Lemon water is a mixture of drinking water and freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus or minus lemon slices and peels. Lemons contain nutrients such as carbohydrates, and to a lesser extent, protein and fat. They are particularly rich sources of flavonoids (plant compounds found in deeply colored fruits and vegetables) and vitamin C. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central database 100 g of raw lemon juice provides 38.7 mg of vitamin C, which is approximately 43% of the recommended daily dose of Vitamin C.
Lemon water has several health benefits thanks to its high vitamin C concentration, flavonoid content, and acidity. Both flavonoids and vitamin C are strong antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory effects, therefore they may protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation in the body. In a review article published in 2019 in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, flavonoids in a lemon were reported to be protective against diabetes, dyslipidemia, and atherosclerosis.
Lemon juice contains electrolytes like sodium (Na), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) which makes lemon water one of the best drinks for fitness purposes. Lemon water works for rehydration, may improve skin quality, and prevent kidney stones. The diagram below displays the main benefits of lemon water.
Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to a liter of drinking water and drinking lemon water throughout the day, rather than only a glass of lemon juice every morning, would be a good daily routine that may help to increase the amount of water consumed daily while making it easier to drink by adding an aromatic flavor to the water.
There are numerous other claimed benefits from drinking lemon water. Some are very real, some less so.
1. Lemon Water And Weight Loss
Lemon water has a minimal impact on weight loss. Weight loss is defined as a reduction in total body weight induced by either voluntary or involuntary circumstances. Consumption of dietary soluble fibers has been associated with weight loss. While it will not make a large difference, the 0.3g of total dietary fiber in 100g of lemon juice can give a small contribution to the recommended daily fiber intake of 40 g. Perhaps more importantly, if lemon juice helps one to drink more water, increased water consumption has been shown to reduce calorie intake throughout the day.
2. Lemon Water And Detox Effect For Health
Lemon water’s detox impact is unsubstantiated. Detox diets are popular eating regimens that claim to help with toxin clearance. They are based on the notion that the organs may become auto intoxicated and that cleaning them is important.
The majority of claims that foods or beverages may cleanse or detoxify the organs are not supported by scientific evidence. In a critical review of the evidence, Klein and Kiat from Sydney, Australia indicate in their article published in the official journal of the British Dietetic Association that there are no well-designed studies to assess the effectiveness of detox programs. While science has not ruled the existence of detox benefits for health from lemon water, evidence will need to come in the form of proper studies.
3. Lemon Water And Kidney Stones
Lemon water is beneficial for kidney stones. Kidney stones (called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis) are defined as hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys.
Citrate, potassium, and magnesium are known to be anti-lithogenic (preventing stone formation) solutes. According to an article published by CLU Working Group, citrus such as lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and lime, as well as non-citrus fruits such as melon, are natural sources of dietary citrate. Several studies have shown the potential of these fruits and/or their juices to raise urine citrate levels. The chart below comparatively displays the levels of citrate found in fresh lemon, lime, and orange fruits, as recorded by Kristina L. Penniston et al. in the Journal of Endourology.
Consuming 85 ml of lemon juice per day can increase urinary citrate levels while decreasing urinary calcium levels, implying that lemon juice is an option in the treatment of urinary calcium stones. This is according to a prospective randomized study conducted by urologists from Bakirkoy Research and Training Hospital in Istanbul, Turkey.
Based on the assumption that a medium-sized lemon yields roughly 4 tablespoons of lemon juice, results similar to this study can be achieved by using lemon water produced with 1.5 medium-sized lemons.
Another key element that contributes to kidney stone formation is a lack of water, which leads to dehydration. Consuming lemon water may help to prevent the formation of kidney stones by rehydrating the body.
4. Lemon Water And Diabetes
Lemon water is beneficial for diabetes management. Diabetes is when the body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use the insulin it makes as well as it should. Too much blood sugar stays in the bloodstream when there is not enough insulin or cells stop responding to insulin. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes diabetes as a chronic (long-lasting) health condition that affects how the body turns food into energy. The figure below displays the characteristics of diabetes.
