Drinking warm lemon water is one of the biggest health food trends right now, with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyoncé and Martha Stewart swearing by it. Naturopaths especially are touting it as a highly effective habit and home remedy for a number of reasons. Ancient traditions from China, Japan and the Ayurvedic philosophy promote the benefits of drinking warm water, now Western science is telling us to add fresh lemon juice to the mix. This drink is credited for weight loss, anti-aging properties, fighting the common cold, eye health, treating kidney stones, digestion, and improvements in blood pressure, among other things. Many health claims are real and some are just hype. Let’s look at the proven effects backed up with sound medical facts.
Vitamin C in lemon juice
The heaviest hitter of the warm lemon juice concoction is the high vitamin C content in the lemon. Women need 74 mg of vitamin C a day, men need 90 mg a day and smokers need to add on an additional 35 mg to that. A 3 fl oz serving of lemon juice contains 34 mg of vitamin C with only 20 calories. Other big numbers that the lemon juice delivers are: 0.64 g of protein, 1.6 g of fiber, 15 mg of calcium, 7 mg of magnesium, 13 mg of phosphorus, 116 mg of potassium, and 1 mg of vitamin A. It also contains 1% of your recommended intake of both folate and potassium.
Vitamin C fights cold and flu
It’s common knowledge that vitamin C helps prevents colds and flu by boosting the immune system. The National Institutes of Health report that it also cuts down on the length of time the symptoms last. Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, can ease the symptoms during the cold. It’s best to be consuming vitamin C regularly before getting sick as it does not seem to be effective to begin consuming it after the cold symptoms start.
Vitamin C and iron absorption
The high concentrations of ascorbic acid in the juice of a lemon, enhances iron absorption. When we consume iron from plant-based foods, it’s the vitamin C that helps us absorb it. Eating foods that are high in iron and pairing them with foods that are high in vitamin C, increases the bodies ability to absorb iron.
Vitamin C and Age Related Macular Degeneration
According to the National Institutes of Health, supplements that include vitamin C might slow the progression of Age Related Macular Degeneration. A large study was done where participants with AMD took supplements that included 500 mg of ascorbic acid daily, along with other vitamins and nutrients, resulting in less chance of developing advanced AMD. Studies are now being done to see if there is a link between vitamin C supplements and cataracts.
Warm lemon water helps with weight loss, but in some surprising ways. To start, drinking it in the morning is a great replacement for other calorific beverages you might consume, such as coffee or tea with cream, or a sugar-packed glass of orange juice. This can cut hundreds of calories from your daily caloric goals.
Drinking water before a meal stretches the stomach and signals fullness, reducing the amount of food needed to feel full. Warm water tends to stay in the stomach longer than cold water, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. This can help prevent you from snacking on unplanned calories. Drinking water before a meal is called preloading. Studies have shown that preloading with water before a meal causes a 13% reduction in calories consumed.
The pectin fiber in the lemon will control food cravings and the glass of warm lemon water will break down adipose tissue, which is body fat. Also, the polyphenols in lemons have been proven to prevent weight gain in animal studies.
Drinking warm water raises the body’s temperature, which increases its metabolic rate. Drinking warm water throughout the day can increase metabolic rate by 30% in adults.
Besides weight loss purposes, it is extremely important to consume water as every cell in the body needs water to absorb nutrients and dispose of waste.
Morning anti-oxidant boost
As an anti-oxidant, the ascorbic acid in the warm lemon juice potion protects DNA from free radical damage. This can help fight effects of aging, lower risks of diseases such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease. It is a great idea to get this boost of liquid health first thing in the morning to get the day started right. Keep going throughout the day if too, it is just going to give the body more and more vitamins and minerals.
The benefits of water
The benefits of warm lemon water does not have to include the science of what is in the mix. Researchers say that the biggest help for your health is the water. Lemon water has the same health benefits of plain water. Water has been repeatedly proven to help with weight loss. It fills the stomach and gives the feeling of fullness and combats constipation. It boosts your mood, helps your memory and is crucial for physical activity. Studies have shown that drinking water regularly can reduce your risk of colon cancer by 45% and bladder cancer by 50%. Migraine sufferers report fewer migraines, as well as decreased pain intensity, when drinking over 1.5 liters of water (six cups) a day.
Limonene is a compound naturally found in all citrus fruits and has antioxidant properties. In laboratories it has shown some ability to kill cancer cells. Limonene has antioxidant properties, counteracting the free radicals that damage DNA. One animal study showed that the growth of liver tumors was reduced with the use of citrus limonene, and the growth of new healthy cells was increased. Drinking warm water with a touch of lemon juice might bring on those same cancer-fighting properties. In a study of female breast cancer patients with advanced cancer, limonene reduced the size of lymph nodes. In rodent studies, creatures given limonene had reduced appetite and there was a breakdown of fat cells, leading to weight loss. Other studies on both humans and animals have shown the limonene can help with heartburn, gallstones, inflammation, wound healing, and eyesight.
Drinking warm water increases perspiration, which helps to flush out toxins. It increases sweating, especially on warm days. The effect is good for all major organs, and the largest human organ is the skin.
