Drinking lemon water seems to be all the rage these days. But there is currently no evidence suggesting that lemon water reduces blood sugar if you have type 2 diabetes, or T2DM.
Even so, lemon water is a good beverage option if you have diabetes. It's easy to make, refreshing, low in calories and carbohydrates, and can help keep you hydrated, like plain water. So there's no reason not to reach for a glass the next time you're thirsty.
While lemon water doesn't impact diabetes directly, it's a refreshing way to help you stay hydrated.
Read more: 5 Ways Drinking Lemon Juice Helps Your Body
Lemon and Diabetes
Lemons and other citrus fruits are on the American Diabetes Association's list of diabetes "super foods" because they are rich in soluble fiber and vitamin C, which may help reduce blood sugar, among other benefits.
However, lemon water contains very little of either nutrient. For example, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice contain only about 12 mg of vitamin C and 0.1 g of dietary fiber, according to the USDA.
To put this in perspective, the recommended intake for vitamin C is 75 to 90 mg per day for adults, and the recommended intake for fiber is 21 to 28 g per day, depending on age and sex, according to The National Academies of Sciences. Therefore, drinking lemon water is unlikely to provide enough fiber or vitamin C to have specific beneficial effects for people with T2DM.
Read more: How to Drink Lemon Water to Lose Weight
Lemon Juice and Blood Sugar
A review article published in the July 2014 issue of Advances in Nutrition suggests that naringinen, a chemical compound found in lemons and other citrus fruits, may have antidiabetic properties. To date, these effects have been studied only in animals. For example, naringenin supplementation in diabetic rats decreased fasting blood sugar and A1C, a measure of long-term blood sugar control. It also increased insulin levels.
Research is needed to determine if naringenin has similar effects in humans. Even if it does, the amount of naringenin in lemon water is likely to have no effect because there is only about 0.5 mg in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, according to a 2006 article published by Journal of Food Composition and Analysis — a dosage thousands of times less than the dosage used in animal research.
Add Lemon to Stay Hydrated
Even though drinking lemon water may not have a direct effect on T2DM, it is a much healthier drink than sugar-sweetened beverages, such as regular soda and sweet tea. It's also lower in calories and carbohydrates than fruit juices.
Like plain water, lemon water is also a good way to hydrate. According to Oldways Nutrition Exchange, staying hydrated helps flush excess sugar out of the blood stream, lowering blood sugar in people with T2DM. Finally, some people find that they're more likely to drink lemon water than plain water, because it's more flavorful.
Consume with Caution
If you're finding it a challenge to control your blood sugars, talk with your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian for guidance about healthy food and beverage choices as well as any other concerns.
Also keep in mind that, because lemon juice is acidic, it might erode the enamel on your teeth over time, making them susceptible to tooth decay. Drinking lemon water with a straw or rinsing your mouth with water after drinking will help avoid this issue.
- American Diabetes Association: "Diabetes Superfoods"
- USDA National Nutrient Database: "Lemon Juice, Raw"
- Advances in Nutrition: "Effect of Citrus Flavonoids, Naringin and Naringenin, on Metabolic Syndrome and Their Mechanisms of Action"
- Oldways Nutrition Exchange: "Diabetes and Healthy Hydration"
- The National Academies of Sciences: "Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Vitamins"
- The National Academies of Science: "Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients"
- Journal of Food Composition and Analysis: "Flavanones in Grapefruit, Lemons, and Limes: A Compilation and Review of the Data From the Analytical Literature"