Preventing type 2 diabetes is possible by lifestyle changes such as eating healthy and adding more physical activity into daily life. The American Diabetes Association considers lemon as a “superstar” food because of its vitamin C, folate, and potassium content which is good for diabetes. Lemon has a low glycemic index, and its anti-inflammatory effects may help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Researchers from New Zealand investigated plasma vitamin C concentrations in adults across the glycemic spectrum (from normal glucose tolerance to type 2 diabetes) and found that the plasma vitamin C concentrations were significantly lower in individuals with type 2 diabetes compared to those with normal glucose tolerance. Study results showed dietary vitamin C intake as an independent predictor of plasma vitamin C concentrations. Lemon water, thanks to the high vitamin C concentration, is the ideal choice for vitamin C supplementation through dietary intake.
In the scientific literature, however, there is no clear answer on how much lemon water should be consumed to achieve the risk reduction of developing type 2 diabetes.
5. Lemon Water And Breath Freshness
Lemon water is beneficial for fresh breath. Halitosis, known as bad breath, is an oral health problem where the main symptom is bad-smelling breath. There are several possible causes of bad breath and most of them are related to poor oral hygiene.
Researchers from the Department of Oral Biology, Faculty of Dentistry, University of North Sumatra, Indonesia have shown that lemon juice can decrease the salivary pH and number of bacteria while increasing the salivary flow rate. This is good for fresh breath since odor-causing bacteria on the tongue and dry mouth are two common reasons for bad breath.
There is no research in the scientific literature that suggests a certain amount of lemon water be consumed in order to avoid bad breath.
6. Lemon Water And Hydration
Lemon water is beneficial for hydration. Dehydration is a condition in which the body loses excessive amounts of fluid. It occurs when the body loses more fluid than it takes in and it cannot function properly.
Water delivers fluids that the body needs to function properly, and most individuals require around two liters of water every day. Some people might find it difficult to drink plain water, especially if they do not like the flavor of local tap water. So adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to a liter of drinking water and drinking lemon water throughout the day can make it easier to drink.
7. Lemon Water And The Immune System
Lemon water is beneficial for the immune system. The US National Library of Health’s MedlinePlus defines the immune system as a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs that work together to help the body fight infections and diseases. In the video below by TED-ed, Emma Bryce explains how the immune system functions.
One component of the body’s immune response is inflammation. When excessive inflammation occurs it can cause damage. Scientific evidence for the effects of citrus fruit juices and their major bioactives on inflammation and immunity has been recently reviewed and published in an article titled “Effects of Citrus Fruit Juices and Their Bioactive Components on Inflammation and Immunity”. Micronutrients and other bioactives present in citrus fruit juices have established roles in controlling oxidative stress and inflammation and in supporting innate and acquired immune responses.
Lemon juice and therefore lemon water contains nutrients and bioactives such as vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and fiber. Adrian F. Gombart from the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University emphasizes that the integrated immune system needs multiple specific micronutrients, including vitamins A, D, C, E, B6, and B12, folate, zinc, iron, copper, and selenium. All of which play vital, often synergistic roles at every stage of the immune response.
In summary, it can be said that drinking lemon water containing the juice of at least one lemon every day can assist to maintain the immune system owing to the nutrients it provides.
8. Lemon Water And Exercise Efficiency
Lemon water might help with general hydration to improve exercise efficiency. The ratio of mechanical work rate to energy expenditure is a wide definition of exercise efficiency. Meaning using less energy to do the same amount of work. Elderly people often have low levels of exercise efficiency, whereas active young people have better efficiency than sedentary young people.
Although there is no scientific evidence linking lemon water specifically to exercise efficiency, substantial research has been conducted on the effects of dehydration/hypohydration on physical performance and related responses. Numerous studies have shown that dehydration resulting in a loss of body mass lower than 2% is associated with a decline in physical performance. Therefore, there is a link between exercise efficiency and water balance, which can be sustained by drinking lemon water. Adding lemon flavor encourages some people to drink more water who might not otherwise do, especially in regions where the tap water may not taste good.
