6 Science-Backed Health Benefits Of Drinking Lemon Water

Written by Julie M. Goolsby, M.A.

Julie M. Goolsby, M.A., received her Master's degree in women's studies from Georgia State University.

Expert review by Megan Fahey, M.S., R.D., C.D.N.

Megan Fahey, MS, RD, CDN is a Registered Dietitian, Functional Medicine Nutritionist and Registered Yoga Teacher. She holds her Masters of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics from Bastyr University, where she was trained to artfully blend eastern and western healing modalities.

Image by Marc Tran / Stocksy

Did you know that by making one simple change in your morning routine you could have healthier skin, boost your immune system, and improve your digestion? Intrigued? Read on to learn more about the benefits of lemon water and find out why you may just want to replace your morning cup of joe with this refreshing and healthy alternative.

What does the science say? 6 benefits of drinking lemon water.

The combination of water and lemon seems so simple, but it truly is a power couple. Here are six science-backed reasons to start your day with lemon water:

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1. It's hydrating.

Hydration is key to a number of bodily processes, from digestion and elimination of toxins to keeping our organs functioning properly. Given that around 60% of the adult body is composed of water, it is absolutely important to highlight water intake in your diet. 

And of course, *water* is the basic component of lemon water. Drinking water not only keeps you hydrated, but it also helps to optimize digestion and elimination, thus easing any uncomfortable symptoms of bloating.

2. It's a great swap for sugary drinks.

Trying to scale back on your soda habit? Switch to lemon water. 

Sugar-sweetened beverages, like soda and sports drinks, have been linked to everything from weight gain to diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Enter: lemon water. 

Lemons are a whole food, so switching to lemon water will spare your body of the sugar and chemical additives found in many sweetened beverages like soda or processed juices.

Additionally, drinking water, whether it's enhanced with lemon or not, helps to increase your metabolism. Water causes thermogenesis to occur—which is the production of heat in the body. This heat is what fuels metabolic processes throughout the body.

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3. It's good for your skin. 

Yet another reason to stay hydrated with lemon water is glowing skin. If you aren't getting enough H20, it can leave you with dull, dry skin. Proper hydration helps to ensure that the cells in your skin work effectively and are at their best. 

Sure, you can stay hydrated with just water, but the lemon brings its own set of benefits. Lemons are high in vitamin C, an essential micronutrient. When you squeeze some citrus into your water, you are adding anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits to help to promote healthier skin. More importantly, vitamin C plays a big role in collagen production and stabilization, meaning smoother, stronger, more resilient skin.

4. It boosts your immune system.

Because of the important antioxidant role of vitamin C in the body, it also supports a strong immune system by helping to prevent infections. As an antioxidant, vitamin C fights free radical damage and bacteria, keeping the immune system running smoothly. Already feeling under the weather? Vitamin C has been shown to shorten the length of the common cold.

Squeezing just half a lemon into your water provides almost one-third of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. An easy way to add extra "C" to your day.

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5. It provides digestive support.

We are quickly learning how important water is to help our cells and organs function properly. And water plays an especially vital role in the digestive process.

Staying hydrated is one of the most basic ways to ensure proper digestion of food and elimination of toxins through the GI tract. 

Water encourages both proper motility of bowel movements and softens stool, to guard against constipation. And flushing out all those toxins from your body reduces water retention, which helps to eliminate bloating.

6. It helps protect against kidney stones. 

Kidney stones are a pain, literally. Luckily, lemon water can help keep them at bay. Lemons contain citric acid and potassium. Both of which are critical for preventing kidney stones.

Potassium citrate binds with calcium and aids in its elimination from the body, which prevents the calcium buildup that can lead to kidney stones.

The other protective factor of lemon water is hydration, which is important to maintain proper urine flow and help decrease stone formation. Lemon water is win-win.

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Is it better to drink lemon water in the morning?

Drinking lemon water in the morning can help you get your day off to a healthy start. But why is it so important to drink lemon water—particularly warm lemon water—in the morning? 

According to ayurvedic medicine, drinking warm water with lemon stokes the digestive "fire," known as agni in ayurveda. This basically means that it helps to stimulate the digestive system. This stimulation gets things moving, helping the body to eliminate waste and flush toxins from the body.

Warm water helps to increase body temperature and relax the abdominal muscles, encouraging better circulation. Plus, it helps to alleviate muscle soreness or cramping.

Can you drink too much lemon water?

Sure, lemon water is delicious, but can you overdo it? If you find yourself sipping on lemon water all day, here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Don't rely on only lemon water to stay hydrated; the citric acid found in lemons can wear away the enamel on your teeth. As with most things, moderation is key. 

Diluting lemon juice with water helps to lower these effects. That being said, don't overdo it by putting large amounts of lemon juice in your water or drinking multiple glasses of lemon water throughout the day. 

To help minimize the potential negative dental effects of lemon, drink a glass of plain water after drinking lemon water to help flush out the citric acid. 

Because the citric acid softens tooth enamel, it's also a good idea to wait at least 30 minutes after drinking lemon water before brushing your teeth. This allows the calcium in your saliva to remineralize your teeth, which hardens the tooth enamel. Another option is to simply brush your teeth before enjoying your morning glass of lemon water.

Another thing to watch out for: Citrus fruits, including lemons, can be a heartburn trigger. So if you have issues with heartburn or GERD, lemon water may not be for you.

One more thing to watch out for: dirty peels. While enjoying lemon water at home can be a healthy ritual, proceed with caution when adding a slice of lemon to your water if you're dining out. Studies have shown that those seemingly innocent slices of lemon or lime can be crawling with bacteria. Whether or not those wedges are sanitary often depends on how restaurant and bar employees handle them. If you notice employees wearing plastic gloves or using tongs to pick up fruit slices, the odds of contamination are much lower.

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How to make lemon water.

It's all in the name, with just a couple of ingredients, you can make a glass of lemon water. 

Add the juice of at least half a lemon to a glass. Pour 8 to 10 ounces of warm water into the glass, and voilà—you have lemon water! It really is that easy. Looking to jazz up your lemon water even more? Here are some ideas for easy flavor boosters:

Ginger

Not only will ginger add some extra flavor, but it will also add some extra benefits. Ginger has been used as a health remedy for thousands of years. Evidence shows that ginger contains compounds that help provide anti-inflammatory and digestive support.

Just a note: If you add grated ginger, you may want to strain the beverage first to remove the ginger bits.

Cayenne pepper

You can also add some cayenne pepper to your lemon water for a little kick. Cayenne contains a compound called capsaicin, which has been found to have several health benefits, including cardiovascular, digestive, and anti-inflammatory support, among others.

Turmeric

Try sprinkling some turmeric into your lemon water for a golden touch. Turmeric provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits you won't want to miss out on. 

Heck, you can add any or all of these for an extra-powerful health boost! You can even try experimenting with other add-ins. Try fresh mint, cucumber slices or berries. Anything that keeps you sipping!

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE web class with nutrition expert Kelly LeVeque.

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