So about a year ago, I started drinking a tall glass of lemon water first thing each morning. The natural concoction is touted for its beneficial effects on your overall health—from boosting the digestive system and immunity to encouraging natural cleansing. Not only that, but a simple squeeze of fresh lemon is jam-packed with potassium, vitamin B and C, calcium, magnesium, antioxidants, and iron.
Here are a whopping 17 dreamy reasons to wake up to lemon water…
1. Promotes Healthy Hydration
Water is essential for health and energy. However, many people don’t appreciate the taste of plain old H20. Try squeezing a small sliver of lemon in your water—and voila—the tangy citrus takes the flavor up a notch without adding calories from sugar. In fact, you can slice a few lemon wedges to toss into your water bottle to promote healthy hydration all day long!
If lemon isn’t enough, you can also add sprigs of fresh herbs, think fresh mint or fresh basil. A few slices of scored cucumber will also add a bit of crispness to plain old water without adding any calories, refined sugars, or fake flavors. If you don’t favor the taste of lemon, you can also add some sass with other types of citrus. Try wedges of lime, mandarin oranges, or pink grapefruit.
2. Source of Vitamin C
Most people think the best way to bulk up on vitamin C is by eating oranges, and while that might be true, there are other options out there! Lemon water can also do the trick! Because lemons are technically a citrus fruit, they also contain a good amount of vitamin C. It’s true they don’t have more vitamin C than an orange. Despite this, they’re still a great option.
Why do we need vitamin C? Well, for starters it’s an antioxidant that protects cells from damaging free radicals, says Healthline. It also has the ability to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as lower blood pressure.
3. Enhances Immunity
Another use for foods high in vitamin C, like lemons, is their immune-boosting ability in the face of colds and flu. That means, a daily dose of lemon water will keep germs and viruses at bay, even when those around you have the sneezes and sniffles. And starting off the day with a boost of vitamin C is a great way to ward off all sorts of germs, viruses, as well as preventing you from catching that cold that’s circulating the office.
Research published in the National Institutes of Health links drinking lemon water daily to boosting the effectiveness of the lymphatic system. Vitamin C is necessary to help the immune system operate at peak proportions, and squeezing a little lemon in your H20 first thing in the morning is the best, natural way to help your body absorb a good portion of vitamin C right off the bat.
4. Diminish Inflammation
Over 116 million American adults (or one third of the US population) suffer with chronic pain. Medical experts pinpoint inflammation as one of the body’s oldest defense mechanisms against infection, toxins, or injury. As the body responds, excess fluid, white blood cells, uric acid, and blood swell within traumatized tissues, resulting in edema, and often, chronic inflammatory conditions (i.e., osteoporosis and fibromyalgia). However, lemons decrease uric acid in joints, helping to prevent chronic acid built-up.
With pain pill addiction on the rise, Dr. James N. Dillard, author of the book, The Chronic Pain Solution, says that “No matter [the] medication you prescribe…chronic [pain] sufferers don’t get complete relief…[but] there’s an alternative, and it’s right in your kitchen.” Dr. Dillard points to certain natural foods, like lemons, which ease pain and fight inflammation.
5. Antibacterial and Antiviral Benefits
You might squeeze lemon in your tea when you feel a cold coming on—just because that’s what mom used to do. However, she did so because of the huge antibacterial and antiviral benefits of lemons, which ease flu, cold symptoms (i.e., sore throat) and prevent their reoccurrence.
According to studies from Ohio State University, the scent of lemons not only improves brain function and mood, this energizing little fruit also protects the body from all sorts of flus, colds, and gastro-intestinal woes thanks to it’s many antimicrobial properties. For instance, lemon juice and lemon oil have both been linked to decreasing the prevalence of fungal, bacterial, and viral infections, and can be used internally to fight and reduce the symptoms of colds and flu.
6. Enhances Digestion
If your digestive system is a far cry from a well-oiled machine, a daily lemon water can provide balance within. For instance, lemon provides natural alkalinity to balance stomach acids, promoting the ability to flush toxins from the digestive tract, and reduce gastrointestinal issues—such as constipation, heartburn, bloating, and indigestion.
In fact, a study conducted in the food science department at Purdue University discovered that citrus juices when paired with green tea (i.e., green tea with lemon) increased the antioxidant prowess of green tea, further simulating digestion. Findings revealed that when green tea was complimented with citrus juices high in vitamin C, the natural catechins (or naturally occurring antioxidants) found in green tea were doubled during bodily absorption.
7. Put on Your Smarty Pants
It would be nice to be able to put on literal smarty-pants every morning. While it turns out that lemon provides a pair of metaphorical slacks that you can slip on each day, thanks to the added potassium and magnesium that lemon delivers in support of brain and nerve health, and in turn, improved mental clarity and focus.
In fact, research studies conducted by Ohio State University, linked lemon juice and lemon oil aroma to positive physical and emotional effects on the brain. For instance, inhaling the scent of lemon increased norepinephrine, the brain’s feel-good chemical neurotransmitter, which significantly boosted energy and alertness, as well as brain functioning, mental alertness, and the general ability to focus.
8. Thwarts UTIs
You already know that lemons work to naturally flush out the digestive tract. The good news is that they don’t stop there; lemons also work as a natural diuretic to flush toxins from other organs, like the urinary tract, to prevent bacterial overgrowth and reoccurring UTIs as well as to lessen the aches and symptoms (i.e., fever) that comes with a bacterial infection of the kidneys, bladder, and/or urethra.