9. Lemon Water And The Digestive System
Lemon water is beneficial for the digestive system. The digestive system consists of the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract), as well as the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The GI tract is a network of hollow organs connected by a long, twisting tube that runs from the mouth to the anus. The digestive system is critical for the body to get the energy it requires, and digestion begins in the mouth.
Researchers Catherina Bozorgi, Celina Holleufer, and Karin Wendin published the results of their study about the impact of different types of food and drinks on saliva secretion and swallowing, illustrated below. They found that 40 ml of pure citrus juice increased perceived saliva secretion and eased the swallowing of food.
Another article published in the International Journal of Ayurvedic and Herbal Medicine titled “Health and Medicinal Properties of Lemon” states that flavonoids stimulate the peristaltic motion, stimulate the digestive system, and increase secretion of digestive juices, bile, and acids.
There is no definitive scientific data establishing the amount of lemon water that should be consumed, even small amounts will assist in stimulating the digestive system.
10. Lemon Water And Mental Health
Lemon water might have a positive impact on mental health. There is no scientific study demonstrating any effect of lemon water on mental health, a review article published in the International Journal of Chemical and Biochemical Sciences indicates that the inhalation of essential lemon oil boosted the concentrations of the sensational chemical norepinephrine transmitter, demonstrating a real mental and physical effect within the brain.
Around 2 liters of water consumption per day is recommended for adults to stay minimally hydrated. Drinking more than 2 liters of water with a nutrient-rich drink like lemon water enhances general well-being and, as a result, may help to improve mental health.
What Health Problems Does Lemon Water Help With?
Lemon water might help with health problems including the following conditions.
- Lyme disease: An infectious disease.
- Kidney stones: Mineral deposit stones formed in kidneys.
- Gum disease: Inflammation of the gums.
- Heart disease: Disorders of the cardiovascular system.
- Autoimmune disease: Group of diseases caused by autoantibodies.
- Renal disease: Kidney failure.
- Fatty liver disease: Accumulation of fat in the liver.
1. Lyme Disease
Lemon water’s ability to help treat Lyme disease is unsubstantiated. Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected black-legged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, the infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system. In the video below, Dr. Dominic Rowley, MD, explains Lyme disease, the causes, and possible treatments. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Lyme disease is the most common vector-borne disease in the United States.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ recommendation is a short course of oral antibiotics such as doxycycline or amoxicillin as the treatment. This is curative in the majority of cases. In more complicated cases, Lyme disease can usually be successfully treated with three to four weeks of antibiotic therapy.
There is no scientific evidence supporting the idea that lemon water helps with Lyme disease. Some have hypothesized that lemon water’s general benefits to the immune system could be beneficial for Lyme disease treatment, but there is not yet any scientific evidence to support this.
2. Kidney Stones
Lemon water is shown to help against kidney stones. Kidney stones (called renal calculi, nephrolithiasis, or urolithiasis) are defined as hard deposits made of minerals and salts that form inside the kidneys.
Citrate, potassium, and magnesium are known to be anti-lithogenic solutes (preventing stone formation). Citrus (lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and lime) and non-citrus fruits (melon) are natural sources of dietary citrate according to a review published by CLU Working Group. Several studies have shown the potential of these fruits and/or their juices to raise urine citrate levels. In this video, Dr. David Soria who is the Chief of Emergency Medicine at Florida’s Wellington Regional Medical Center explains how lemon water can reduce the frequency of kidney stones.
Another key element that contributes to kidney stone formation is a lack of water, which leads to dehydration. Consuming lemon water may help to prevent the formation of kidney stones by rehydrating the body.
3. Gum Disease
Lemon water might help against gum disease. Gum disease is a relatively frequent disorder due to inflammation in which the gums swell, become sensitive, or get infected. Brushing teeth may cause the gums to bleed. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease that can progress to periodontitis if it is not treated.
