If you’re like most people and don’t have the time to prepare a cold pressed celery juice or harvest a tray of wheatgrass each morning, then the next best thing science says you can do is drink lemon juice and water.
In fact, it might just be the simplest, cheapest, and fastest morning ritual you can do for your long-term health (and waistline).
“Lemon Water” as it is known, can come in many variations, which you’ll see recipes for below, but the goodness lies in the healing benefits of this humble citrus fruit (you can use lime too).
But first, let’s do a quick history tour on lemon water because it’s quite fascinating.
The History of Lemons and Lemon Water
Lemons are thought to have originated in the North West region of India where they had been cultivated for over 2,500 years. It makes sense that this morning ritual was rooted in the ancient science of Ayurveda which used lemon water to help loosen “ama”, or toxins, and to stimulate digestion.
Ancient Egyptians are said to have used lemons and lemon juice as a protection against many poisons (and for embalming dead bodies… nice!). The Ancient Greeks used lemons to preserve food, cleanse water, and even treat certain illnesses.
Lemons were then later introduced into Spain, then North Africa, then later to wider Europe, and then, in 1493, brought by Christoper Columbus in seed form to the Americas.
Probably most famously, in 1747 Scottish physician James Lind used lemons and lemon water to treat scurvy amongst sailors suffering from Vitamin C deficiency (even though Vitamin C was not the known cause at the time).
Ok, now let’s jump to the good stuff. Here are 7 powerful benefits of drinking lemon water first thing in the morning.
1. Helps Flush Out Toxins
Overnight your liver goes to work while you’re sleeping to help restore and regenerate your body. During this process, it naturally accumulates toxins which are collected for release the next day. Drinking lemon water in the morning helps to support the liver function and flush out toxins whilst also giving the liver the hydration it needs to operate more efficiently. Two birds, one stone.
Animal studies even show that the citric acid helps to protect liver function and prevent oxidative damage helping to support your liver’s role in detoxification.
Additionally, according to the Medical Medium, Anthony William (the man who brought us celery juice!) lemons (and limes) contain micro mineral salts which help the body break down pathogens such as bacteria, mold, yeast, and fungus and help protect your liver’s immune system.
2. Promotes Glowing Skin & Anti-Aging
Lemons contain the wondrous antioxidant Vitamin C. This can help to fight free radical damage keeping your skin looking fresh and helping slow down the aging process. Getting sufficient Vitamin C also helps the body to produce collagen, which is essential to smoothing out fine lines on the face.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition backs this theory with research suggesting that regularly consuming vitamin C leads to younger looking skin with fewer wrinkles. Winning!
3. Helps to Boost Your Energy Levels & Mood
Move over coffee (but if you must, you can have it after your lemon water)! Research has shown that lemon water in the morning can help boost your energy levels and mood. They found that the negatively charged ions in lemons enter your digestive tract and have a natural energy-enhancing effect on the body.
And the scent alone of a lemon (we’ve all seen the rind emit a soothing lemon-scented mist when squeezed) has been shown to improve mood and reduce stress.
4. Helps Support Weight Loss
Ok, now this is probably more because of the water than the lemon specifically, but I’m almost certain your waistline doesn't mind…
Researchers in Germany have found that drinking sufficient water (more than most people do) can help boost metabolism and increases the rate at which you can burn calories.
“After drinking approximately 17 ounces of water, the subjects' metabolic rates -- or the rate at which calories are burned -- increased by 30% for both men and women.” How good is that!
5. Helps Stimulate a Sluggish Fatty Liver
No-one wants a stagnate, sluggish, and fatty liver but Fatty Liver Disease is becoming increasingly common and affects about 25% of people globally. If it’s not properly addressed, it can progress to more serious liver disease and is linked to type 2 diabetes.
The symptoms are not fun at all and include fatigue and weakness, abdominal pain, elevated insulin levels and even elevated triglyceride levels.
Drinking lemon juice and water helps to loosen and disperse the fat cells within the liver because of the special combination of vitamin C and calcium present in lemons and limes, which bind together and enter into the liver.
6. Helps to Hydrate Your Body
When I first interviewed David Wolfe for the Food Matters film, he said something quite profound that has stuck with me ever since.