Nasal and throat congestion
In a NCBI study, 15 participants had their mucus velocity and nasal air flow resistance tested. Participants drank cold water, warm water and chicken broth. The warm water increased nasal mucus expulsion dramatically. It is interesting to note that there was a significant decrease in nasal mucus velocity with cold water. Warm water dissolves phlegm and ushers it through the respiratory tract. This is a natural home remedy for a cough, cold or sore throat.
Lemon water contains flavonoids
Lemon juice is a source of organic material called flavonoids. Lemon juice has flavonoid compounds that have been proven to slow or stop cancer cells from dividing. They also act as antibiotics. Tests on mice have shown that consuming lemon or lime juice improves antibodies, which can help fight off cholera. Flavonoid rich fruits and vegetables help prevent weight gain. It’s mostly fruits overall that give the greatest effect. Drinking warm lemon water is going to give you a lower glycemic load and it’s nice to enjoy the flavor without having to feel guilty about the calories.
Different governments give different guidelines on the amount of fruit and vegetables to eat a day, but the general consensus is that 5 or more servings is best. Raw, fresh and unpreserved fruits and vegetables are better than cooked or preserved. Using the juice of one lemon in the morning can give you half of a serving of the daily produce you need.
Stroke and blood pressure
According to the American Heart Association citrus fruits may help lower the risk of ischemic stroke in women. Fresh lemon juice has an anti-inflammatory effect and improves circulation. A study was done in Japan where women ate one lemon a day and walked as a form of exercise. All participants experienced improved blood pressure.
Prevents and treats kidney stones
Drinking warm lemon water daily prevents and treats kidney stones. Calcium oxalate is the substance that makes up most of the deposits. Citrate is a compound used to treat them; drinking lemon water produces citrate in your urine. Increasing the citrate in your urine stops the compounds that form the painful deposits. Many human studies have proven this claim. About 19% of men and 9% of women develop the condition in their lifetime, typically starting after the age of 30. High blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity can increase your chances of kidney stones. Drinking a glass of warm lemon water in the morning daily might be a good idea to stop this condition from forming, since it often develops as a result of dehydration.
Cardiovascular disease is another ailment that is lessened by consuming foods packed with ascorbic acid. Oxidative damage is a leading cause of the condition and fresh lemon juice is an excellent source of anti-oxidants.
Digestion is helped by any concoction that includes warm water, it helps to flush the digestive system. It encourages the production of bile and digestive juices and helps food move through the gastrointestinal tract. The lemon juice in the water can draw out the absorption of vitamins and minerals, making sure the body gets more of the good stuff. And this improved nutrient absorption also prevents bloating. Lemon juice boosts saliva production, which signals and stimulates the liver to produce bile, which is a fluid needed to dispose of waste.
Warm lemon water before a meal helps to break down waste and flush toxins out of the system. Staying hydrated helps kidneys expel waste. Warm water eases the process of breaking down food particles and shuffling them through the intestines. Cold liquids solidify fats in your stomach, whereas warm liquids flush them out. Warm drinks widen blood vessels, which aid digestion. It stimulates the bowel, easing constipation.
Scientific data shows that drinking warm lemon water is amazing for the skin. The anti-oxidants in ascorbic acid do wonders fighting free radicals and other forms of photodamage, which are picked up everyday from the environment and cause cell death. Vitamin C is a vital molecule for the production of collagen, a fibrous protein that is crucial for the structure of skin. Higher intakes of vitamin C aid in collagen synthesis, which is associated with a lower likelihood of developing wrinkles, dark spots and other dermatological damage.
Potassium is an electrolyte that conducts electricity throughout the body and helps with skeletal-muscular function. It is an important element for all cell functions and the transmission of nerve signals. It keeps water inside cells, promotes optimal hydration, and creates an efficient heart and healthy blood. Warm lemon water can be a replacement for sports drinks because of the potassium, without all the extra garbage. Potassium helps your muscles to move and your heart to work. One fluid ounce of raw, unprocessed lemon juice contains 37.8 mg of potassium.
Chinese use of warm water
The Chinese are big proponents of drinking warm and hot water. They believe that drinking a glass of warm water in the morning gets the digestive system moving. It aids in blood flow because it is a vasodilator. As blood circulation increases, the body is detoxified. China has a population that experiences very low rates of obesity so they might be on to something!
Damages tooth enamel
The downside to drinking warm lemon water is that the acid from the lemon erodes tooth enamel. Enamel protects teeth and, when it deteriorates, teeth will become sensitive, yellowed, and more prone to cavities. The key to preventing this is to rinse your mouth out or brush your teeth right after finishing the drink. Dentists recommend sipping acidic beverages through a straw as a way to avoid contact with the teeth and to drink it quickly, rather than sipping.
As more scientific studies come out about the health benefits of drinking warm lemon water, it’s becoming clear that the habit is a great, natural way to support our bodies. One major take-away here, stated again and again in available literature, is that it’s an excellent substitute to drinking juices, tea and coffee that are often packed with calories. Some people don’t like the taste of water so the tang of the lemon can simply be more enjoyable as a way to wake up and to enjoy other health benefits throughout the day.