There is always a lot of hype around lemon water, especially in terms of weight loss. But is there any evidence as to whether or not it actually does anything for the body? Let’s dig a little deeper into why lemon water has been so popular, what its health benefits are, and if there are any negative side effects to drinking it.
What is lemon water?
To put it simply, lemon water is just lemon juice and water. People tend to enjoy drinking it in the morning before or after food. They drink it hot or cold, adding things like honey and herbs to help make it taste a bit nicer. When it comes to health benefits, the water itself might be the biggest player, but lemons do also provide the body with important nutrients, like vitamin C and potassium.
The health benefits
Some of the health claims for drinking lemon water every day are especially focused around better skin, better digestion and more effective weight loss.
According to the AUSNUT food database, 100 g of lemon juice contains 48 mg of vitamin C. By adding the juice of half a lemon to a large glass of water, you could be getting between 20-30% of your recommended daily intake (RDI), which is 45 mg. Getting enough vitamin C can help to reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health and fight off scurvy.
Lemon juice also contains potassium, which is required by the body for proper nerve function, and muscle and heart contractions. Without it, fatigue, muscle weakness and cramps can occur.
Although half a lemon’s worth of juice won’t get you your daily requirements right away, combining it with other nutrient-dense options like citrus fruits, tomatoes and capsicums will get you there.
2. Weight loss
Taking vitamin C supplements or drinking lemon water has not been proven to aid in weight loss. However, if you do tend to have a lot of sugary drinks throughout the day, swapping some of these out for lemon water will help with weight loss. Infusing your water with any fruit overnight will help add more flavour to it, making it more enjoyable if you’re trying to cut sugary drinks.
Hydrating your body is essential, especially in the morning after you’ve been asleep for your recommended 8 hours. Drinking enough water keeps our bodies working the way they should, keeping cells hydrated and organs functioning with fluid being replaced and replenished throughout the body constantly.
If you’re suffering from cold or flu symptoms, drinking lots of water or any hot liquids will help you feel better. Being adequately hydrated is also one of the biggest, if not the biggest, nutritional factor that impacts skin health. So if drinking lemon water helps you consume more water, it’s a win.
There is a myth that drinking lemon water helps to improve digestion. Our stomach cells excrete a lot of acid to break down the food we eat every day. Adding lemon to your water won’t help the stomach do more of a better job than it already does. But again, drinking water to stay hydrated will help some of the vitamins in your food get absorbed more easily. It also helps further down the proverbial line with healthy and regular bowel movements.
The negative side effects of lemon water
Even if you do drink it to keep hydrated, it is not recommended to drink it all day long. This can increase your risk of these negative side effects.
1. Tooth enamel erosion
Not only do you need to be careful of how much lemon water you’re drinking in a day, but also the amount of lemon juice you’re adding. Lemon juice is very acidic, which can eventually cause damage to tooth enamel. The enamel softens, which leads to staining and the risk of dental issues.
2. Stomach symptoms
If you’re someone who is prone to ulcers, the environment of your own stomach and the acid it produces may already be causing you issues. Adding extra acid through citrus fruits and others foods can worsen these issues, especially on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
Our final verdict
So answer the question, yes there are a few positives to drinking lemon water, but most of these are attributed to better hydration. Drinking plain water will give you the same benefits without the side effects. But if adding lemon to your water helps you drink more water, keep it up without overdoing it.
Lemon water isn’t the magic elixir it’s made out to be. It doesn’t have special properties that will help you feel or look better. That’s what water does; that’s where true magic happens. If you’re struggling to lose weight or to take in enough nutrients, consider booking a consultation with one of our experienced dietitians.