By Garrick Dee
Guest writer for Wake Up World
A glass of lemon water to start your day can help keep the doctor away. Why do I say that? According to Hippocrates “All disease begin in the gut”, and modern research has also concluded that an unhealthy gut environment impacts the immune system and leads to a myriad of diseases.
Drinking vitamin C rich lemon water (especially first thing in the morning) helps your gut by stimulating the production of hydrochloric acid, a critical ingredient needed by our stomach to digest and expel waste. Lemon is known to neutralize free-radicals in our body, and helps greatly in balancing our body’s pH levels (more on that below). And there are more benefits that I want to share with you too.
As recently as a few years ago, I would start my day by drinking a cup of coffee to “wake myself up”. It was a habit that lasted around 7 years until I replaced coffee with juice this year. I have to admit, I still drink coffee but only on occasion when I’m with friends, but it is nowhere near the amount I was drinking before.
Why Drink Lemon Water?
Overall, this little yellow fruit packs a lot of nutritional punch. It is rich in antioxidants that will neutralize free radicals from oxidizing cells and it stimulates our digestive system to flush out toxins from the body.
The biggest benefit in my book is the very low sugar levels. According to ThePaleoDiet, per 100 grams it only has 0.2 grams of fructose and 0.2 of glucose which makes this fruit suitable for almost anyone looking for a quick nutritional boost every morning.
Here’s the nutrition you’ll get from 100 grams of lemon juice:
Source: Nutrition Data
Health Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water
Lemon is rich in electrolytes and an be used alone or in combination with apple and celery to as a post-workout recovery drink. This recipe includes lemon, lime, water, sea salt, and honey/natural sugar and provides a safer, more affordable alternative to commercial “energy drinks”.
One thing people don’t realize when they workout is that their body becomes very acidic after an intense workout. Lemon is a great neutralizer of that high acidity inside your body. 
Tip: You can also replenish loss fluids during workouts by drinking lemon water instead of just plain water to improve muscle endurance (particularly for running).
Alkalizes the Body, Helps Maintain pH
Nutritionists like Gareth Edwards say that has a great alkalizing effect on the body because “minerals in it disassociate to make it alkaline” as it gets absorbed by the body.
Here’s a video explaining this in detail…
Even though lemon is acidic itself, when it enters the bloodstream “the alkalizing salts override the presence of acids” during the metabolic processes that happens when it enters the bloodstream. 
When our body becomes more acidic, it is more prone to disease. A great way of balancing pH levels is drinking water infused with fresh lemon juice to alkalize the body and lowering acidity levels. 
Tip: Avoid adding honey, maple syrup or any type of sweetener because doing so will just have the opposite effect which is to raise the body’s acidity levels.
Lemon has been listed in countless home remedies lists as one of the best natural treatments for asthma that’s because it is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that fights free radicals which causes smooth muscle contraction and airway constriction, both symptoms of asthma. It also helps clear out mucus from air vessels. 
Tip: Don’t just rely on lemon for treatment, if your doctor prescribes an inhaler by all means use it just in case you have asthma attacks. Lemon is only meant to provide you with the dietary supplement you need to fight this condition.
Balances Blood Sugar Levels
Lemon is rich in bioflavonoids which give this fruit its yellow color. This same compound also naturally stimulates the production of insulin in our body which in turn balances our blood sugar levels. 
Tip: If you juice try using lemon as the only sweetener in your recipes, it has very little sugar and calories. It takes takes a little bit to get used to but the results will be well worth it. If it’s too bitter or sour, add one apple to the mix.
This little yellow fruit is rich in potassium which is considered brain food. 
Lemon is a natural energy booster, even more so if you add honey to it. I’ve said earlier in this article that I was a chain coffee drinker, and I’ve replaced it lemon water with no regrets whatsoever. 
The citric acid present in lemon helps flush toxins from the colon, gallbladder and liver that otherwise would be absorbed by the body. The best effect can be had by drinking this first thing in the morning before any meals. 
Citric acid present in lemon will help dissolve phlegm. In addition to that it is rich in antioxidants like Vitamin C and K that help fight off cough and colds.
