Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+ Join today!.
You’ve probably heard – and read – plenty of buzz about adding lemon to your water. Infusing plain ol’ tap water with slices of bright, citrus-y lemon slices isn’t a new idea. It’s one that’s been around for a long time, and there are a lot of people who tout its health and wellness benefits. But does adding lemon to your drinking water actually make a difference? And, more importantly, is it good for you?
If you’re wondering whether or not you should stock up on lemons, we’ve got you covered. Here’s what lemon water has the potential to offer, and whether or not it’s a good idea to incorporate into your everyday healthy habits.
Lemon water is said to have a host of health benefits
Lemon water, or lemon-infused water, is popular because it’s said to deliver even better health perks than plain water. Whether you’re looking for a little help as you work towards a healthy weight or want to better your gut health, lemon water is something of an all-around helping hand.
According to Cleveland Clinic, drinking lemon water may offer benefits like:
- Better digestion, with lemons supplementing your stomach acids
- Improved hydration, since lemons infuse some flavor into water
- Weight loss, if you’re replacing sugary or calorie-rich beverages with lemon-infused water
- Antioxidants, thanks to lemons’ phytonutrients
- Vitamin C, with the addition of lemon juice
However, it’s a little unclear how you can maximize lemon water’s benefits – and if drinking this flavorful spin on water really makes a difference in the long run. So, we decided to ask an expert to clear up the confusion.
Dr. Amy Lee, Head of Nutrition for Nucific, offers some insight about whether or not you should be sippin’ on lemon.
Drinking lemon water may be trendy, but in your professional opinion, is it actually good for you?
Yes! In my professional and nonprofessional opinion, I am absolutely supportive of drinking lemon water.
The scientific evidence really comes down to the benefit of either/or, meaning there are benefits in adding lemon into your diet as well as being well-hydrated. So, drinking lemon water is not different.
I have not come across any harm in the consumption of either [ingredient]. Can you have too much citrus and have potential side effects of the acidity? Yes, but that isn’t what we are talking about. And can we drink too much water and get into water toxicity? Yes! But that is so rare and again, we aren’t talking about that.
Current recommended water consumption is 2-3 liters daily to replenish the water lost each day from simple things such as respiration or sweat. Our cellular health thrives best when it is well hydrated. Our body is made up of 70% water, so it’s quite essential.
One of the biggest rumored benefits of lemon water is that it kickstarts the digestion process. Is this true?
There is some truth because general hydration helps with gastrointestinal health. Gastrointestinal health relates to elimination and also the overall inflammatory status of the body. Good gut health is also a reflection of a good gut microbiome as well, which we know plays a role in how we feel on a daily basis.
Another big rumor is that lemon water accelerates or aids weight loss. Is that true?
This also holds true to a degree. When one is well-hydrated, it can affect the level of satiety and feeling of fullness. Sometimes, when the body is dehydrated or depleted, the sensation we perceive could be the feeling of hunger when in reality, we’re just thirsty. So, for those who act on grabbing a snack versus taking in water, they’ll end up taking in more calories.
Also, 70% of our body is made up of water, and so are the muscles that metabolize fuel. Being well-hydrated can help optimize the way the body burns calories.
What are some cons of drinking lemon water?
The acidity of the citrus fruit can be irritable on mucosal surfaces; considering the pH of lemon juice is a bit lower than vinegar but may be more alkaline than gastric juice. That’s why you feel a burning sensation if you get some onto your open wounds.
Some people also feel a bit of a gastric reflux after having too much lemon.
All in all, do you approve of the lemon water trend?
Yes, I actually grew up drinking hot lemon water. This was something I remember when I was a child in Hong Kong. My mom claims that it helps with cutting into the oils from our meals (I’m not sure about that); but subjectively, it does help with digestion and I do enjoy the taste, plus the natural vitamin C without the calories.
Also, the vitamin C from a fresh lemon serves as a cofactor for collagen production. So this is a great antioxidant for anti-aging.
The verdict: If you enjoy lemon water, drink it
As Dr. Lee mentions above, there’s very little harm that can come from enjoying a tall, icy glass of lemon-infused water. The purported benefits, however, can actually be beneficial for you health-wise.
Starting your day off with a mug of hot lemon water or drinking lemon water at any temperature throughout the day may offer benefits that range from reduced hunger pangs to better digestion. Most importantly of all, it’s a tasty way to increase your daily hydration. And if you swap out sugar-filled or not-so-healthy juices and sweetened drinks with a cup of lemon-infused water, you could see an even more significant potential effect on your overall health.