Drink Lemon Water... Or Not!

For a while this summer, I've been squeezing a little lemon juice into my glass of water.  Historically, I was never a flavored-water person (and still would not say that I am), but the sour lemon taste added an awakening feature to my standard chilled water.  In July's heat, it was very refreshing!

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I previously wrote about the importance of hydration and was planning to write about the benefits of drinking lemon water.  After all, it's obviously healthy, right?  There must be many gains to be had by introducing the extra vitamins, right?

When I went to find some sources to back me up, I had a difficult time.  Sure, Googling "lemon water benefits" yields countless results claiming it results in improved digestion, glowing skin, disease prevention, weight loss, and even antibacterial properties.  The problem was, most of the claims were weakly supported, if at all.  Most weakly offered: "It's said that..." or "Some say..."

But ... who says?

I turned to HealthTap.com to see what the doctors had to say on this subject, and their responses to questions on lemon water surprised me.  Most simply said, "No."

No, it doesn't have any measurable health benefits.   
No, there's no medical literature supporting this claim.   
Yes, lemons have vitamin C, a health antioxidant, but it is also acidic and can erode the teeth.    
No, you won't see weight loss from the lemons alone, but water--flavored or not--will help keep you hydrated and see the benefits of hydration.

Huh.  Interesting!  I'd expected lots of head nods, but got rebuffed.  I kept digging, but positive, science-based support was hard to find.  I did find a bit more support for the vitamin C benefits, and further research found that the citric acid in lemons can help protect against kidney stones.  While natural lemons juice and lime juice may be a better source of citric acid than store-bought juices, you'd have to drink the equivalent of a half a cup of pure lemon juice to get a medicinal effect.

So... not convinced!   Although lemons are great and all, you may need to drink a LOT to get any notable effects.

The main benefit of lemon water seems to be that, for those people who dislike plain water (these are people I will never understand), it adds flavor and encourages them to drink more water.  Drinking more water, then, keeps you properly hydrated and thus improves digestion, complexion, energy levels, and so forth.

On the other hand... it's also very possible that poor little lemons lack scientific support simply because they don't have Big Pharma funding research or clinical trials on their behalf. ($$$) Hm...

Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Do I dare you to?  If you're so inclined, go ahead and squeeze juice from lemons, limes, or cucumbers into your water.  It won't be transformative magic juice, but if it tastes good or helps you to drink water, then enjoy!  That may be reason enough for plenty of people to add lemon to their water.

IF you drink lemon water very frequently, you can drink with a straw to minimize the citric acid's effects on your tooth enamel.  (But beware swallowing extra air through the straw! Ah!)  And Monica Reinagle, M.S., LD/N, reminds us not to brush our teeth immediately after consuming any acidic liquid.

So tell me: 

  • Am I missing something--have you found evidence for lemon water health benefits? 
  • Do you enjoy citrus-flavored water? 

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