I’ll admit that a nice cool glass of lemon water sounds a little weird. It’s sour! Won’t it make your mouth pucker? Maybe. But for me, the benefits far outweigh the cost of any temporary discomfort — and it is actually pretty refreshing. The reason I know this is because, after hearing about the myriad health benefits it may provide, I’ve started drinking lemon water every morning.
Consuming a daily dose of this citrusy beverage can apparently help with digestion, promote hydration, aid in weight loss, and even prevent kidney stones. How exactly does this zesty treat make all that health magic? Read on to find out.
What are the health benefits of drinking lemon water?
First off, it promotes hydration (duh! It’s water). Drinking enough water every day is crucial for your health and for avoiding dehydration. But some people believe the taste of water is boring or too plain — so adding some nice lemony flavor may help them drink more, plus it’s far healthier than sugary drinks like juice or soda. Women should drink about 11.5 cups (or 2.7 liters) of water per day, according to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Secondly, lemon water is a good source of vitamin C, which can keep your muscles strong, lower cancer risk, and help with inflammation. Vitamin C is important for the growth and repair of body tissues, plus it’s involved in many important bodily functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth, according to WebMD.
Drinking lemon water may additionally help support weight loss, simply because drinking more water is a common pound-shedding strategy. In a 2018 study, researchers found that participants who drank water before eating a meal ate less food than those who were instructed to eat the test meal without drinking water beforehand. The participants who drank water before eating ended up eating less, but they did not feel significantly less satiated — implying that the water filled them up a bit.
Lemon water may also help prevent kidney stones, a type of pain nobody wants. Citrate, a component of the citric acid that’s found in lemons, strangely makes our urine less acidic and may even help to break up small kidney stones. Admittedly, while lemon juice does contain this beneficial citric acid, it’s not a lot — and large amounts might be needed to significantly increase your urine’s pH. Still, there must be some merit to the juice on its own, because The National Kidney Foundation has recommended mixing four ounces of lemon juice with water to supplement other kidney stone prevention medications.
Finally, lemon water may aid in digestion, an area where many of us struggle. The acid in lemons has been known to boost gastric secretion, a digestive fluid produced in the stomach that enables your body to digest food. Acid output declines with age, and because that acid helps break down food, you want to have as much of it in your stomach as possible.
How do I make lemon water?
Healthline recommends squeezing half a lemon into 8 ounces of warm or cold water. Either warm or cold water is fine for this delicacy, but cold tastes better to me. (Though there are benefits to drinking room temperature water, as well.) Just make sure you wash the lemon before squeezing it.
To squeeze my lemons, I like the Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer ($9.97 on Amazon). It’s affordable, easy to store in a drawer, and it’ll squeeze every last inch of juice outta your lemon — and then some.
As for whether you need to drink the lemon water first thing in the morning to reap the benefits, there seems to be no hard evidence that timing matters — except anecdotally. However, if chugging water does indeed make you a little less hungry, it couldn’t hurt to drink before meals if you’re trying to eat less.
Any downsides to drinking lemon water?
Keep in mind that while citrus fruits have myriad benefits, they also increase gastric acid production, which can cause heartburn or gas in some people.
As we’ve previously mentioned, lemon does contain citric acid, which can erode tooth enamel over time. To diminish this risk, try drinking yours through a straw or brush your teeth and rinse your mouth out with plain water directly afterward.
Happy lemon squeezing!