.
Lemons — as well as other fruits and vegetables such as lime, orange, parsley, and celery — contain a natural compound called psoralen, which has been shown to increase skin sensitivity to light.
Apparently, drinking lemon water is fine, however make sure there’s no traces of lemon juice left on your skin as it can cause a particularly painful kind of sunburn called phytophotodermatitis, or “Margarita burn”.
So when you drink your lemon water and go outside on a sunny day, you may want to wash your hands/face carefully. Psoralens can remain on your skin for up to 24 hours.
Cancer and acid reflux
Though citrus fruit is good for your immune system, some studies have suggested that there may be a link between acid fruit, such as lemon, and cancer. It is still not clear whether the studies are 100 percent accurate, however some experts have said that those who have cancer should avoid citrus fruit.
Lastly, if you suffer from GERD or acid reflux, then lemon water could trigger your symptoms. Some people swear by lemon water, and say that drinking it every morning (in small amounts) helps them deal with acid reflux; others say it causes discomfort. If you suffer from any digestive issue, check with your doctor first.
Lemon water and salt or ginger
Some people like to add a pinch of salt to their lemon water to improve hydration and water absorption. Himalayan salt (a pink salt which is harvested by hand, and isn’t as processed as table salt) contains 84 trace minerals and is generally considered to be the healthiest.
Alternatively, you can have lemon water with ginger — it’s an amazing root with antibacterial properties, which helps you stimulate digestion and lower blood sugar. Just grate a small piece of raw ginger and throw it in the water. You can also make ginger lemon tea.
Pros and cons of lemon water: summary
- Most adults are dehydrated either because they don’t drink enough water or because they consume too much salt, coffee, or alcohol; lemon water is the easiest way to force yourself to drink more
- Lemon is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is good for the immune system; one lemon typically contains a third of the recommended daily intake
- Lemon water has virtually zero calories and zero sugars, so it’s a great alternative to processed fruit juice; moreover, some people find that lemon water decreases their appetite and food cravings
- Drinking warm lemon water helps with detoxification and digestion, and may balance the enzymes in the liver
- Lemon is very acidic and can ruin the enamel of your teeth over time; to prevent enamel erosion, use a straw and rinse with water immediately after; wait a minimum of thirty minutes to brush your teeth
- Lemons contain a natural compound called psoralen, which has been shown to increase skin sensitivity to light. When it’s sunny, make sure there are no traces of lemon juice on your skin as it may cause severe long-lasting sunburn
- Some studies have suggested that there may be a link between acid fruit, such as lemon, and cancer. Moreover, those who suffer from digestive issues such as acid reflux or GERD may find that lemon juice triggers their symptoms, especially in large amounts
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