It turns out that not only is adding lemon to drinking water a restaurant ritual, it actually has health benefits!
First, remove the lemon part and you’ve got the water part. Water is vital to nearly all of the major systems in your body.
A Medical News Today article spells it out nicely:
“All the cells and organs of the body need water. It is also used to lubricate the joints, protect the spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, regulate body temperature, and assist the passage of food through the intestines.”
And did you know that about 70 percent of the human body is comprised of water?
The Benefits of Water on the Human Body (Mayo Clinic)
We used to say, “Drink plenty of water.” Sometime in the 1990s, if memory serves, that common phrase changed to “Stay hydrated.”
Either way, a healthy body needs plenty of liquid nourishment.
How much water is that, exactly? The answer comes from the Food and Nutrition Board dietary reference, which says we need to “intake” 91 to 125 ounces of water from food and drinks every day.
A standard can of soda pop is 12 ounces so you’d need to drink 7.5 to 10.4 of them a day. University of Wisconsin Health recommends drinking at least eight glasses of water daily to stay hydrated.
But remember, you get water from soups and juicy fruits, too.
Now, back to the lemon part of lemon water. All citrus fruits deliver a lot of vitamin C, the main antioxidant protecting cells from the damage of free radicals.
Vitamin C is also used to treat colds, and it may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and lower blood pressure.
But wait – there’s more. Vitamin C may actually reduce wrinkling in skin, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
If lemon water is your only source of vitamin C, you might want to make out-and-out lemonade. The US Department of Agriculture says that 1/4 cup raw lemon juice contains about 23.6 grams of vitamin C, about one-third of the recommended daily allowance (RDA). That’s a lot of wedges in your water glass!
Drinking lemon water can help with weight loss. Not only does water take up space in the stomach, creating a feeling of “fullness” to reduce food cravings, the lemon’s antioxidant properties improve insulin resistance and reduce weight gain caused by a high-fat diet.
Agatha Christie’s famous fictional detective Hercule Poirot isn’t the only one who enjoys a lemon tisane “to help the little grey cells.”
Yoga Journal explains why some people start their day with a cup of warm or hot lemon water:
“The Ayurvedic philosophy believes the first item you ingest sets the mood for the remainder of the day. With that thought in mind, drink a glass of lukewarm water flavored with a fresh slice of lemon or lime. Here, the Ayurvedic reasoning is twofold. The warm water serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract and peristalsis—the waves of muscle contractions within the intestinal walls that keep things moving. Secondly, lemons and limes are high in minerals and vitamins and help loosen ama, or toxins, in the digestive tract.”
Lemon is a breath freshener – and it can keep those dreadfully painful kidney stones away.
For all the good it does, be aware that too much citric acid can damage tooth enamel. The solution is to rinse with plain water afterward.
No matter how you slice it, lemon water is as good for you as it tastes – maybe better.