The traditional concoction involves combining lemon with warm water and honey. Warm water in a way sooths irritation (at the same time is a decongestant) caused by cough. William Sears says that honey is a very effective at dissolving phlegm, more effective than cough syrups. 
Tip: Remember that if your cough does not improve a few days after drinking this mixture, consult a physician and take proper medication. This only serves as a natural first aid alternative.
Fights Cancer Cells
Remember about the compound Bioflavonoids I was talking about earlier, it turns out that this also works as an antioxidant that fights cell oxidation and free radical damage which are the main culprits of cancer. Theresa Chung who wrote “The Lemon Juice Diet” went as far as saying that it can help prevent cancer. It also contains pectin that according to Vijaya Kumar have been known to protect the intestines from cancer.
Potassium found in lemon is vital for the function of our heart, it does not treat any ailment but it helps in preventing heart related illnesses like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and irregular heartbeat.
Helps Hydrate the Lymphatic System
According to Dr. John Douillard, the lymph system largest circulatory system in our body, twice as large as the arterial system, it is responsible for flushing out waste and toxins out of our system. Keeping it hydrated is important to our overall health.
Actually, water alone is enough to hydrate the lymph system but I added lemon here because it helps in alkalizing thus balancing acidity levels.
Helps Relieve Constipation
This combo is great as a home remedy for constipation. Water helps lubricate the digestive system and soften stool. Citric acid found in lemon induces bowel movement that will flush out undigested waste from the colon. 
Helps Treat Scurvy
Scurvy for those who don’t know is a disease that is a direct result of vitamin C deficiency. Sailors are most prone to this disease because of their extended mission trips on sea that often outlast their produce supply. Lemon water is the treatment of choice for this ailment because it is rich in vitamin C. Water is great as masking the sharp flavor thus allowing them to drink this concoction in large amounts.
Supports Digestive Health
A cup of warm water before any meal in the morning will help break down waste and flush out to toxins from the gut. That’s because at a molecular level, lemon is similar to your saliva that encourages the liver to produce bile – a fluid needed by our intestines to dispose waste and toxins. 
Tip: Warm lemon water should be the first thing that goes in your stomach in the morning, before having breakfast or any other liquid.
Helps Prevent Eyesight Degeneration
Being rich in vitamin C also has a positive effect on your eyesight as this will help prevent eye conditions like macular degeneration and cataract. 
It also contains a tiny bit of vitamin A (1% per 244 grams), another key nutrient for good vision.
Supports the Immune System
Lemons are rich in nutrients like bioflavonoids, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, citric acid, folate and pectin that boost our body’s immune system and immobilize free radicals (the cause of many ailments).
Increases Metabolism and Promotes Weight Loss
It is a little known fact that drinking 8 glasses of water (8 ounces per glass) each day actually boosts your metabolism or how much your body burns calories by 30%. This is based on a study done by Michael Boschmann of the Franz Volhard Research Center. Lemon adds some flavor to water which will help you drink more plus it has pectin which suppresses appetite. 
Tip: Most of the pectin and dietary fiber is found in the white pithy part under the skin, make sure to eat this as well.
Helps Keep the Body Hydrated
If drinking pure water is a chore for you, consider adding a few slices of lemon in there to add a bit of flavor and sharpness to it. It’ll help hydrate your body and replenish lost vitamin and minerals you lose when you get stressed. 
Kills Free Radicals
Per 100grams of lemon juice, you’ll get 77% of your daily vitamin C requirements which is known to neutralize free radicals in our body.
Parasites like worms thrive in an acidic environment. Drinking lemon mixed in water helps in flushing them out.
Lowers High Blood Pressure
Citrus fruits like lemon are rich in vitamin C that helps in thinning the blood, in addition to its antioxidant properties. Another mineral found in this fruit that helps lower blood pressure is potassium that flushes out excess sodium. 
Tip: if you suffer high blood pressure it is important that you keep yourself hydrated throughout the day. A lack of water in the body tells your system to go into preservation mode, which means it will hang on to every last drop of water your body has, the effect of which is the thickening of the blood – another cause of high blood pressure.