There is currently a lack of data on the effect of citrus flavonoid dietary supplementation on periodontal disease. However, a recent study published in Food & Function journal suggests that a diet supplemented with citrus flavonoids may aid in the prevention of periodontitis based on the results of their study on mice.
4. Heart Disease
Lemon water does help against heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, causing about 1 in 4 deaths. The term “heart disease” refers to several types of heart conditions.
A systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the role of different fruit and vegetable sources in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. It focused on outcomes such as CVD, coronary heart disease (CHD), and stroke incidence and mortality found the following.
- Higher intakes of fruits and/or vegetables including citrus (lemon, oranges, grapefruit, limes, etc.) and fruit juice are associated with improvements in all CVD outcomes.
- Citrus usage showed significant risk reductions in most CVD outcomes from 9% to 12%.
- Citrus has a low glycemic index and energy density, as well as being a good source of antioxidants, micronutrients, and vasoactive minerals including potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
Lemon water, being one of the simplest and most natural ways to consume citrus juice, is an excellent approach to get all of these advantages
5. Autoimmune Disease
Lemon water is shown to have some benefits against autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease happens when the body's natural defense mechanism is unable to distinguish between its own cells and foreign cells, causing the body to target normal cells mistakenly. There are around 80 different forms of autoimmune diseases that affect various body parts. The symptoms of autoimmune diseases are basically caused by inflammation.
Citrus flavonoids, when consumed, have varying effects on inflammation, acting at various stages on multiple inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis or Crohn’s, and having the ability to reduce the start and progression of inflammatory diseases.
6. Renal Disease
Lemon water might help against Renal disease. Kidneys produce urine by filtering excess water and wastes from the blood. Kidney disease (Renal disease) indicates that the kidneys have been damaged and are unable to filter blood as effectively as they should.
Although there is no scientific evidence supporting the idea that lemon water directly helps with kidney disease, it has been shown that freshly squeezed lemon juice lowers the blood uric acid in hyperuricemia. This is a chronic metabolic disorder leading to gouty arthritis, kidney stones, hypertension, renal failure, and even cardiovascular diseases.
7. Fatty Liver Disease
Lemon water might help against fatty liver disease. There are two main types which are nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease, called alcoholic steatohepatitis. According to the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus, fatty liver disease is a condition that causes fat to accumulate in the liver.
It has been shown in studies with mice that lemon juice consumption may reduce alcohol-induced lipid accumulation in the liver in a dose-dependent manner.
What Are The Side Effects Of Lemon Water?
While it is a safe drink in general, the side effects of lemon water might include the following factors.
- The citric acid in lemon juice/lemon water might cause enamel erosion.
- Too much vitamin C consumption might cause nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting.
- Too much water consumption might cause frequent urination.
- For some people, citrus fruits might trigger migraines.
Can Lemon Water Cause Dehydration?
No, lemon water can not cause dehydration and is a good way to hydrate the body. One dehydration definition is body water loss without a proportional loss of sodium and potassium, and lemons are a reasonably good source of potassium with approximately 80 mg of potassium per lemon.
What Is The Nutritional Value Of Lemon Water?
According to the US Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central database, the nutritional value of lemon water containing 48 g of raw lemon juice can be delineated as follows.
