Does lemon water detox sound tempting? Drinking lemon water in the morning is unlikely to "cleanse" your liver and flush toxins, but it has other health benefits. A strong immune system, younger-looking skin and weight loss are just a few of its perks.
Why Drink Lemon Water?
Celebrities and health bloggers swear by lemon water for a leaner body, greater energy and optimal digestion. Based on the current evidence, these claims are overhyped. However, lemon water does have its pluses and can make it easier to get more nutrients in your diet.
This beverage is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, copper and antioxidants. These nutrients are found in lemon juice, its primary ingredient. The USDA reports that a half-cup of fresh lemon juice provides:
- 27 calories
- 8.4 grams of carbs, including 3.1 grams of sugars
- 52 percent of the DV (daily value) of vitamin C
- 6 percent of the DV of folate
- 2 percent of the DV of vitamin B1
- 3 percent of the DV of potassium
- 2 percent of the DV of magnesium
- 18.3 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin
- 4.9 micrograms of beta-cryptoxanthin
Citrus fruits, including lemons, are also rich in polyphenols, such as flavanones, flavones, naringenin and luteolin, according to a January 2014 report featured in European Food Research and Technology. Flavonoids have been shown to reduce inflammation, inhibit platelet aggregation, protect against cancer and reduce oxidative stress.
Beware, though, that lemon water detox diets are just a fad. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that detox plans may not be safe. Furthermore, they are unlikely to improve your health or rid your body of toxins.
Read more: How to Detox in 3 Days Without Juicing
Detox diet plans may lead to weight loss — but that's because they're low in calories. You'll likely gain the pounds back as soon as you return to normal eating. Drink lemon water in the morning or anytime throughout the day —but remember to consume it as part of a balanced diet to fully reap the benefits.
Lemon Water Benefits
Both lemon juice and water support overall health. Lemon juice is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, keeping your immune system strong. Vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis and protects your skin from sun damage, which in turn, may slow aging. Water promotes digestive health, carries nutrients to your cells and helps flush metabolic waste.
Lemon water might also help with weight loss by keeping you hydrated. According to a June 2016 review published in Frontiers in Nutrition, there's a strong link between hydration and body weight. Researchers suggest that proper hydration stimulates fat breakdown, increases metabolism and makes it easier to reduce your food intake.
A February 2016 study published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics indicates that drinking more water may help decrease the consumption of soda, sugary foods and high-fat foods. Replace fruit juices, milkshakes, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages with lemon water to cut calories without giving up flavor.
Lemon water will fill you up quickly and quench your thirst while increasing your antioxidant intake. That's why it might be a good idea to drink it between meals or whenever you feel thirsty — not just after you wake up.
Read more: How Do You Make Lemon Water to Lose Weight?
Speaking of antioxidants, naringenin, one of the most abundant flavonoids in lemons and their juice, protects against inflammation and free radical damage. It may also lower your risk of metabolic syndrome and obesity due to its anti-inflammatory properties, according to a July 2014 review posted in Advances in Nutrition. Furthermore, this nutrient supports liver health and may help reduce the harmful effects of alcohol and heavy metals, such as lead and arsenic, on hepatic function.
Is Hot Lemon Water Safe?
Now that you know more about the nutrients in lemon water, it's easy to understand why this drink is so popular. Proponents actually recommend starting your day with hot water and lemon rather than coffee. Hot water, though, can do more harm than good.
A cohort study published in the International Journal of Cancer in March 2019 assessed the effects of hot beverages on cancer risk. Subjects who consumed more than 700 milliliters of hot tea per day over several years had 90 percent higher chances of developing esophageal cancer than those drinking cold or lukewarm tea. Furthermore, your body burns an extra 8 calories when you drink ice-cold water compared to room temperature water.
Based on these findings, it's fair to say than hot lemon water isn't the best choice. Mix lemon juice with cold or lukewarm water to enjoy its benefits. Remember that moderation is the key. Citrus fruits and juices, including lemon juice, can damage the tooth enamel and cause decay over time, so try not to go overboard.
- USDA: "Nutrition Facts for Raw Lemon Juice"
- European Food Research and Technology: "Polyphenolic Contents in Citrus Fruit Juices: Authenticity Assessment"
- EXCLI Journal: "Recent Studies on Flavonoids and Their Antioxidant Activities"
- National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Detoxes and Cleanses"
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Vitamin C and Skin Health"
- Mayo Clinic: "Functions of Water in the Body"
- Frontiers in Nutrition: "Increased Hydration Can Be Associated With Weight Loss"
- Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: "Plain Water Consumption in Relation to Energy Intake and Diet Quality Among US Adults, 2005–2012"
- Oncotarget: "Naringenin: An Analgesic and Anti-Inflammatory Citrus Flavanone"
- Advances in Nutrition: "Effect of Citrus Flavonoids, Naringin and Naringenin, on Metabolic Syndrome and Their Mechanisms of Action"
- International Journal of Cancer: "A Prospective Study of Tea Drinking Temperature and Risk of Esophageal Squamous Cell Carcinoma"
- University of Washington: "Mythbusters: Will Drinking Water Help With…?"
- American Dental Association: "Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth"
- Women's Health: Lemon Water
- ORAC Values: A Database of Top Antioxidants
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database: Vitamin C
- Oregon State University: Vitamin C