In addition to drinking more water to help dilute urine and flush bacteria out of your body, studies show that drinking water with lemon will alter the PH of the blood and urinary tract, preventing the further growth of bacteria. If you get repeat or chronic UTIs, making lemon water a part of your daily diet can keep your urinary health in check by reducing bacteria in the urine and by preventing bacteria from attaching to the wall of the urinary tract.
9. Cancer Fighter
We’ve already established that one of the major benefits of lemons is their neutralizing affect on stomach acid to ease digestion and prevent inflammation. However, keeping body acids low also helps to ward off the growth of certain types of cancer (which tend to grow in acidic surroundings). This is because lemons, particularly lemon peels, are rich in terpenes like d-limonene, which harness several anticancer benefits, which treat and prevent several forms of cancer.
According to a study from Cancer Center at University of Arizona, d-limonene supplementation in a group of 43 women newly diagnosed with operable breast cancer reduced tumor markers by roughly 22-percent. The women were prescribed 2 grams of limonene, every day, for a two to six week duration prior to surgery.
10. Naturally Freshens Breath
Leave the store-bought mouthwash on the shelf. Lemons are the natural way to freshen your breath and banish nasty bacteria from your mouth and gums. Just be sure to squeeze a bit of lemon into the water to prevent citric acid from wearing away your protective tooth enamel. Studies suggest that everything from poor digestion to lactose intolerance can be the source of bad breath, or worse, chronic halitosis.
A natural breath freshener, like lemon juice or a fresh lemon wedge squeeze into a glass of water, can rinse your mouth, gums, and teeth of any nasty bacteria lingering within. Just be sure to thoroughly rinse your mouth after drinking lemon juice, as the acidic remnants can wear away at your teeth’s protective enamel.
11. Glowing Skin
Antioxidants are plentiful in beauty products, particularly moisturizers, for their ability to ward off free radical damage, which causes premature aging (i.e., age spots, crow’s feet, and fine lines). Luckily, lemon is rich in an essential antioxidant, vitamin C, which wards off wrinkles and blemishes, and promotes skin elasticity.
Research from the University of Maryland Medical Center, suggests that the natural citric acids found in lemons (or the Alpha hydroxy acids, or AHAs) have been linked to stimulating fresh elastin and collagen production as well as encoring the shedding of dead skin cells. Findings link lemons to curing all sorts of problems related to the skin–from healing sunburn, acne, and eczema to lemon’s effectiveness as an anti-aging, wrinkle-preventing natural wonder.
12. Promote Weight Loss
I’ll take any help in this department! While lemon water alone won’t help you shed off those extra pounds, it’s a great way to help the process along. Our bodies need lots of water on a daily basis to function properly and stay healthy, so an increase in water is the perfect place to start for any health kick. There are many studies that have shown drinking water with a meal helps curb cravings and limit intake.
Healthline backs this claim up by citing a study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition which “showed that polyphenol antioxidants found in lemons significantly reduced weight gain caused by a high-fat diet in mice.” It’s true this study has yet to be performed in humans, so it’s still a little far-fetched, but the source assures the anecdotal evidence is strong and there are still so many great health benefits behind drinking more water.
13. Prevent Kidney Stones
Any person who has suffered from kidney stones knows that these hard deposits are small, but boy, they sure can cause a lot of pain! Dr. Axe lists just a few of their symptoms which include, “back and abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and blood in the urine.”
An increase in citric acid could help prevent calcium kidney stones or at least decrease the risk, says UW Health, so for those prone to developing kidney stones, filling up on lemon water ain’t such a bad idea. Not only do the lemons provide that citric acid needed to prevent the stones, but drinking water is also another way to help prevent stones. It’s a win-win!
Healthline notes that ½ cup of lemon juice will provide the same amount of citric acid as any prescription variety.
14. Gives Energy and Boosts Mood
Most of us turn to a morning cup of coffee to get that much-needed boost of energy to start the day, but we don’t have to turn to caffeine to get that fix. Lemon water is capable of boosting energy. Dr. Axe explains it by saying that our bodies need the atoms and molecules in the food to function properly. “When negatively charged ions, like those found in lemons, enter your digestive tract, the result is a natural increase in energy levels,” writes the source.
15. May Help Liver Function
We’ve already reiterated in this article that water in general is good for the body. It not only keeps us hydrated, but it improves overall health, including those organs that help us function each and every day. “Boosting overall hydration can help improve the function of all organs in the body, including the liver,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies to Reader’s Digest.
“In addition, animal studies have found that the citrus flavonoids in lemon may protect the liver against toxins and reduce fat in the liver, protecting against fatty liver disease,” says Palinski-Wade. While we already have a natural detoxification system in our body, also known as the liver, lemon water can give it that extra boost it might need to help flush out those toxins.
16. Regular Bowel Movements
Not only does it give your liver a much-needed boost, but it could also help with constipation and overall bowel health by making you more regular. “Increasing fluid intake can help to promote regular bowel movements,” says Palinski-Wade while talking to Reader’s Digest. “If adding lemon to your water helps you to drink more fluid throughout the day, this may help you to become more regular.”
Improve bowel movements even more by adding an extra boost of fiber by adding in some of the pulp and zest from the peel.
17. Potassium Boost
According to Reader’s Digest who talked to Roxanne B. Sukol, MD, medical director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Enterprise, lemons are not only a good source of vitamin C, but potassium as well! “Potassium is found in large amounts primarily in fruits and vegetables,” says Dr. Sukol. “It is an element that is essential for cell function and metabolism, transmission of nerve signals.”
The University of Maryland Medical Center also notes that potassium gives us electrolytes which are what help conduct electricity in our body. Our skeletal-muscular function depends on good nerve-muscle communication, so drinking lots of lemon water is definitely a good thing!