He said that the problem is not ‘out there’, it's not immigrants, or some war, or lack of health care... the biggest problem is that we’re actually suffering from is a global dehydration epidemic. Which is leading to constipation and over-toxicity. His advice was to drink 16 or more ounces of water first thing in the morning before anything else. And that this would help to hydrate and flush out your body (and help you go to the toilet for a #1 and a #2).
In fact, drinking lemon water in the morning is the perfect solution as it helps to activate your water and bring it back to life. Anthony William, the medical medium, says that “Water coming straight from the tap or a bottle has lost its vitality and its innate living structure. By adding freshly squeezed lemon juice, you “wake up” the water and bring it back to life. This allows it to travel more deeply into your tissues and cells and carry the essential nutrients and compounds you need in order to thrive.”
7. Helps to Alkalize Your Cells & Balance Your pH
According to the acid / alkaline theory of health, our modern diet contains too many acid-forming foods (sugar, dairy, meat, refined carbohydrates, chemical additives etc..) and not enough alkaline forming foods (greens, vegetables, low sugar fruits, etc..) which can result in a net ‘acid’ environment in the blood.
When examined under a microscope, the cells of an acidic blood sample are said to be thick, sticky, and do not operate with efficiency. They don’t carry oxygen as well, they lose some of their electric charge, and appear to become less efficient at eliminating waste and taking on nutrients. This may lead to depleted immunity and increased illness or disease.
Research is starting to support this theory, showing that an alkaline diet may be beneficial for relieving chronic pain, boosting bone health, and protecting against disease (source) and that an alkaline diet could enhance cancer treatment effectiveness.
The solution? Eat more alkaline foods (and relax more). Turns out that lemon water, although considered acidic, actually has an alkalizing effect on the body, helping to balance your body’s pH and optimize overall health. Bottoms up!
Be Careful of This One Thing
Drinking lemon juice in water can break down the enamel on your teeth over time. This is easy to overcome, however, by simply drinking a small amount of fresh water after your lemon water or by using a straw. Phew.
Questions & Answers
Can I use limes instead and do they have the same benefits?
What’s the best time of day to drink lemon water?
First thing in the morning before eating any foods. And throughout the day as you desire a pick me up.
What’s the best way to juice the lemons?
I love the hand press juicer tools where you cut the lemon in half, place it face down and squeeze shut the single hand clamp. Efficient, fun, and easy.
How much water should I have with my lemon juice?
Ideally, 16 ounces. This gives you sufficient hydration to add to the overall benefit.
Can I add other things to my water?
Yes, see recipe inspiration below.
Can I make my lemon water in advance?
Yes, but fresh is always best. Keep your pre-prepared lemon water in a sealed jar for up to 24 hours.
What temperature should the water be?
Room temperature is best. Cold is fine too. Hot is not ideal as it will kill off the heat sensitive vitamin C.
Can I have my lemon water straight after brushing my teeth?
It's best to wait 10-15 minutes after brushing your teeth to have your lemon water. If you are in a rush, grab a reusable straw.
Won't it damage my teeth enamel?
The lemon juice is diluted enough in the water to have minimal impact on your teeth. If you are concerned with this try using a reusable straw.
Can I eat straight after my lemon water?
Ideally waiting 15-30 minutes before eating is ideal to ensure it has time to digest and not dilute your digestive juices.
Can I use store bought lemon juice from a bottle?
Fresh is best! Bottled lemon juice has preservatives and additives added to it, most bottled juices are pasteurized as well so likely the nutrients are compromised.
Can I use Lemon Essential Oils?
Fresh lemons help to make the water come alive as it’s a raw living food. Essential oils are great, though they are extracted from the rind of the lemon so they have slightly different benefits. I would go for essential oils only if I didn’t have fresh lemons or limes.
Can I have more than one glass?
Go for it!
Lemon Water Recipe
- 16 oz filtered or spring water
- 1 lemon or lime juiced
- Pinch of unrefined sea salt
- Fresh ginger root (juiced or slices)
- Fresh turmeric root (juiced or slices)
- Powdered cayenne pepper
- Raw honey