We ask the experts about the alleged health and weight loss benefits of sipping lemon water.
Health and wellness influencers have long been extolling the virtues of a warm cup of lemon water to detoxify your liver and kick start weight loss, but what are the real health benefits of squeezing citrus into your morning cuppa?
Is lemon water good for your skin?
Lemon juice is often touted as the ultimate health hack. But can sipping on a warm mug of citrus fruits really rejuvenate your skin?
‘Lemon contains vitamin C which is really important for our skin. It helps to promote collagen production and protects from UV damage,’ says Sophie Medlin, registered dietitian and owner at City Dietitians. ‘Adding a flavouring to water may also help us to drink more, which is also good for the appearance of your skin.’
It’s not all good news though. ‘The anti-aging effects of lemon water will quickly wear off when your teeth are black from all the acid though!’ adds Medlin. ‘The amount of vitamin Cyou actually get from lemon water is not significant. You’re much better off upping your fruit intake to see the real benefits.’
Is lemon water good for weight loss?
Wellness gurus maintain lemon juice can have a transformative effect on your midriff. But is this really true?
‘No,’ says Medlin. ‘There is some evidence that a very high intake of grapefruit juice may help weight loss in studies with rodents but there is no evidence at all the lemon water has any impact on weight loss or metabolic rate. There is no physiological mechanism by which this would happen.’
Is lemon water good for digestive health?
Bad news for lemon-lovers, sipping on citrus is not that great for your belly either. ‘Outside of the body, the acid in lemon can help to breakdown bacteria, but when it reaches the stomach, there will be no additional benefits to digestive health and most people with digestive problems find citrus to be an irritant to their condition due to the high acid content,’ says Medlin.
Does lemon water maintain PH balance?
Again, another health myth. ‘No,’ says Medlin. ‘The pH of lemon water is around 2 and the pH in your stomach is around the same, so it has no impact on the pH of the rest of your body, as everything you eat and drink is turned into acid as soon as it hits your stomach.’
‘As a dietitian, I have worked extensively in intensive care where the pH of the patient’s blood can be affected by breathing problems and sepsis,’ adds Medlin.
‘If the pH of someone’s blood is even slightly above or below the normal range, they die very quickly. It is impossible for the pH of your blood to be affected by what you eat and drink. If it could be, many people would accidentally kill themselves all the time.’
Can lemon water fight the common cold?
Finally some good news! If you’re prone to colds at this time of year or feel one coming on, get stuck into a warm glass of lemon juice, because it IS good for battling the sniffles.
‘Vitamin C is a really important vitamin for our immune system and making sure that you’re getting enough vitamin C in your diet can help your immune
Does lemon water flush out the toxins?
If you buy into this fad, you’ll be wasting a lot of money on lemons. ‘There is no such thing as “toxins” really. Nothing we eat is “toxic”,’ explains Medlin.
‘Our environment and behaviours like smoking, drinking alcohol, intense exercise and restrictive dieting can cause free-radicals to build up in our bodies, which lead to tissue damage. Antioxidants like vitamin C can help to counteract these free-radicals.’
‘People believe that lemon water helps to break down fat,’ she adds. ‘This is because of the belief that the acidic nature of the lemon impacts on fat digestion. As mentioned previously, stomach acid and bile are both perfectly designed to break down fat in the most efficient way.’
Is lemon water anti-inflammatory?
Another myth that needs busting. ‘No,’ says Medlin. ‘In fact, constantly exposing your mouth and oesophagus to the acid in lemon water is likely to lead to inflammation.’
Does lemon water help with hydration?
Many health gurus will have you believe that lemon water comes enriched with electrolytes, but Medlin smashes this belief. ‘You will be getting some sugar and some potassiumhowever, this will not have any significant benefits on hydration over just drinking water,’ she says.
Is lemon water a good source of vitamin C?
When it comes to oranges and lemons, the former wins the health battle. ‘Lemons contain some potassium, calcium, phosphate and magnesium,’ says Medlin, ‘but not enough that it will make any difference to nutritional status and all are found in greater concentrations in oranges.’
Can lemons optimise mood or memory?
The brain-boosting benefits of lemon is another health claim that sadly doesn’t stack up. ‘There is no mechanism by which lemon water can impact on mood or memory function,’ says Medlin.
‘High levels of vitamin C may improve these things in studies but drinking lemon water won’t have an impact. The best thing for memory and mood is a healthy, balanced diet that includes nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains and plenty of vegetables.’