- Energy: 10.6 kcal, 43.7 kJ
- Protein: 0.168 g
- Total fat: 0.115 g
- Carbohydrate: 3.31 g
- Total dietary fiber: 0.144 g
- Total sugars: 1.21 g
- Sucrose: 0.206 g
- Glucose: 0.475 g
- Fructose: 0.528 g
- Calcium: 2.88 mg
- Iron: 0.038 mg
- Magnesium: 2.88 mg
- Phosphorus: 3.84 mg
- Potassium: 49.4 mg
- Sodium: 0.48 mg
- Zinc: 0.024 mg
- Copper: 0.008 mg
- Manganese: 0.006 mg
- Selenium: 0.048 µg
- Vitamin C: 18.6 mg
- Thiamin: 0.012 mg
- Riboflavin: 0.007 mg
- Niacin: 0.044 mg
- Pantothenic Acid: 0.063 mg
- Vitamin B-6: 0.022 mg
- Folate: 9.6 µg
- Choline: 2.45 mg
- Beta Carotene: 0.48 µg
- Cryptoxanthin: 1.92 µg
- Vitamin A: 2.88 IU
- Lutein + Zeaxanthin: 7.2 µg
- Vitamin E: 0.072 mg
- Total Saturated Fatty Acids: 0.019 g
- Total Monounsaturated Fatty Acids: 0.003 g
- Total Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: 0.01 g
How To Make Lemon Water?
You make lemon water by adding lemon juice to water. Simple. The amount of lemon juice to add is a matter of preference. A liter of water with the juice of half a lemon is not excessively sour for most people, but the juice of more than one lemon will be difficult for most people to drink.
The two most popular methods of drinking lemon water are to prepare a glass of lemon water and drink all at once or to prepare a bottle of lemon water and consume it over the day. For steady hydration, the best method of consuming lemon water is to use between one half and one full lemon per liter of drinking water and drink throughout the day. Lemon slices can be added, and keeping the lemon water in the refrigerator can keep it more refreshing throughout the day.
What Can You Use And Drink Lemon Water With?
You can use and drink lemon water with honey, slices of ginger, or mint leaves for better taste. Honey is known as an antioxidant and will contribute to lemon water’s antioxidant effects. Ginger has phytochemical properties which makes it a good anti-inflammatory agent. Mint helps control inflammation as well as soothing gastrointestinal problems.
Can You Drink Lemon Water With Coffee?
Yes, you can drink lemon water with coffee. Scientifically there is nothing harmful about it. Whether or not you enjoy the taste is a matter of personal preference.
Can You Use Chia Seeds With Lemon Water?
Yes, you can use chia seeds with lemon water. Chia seeds contain a large number of natural antioxidants and other nutrients. The therapeutic value of chia seeds has been investigated in several disease areas. According to WebMD, they have positive benefits for heart health, bone health, and blood sugar management among others.
Can You Use Ginger With Lemon Water?
Yes, you can use ginger with lemon water, especially for better taste. Ginger has numerous positive biological traits such as being anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and neuroprotective. In this video, gastroenterologist Dr. Partha Nandi explains the health benefits of adding ginger to water.
How To Consume Lemon Water?
There is no specific guidance on how to consume lemon water. It is perfectly healthy to drink lemon water every day as long as the sort of excessive consumption that could lead to water intoxication is avoided.
When Is The Optimum Time For Drinking Lemon Water?
There is no specific optimum time for drinking lemon water. It can be consumed at any time of the day, its benefits will stay the same as normal healthy drinking water habits plus the benefits of the lemon.
Is It Beneficial To Drink Lemon Water Warm?
There is no scientific evidence to indicate that it is specifically beneficial to drink warm lemon water or that there is any difference between drinking cold or warm lemon water. Though some have claimed without citing scientific sources that drinking warm lemon water in the morning might help to kick start the digestive system.
What Are Some Similar Fruit Water Recipes To Lemon Water?
Fruit waters prepared with citrus fruit have similar effects as lemon water. For example:
- Lime water
- Orange water
- Grapefruit water
- Key lime water
- Pomelo water
- Tangerine water
In the video below, Dani Spies, a Holistic Weight Loss Coach shows three different recipes for citrus fruit waters.
Is Lemon Water A Luxury?
No, lemon water is not a luxury but a very affordable drink that can be easily prepared and consumed. Mix the lemon with your favorite water, whether abundant available tap, or a natural source bottled water. Though if one wishes to make it a luxury, one can certainly enjoy it with Svalbarði Polar Iceberg Water or any of the premium brands on the most expensive water list Svalbarði maintains.