Lowers Stress Levels
One thing that gets depleted when you’re stressed is vitamin C so the next time your stress levels go up, take a break and replenish that lost vitamin C with a cup of warm lemon water. 
Helps Prevent Bad Breath
It helps two ways here. First by killing the bad-breath-causing bacteria in your mouth and second, by flushing away toxins in your liver that when overworked releases bad smelling substances to the bloodstream, lungs then out the mouth. 
Its antioxidant properties help you get more radiant skin from the inside out by repairing damaged cells, flushing out toxins and killing free radicals that can ruin our skin. 
Reduces Uric Acid and Inflammation
Lemon is rich in potassium and citrate that prevent the crystallization and buildup of uric acid inside the body which also causes swelling. Since it is a diuretic it will help flush out excess fluid from the body and that includes the uric acid thus reducing inflammation.  Inflammation is associated with a range of common diseases.
Tip: To get the maximum benefit, drink a glass after every meal and avoid adding any sweeteners in there like honey because this is a byproduct of fructose metabolism. 
Treats Kidney Stones (and Prevent It)
Dr. Hoffman said in this article that the citrate present in lemon help inhibit oxalate crystals from forming, one of the most common kidney stones. He recommends mixing 4 ounces of lemon juice to two liters of water to increase urinary citrate levels. Oh, avoid adding any sugar or honey for the maximum benefit.
Helps Prevent Urinary Tract Infection
My wife has had her battles with UTI and a recent bout with it left her weak and unable to work for almost a week. Her friend’s sister had it much worst; the UTI she had led to septic shock which almost took her life – but fortunately she was able to overcome it.
Studies have shown that lemon has antiseptic properties that prevent sepsis – a condition when left untreated may lead to septic shock. If you have UTI, drink lots of water to flush out toxins and facilitate the healing process. Lemon juice is a natural antibiotic that kill the bacteria inside the bladder and urethra so adding this to water will help in naturally relieving the pain. 
Your Liver Will Love It
Vitamin C, which is abundant in lemon, is needed by our body to produce glutathione which is needed to detoxify the liver. Also its antiseptic properties stimulate the liver in flushing out uric acid and other impurities.  Consult your health professional first if you have a serious liver complaint.
Some Handy Tips
- The best time to drink lemon water would be in the morning 15 to 30 minutes before having any type of meal because your body will be able to absorb more nutrients on an empty stomach.
- Avoid any type of bottled/concentrated lemon juice as these are already pasteurized and contain artificial sweeteners that we don’t want. Remember adding sugar to a citrus fruit raises the body’s pH level. Using fresh lemon is always the best.
- I’ve read some articles that go as far as saying to drink this even before brushing your teeth, I say that’s going overboard but it’s worth a shot.
- Lifehack recommends that you use half a lemon if you weigh 150 pounds or less and a whole lemon if you weigh over 150 pounds.
- You can use a straw to drink this since the acids found in lemon can eat away at the teeth’s protective enamel coating.
- You could follow up with a glass of water to wash away those acids.
Looking to add more lemon to your diet?
- You could squeeze lemon on meat, seafood or salad dishes to add a contrasting flavor to these dishes
- Add lemon zest on drinks or desserts
- It could be used as a base for cakes, cookies and other desserts
Sweeten it up, naturally
The most straightforward recipe would be squeezing half-a-lemon on a glass of warm water but if you think this is too sour for your taste, sweeten it up a bit by adding a teaspoon or two of pure honey. You can do this not only for added flavor but also to help you…
- Pick up your energy level (by adding calories): If you’re drained by 2 in the afternoon, trying drinking lemon water with honey. It helps in boosting energy levels because both of these ingredients are natural energy boosters. This certainly beats drinking artificial energy drinks like Red Bull.
- Treat sore throat: This combination works well together in treating a sore throat. Lemon helps dissolve mucus and lemon acts as a lubricant that coats the backside of your throat providing some relief, plus the natural vitamin c aids the immune system.
- Treat coughs: This is my personal home remedy for when I have cough. I’ll mix in honey plus half a lemon in a mug of hot water and will feel relieved afterwards. According to the Mayo Clinic, honey contains dextromethorphan, an ingredient found in over-the-counter cough medications, which works well as a home remedy to suppress coughs and sore throat.
- But please note: Adding honey (or any type of sugar for that matter) to lemon water could turn it into an acidic concoction that could lower your body’s pH levels. According to Ross Bridgeford (the alkaline diet advocate) if your body’s pH levels go down, the red blood cells turn into mold, bacteria and yeast which in turn excrete acid waste. In short, sugar, whether it be honey or processed sugar combined with citrus makes the body highly acidic – a breeding ground for a lot of ailments.
Hot or cold?
As much as I’d like to drink it hot in the morning to wake up my senses, a lot of nutritionists and health experts say that you should only use lukewarm water because boiling water may kill the enzymes and cold water may disrupt the digestive benefits, causing your body to use more energy to absorb and heat the water, as compared to absorbing lukewarm or body-temperature water.
The only time I would recommend you drink it hot would be if you want to relieve constipation, nausea and heartburn.
Don’t throw away the skin
Don’t throw away the skin as it is a rich source of nutrients like potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin A and C, calcium, beta carotene and iron. It is known to be a great anti-cancer agent because it flushes away carcinogenic stuff from our body.
You could eat the skin but I’d prefer to grate it on your desserts, food or drinks. It will all boil down on your preference. Remember if you’re planning on eating the skin make sure that you are using organic, that way you don’t have to worry about pesticides going into your system.
But.. Avoid eating the rind if you have kidney or gallbladder stones avoid eating the skin as it contains high amounts of oxalates that can crystalize and become stones.
How to prepare?
You can do what I do and squeeze it on a cup of warm water but that’s messy and you’ll need to exert some effort. To get more juice out of lemon, you could use an old fashioned reamer or a juicer.
Another way to prepare lemon water is chopping them off in slices and soaking them in a pitcher of water. This will help add to the flavor of water and help you drink more. Just make sure to wash it thoroughly and scrub the rind.
If possible, avoid using the microwave
I’d avoid using the microwave to heat this because of the radiation that could possibly kill the nutrients in this drink, if possible use a thermos and fill up 3/4’s of the cup with water (at room temp) and the other 1/4 with hot water, that should do the trick. If you need to use the microwave cover the cup with a small ceramic (not plastic) plate so it shields the drink from radiation
Can pregnant women drink this?
Dietitian Julie Redfern says that drinking lemon water can provide some relief from dizziness, headaches, endema, and cramps. The American Pregnancy Association says that even lemon scent helps provide relief to morning sickness. Only avoid this when you have allergies to citrus or if you have ulcer. Make sure to consult with your gynecologist before making any diet changes during pregnancy.
Finally, avoid lemon if…
Avoid lemon juice if you have an ulcer, or if you’re by chance allergic to lemons.
It would be best to consult your health care professional before regularly consuming lemon water if you think you may have an ulcer, allergy, or any other serious medical condition.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is, drinking lemon water promotes healing and improves our health.
This fruit from the rind all the way to its juices is a rich source of nutrients, antioxidants and enzymes that help flush out toxins, prevent diseases and promote healing in our bodies. Adding this drink to your diet will do a great deal in balancing your body’s pH levels that prevents it from being too acidic. It’s in an acidic environment where bacteria, parasites and cancer cells tend to thrive.
Remember to drink at least 8 glasses of water every day to keep your body hydrated.
About the author:
Garrick Dee is the man behind Juicing With G, a site he created to share the juice recipes he’s tried and experimented with, and help other new juicers to get juicing!
Less than inspired by his health-conscious mom’s apple/celery juice concoctions, Garrick used to eat a diet of junk food… until a health issue forced him to limit his junk food intake. At this time, he still hated juicing and relied on pharmaceutical medications rather than healthy choices. But this decision ultimately affected the health of Garrick’s liver.
Now Garrick has a different perspective. Married with a son, he watches what he eat for his family’s sake. Still not fond of celery juice (“yuck!”) Garrick started Juicing With G to document and share his recipes and his research as a reluctant juicer on a mission to find the perfect health blends for the taste-conscious.
Please note: this article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treament.