Wondering why everyone is suddenly drinking lemon water like it's the nectar of the gods? Click the photo above to read about the real benefits of lemon water, as well as some reasons not to drink too much.

The Lemon Water Craze: Explained


Wondering why everyone is suddenly drinking lemon water like it's the nectar of the gods? Click the photo above to read about the real benefits of lemon water, as well as some reasons not to drink too much.The other day I was browsing my Pinterest feed, only to find it inundated with pins about the benefits of drinking lemon water every morning, AGAIN. They claimed that it could help you lose weight, get sick less often, make your skin glow, and basically just make your life 1000x better. I had been ignoring them, because surely these weren’t well-founded claims. But finally, I had had enough. I had to find out what this lemon water craze is all about. 

It turns out, these lemon water people aren’t as crazy as I thought they were. So if you’re still lost and wondering if you should jump on the lemon water bandwagon, here are 3 reasons lemon water is actually awesome.

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1. Lemons contain insane amounts of vitamin C.

Lets just take a moment to look at the nutrition facts for a whole lemon.

According to nutritiondata.com, a single lemon contains 139% of your daily value for vitamin C. This means that juicing even half a lemon into your water can provide you with about 70% of your daily value of vitamin C. From there, all it takes is 1.5 strawberries, a couple strips of bell pepper, or 1/4 cup of broccoli to get you to 100% of your daily vitamin C. Effortless, right?

But why is getting your daily value of vitamin C so important?

Vitamin C is essential for health, and our bodies don’t make any on their own, so we must consume what we need from food. Not to mention vitamin C is a powerhouse nutrient. Even if it weren’t essential, you’d definitely still want to get as much as you can. Let’s take a quick look at the benefits of vitamin C. [1]

  • Helps maintain strong bones
  • Prevents cell damage (slows existing damage)
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Aids in the absorption of iron from food
  • Boosts collagen (essential in elastic tissues such as skin, tendons, cartilage, blood vessels)

So while there are plenty of sources of vitamin C, lemons are a fairly cheap, low sugar, and tasty source of this powerhouse nutrient, which makes them an ideal addition to your daily diet. 

2. Lemon juice is alkalizing.

You say but wait, Rachel, isn’t lemon juice acidic? Yes, but when you consume it, it counterintuitively causes your body to become more alkaline. 

Next question, why does it matter? 

For our bodies to properly function, the pH of our blood (and most other fluids) needs to be between 7.35 and 7.45 [2] (pH is a scale from 0-14, with 7 being considered neutral, below 7 acidic, and above 7 alkaline, or basic). This small range of 7.35-7.45 is slightly alkaline.

Now, the pH of our bodies is not completely dependent on what we eat. There are systems in place to regulate the pH and keep it in that very small range without fluctuating. However, problems can arise from overworking these pH-regulating systems by eating too many acidifying foods. 

One of the ways that this pH-regulation occurs is through neutralizing acids by binding phosphate ions to them. About 85% of the ions used for this come from calcium phosphate, which is a structural component of bone. So if you need a lot of phosphate ions to neutralize and acidic pH, your body will pull from you bones, weakening them. 

This is why it is important to balance your diet with alkalizing foods (such as lemon water); it makes it easier for your body to maintain proper pH balance on its own. 

3. Lemon juice helps you absorb more nutrients from your food.

Most importantly, the vitamin C in lemon juice helps your body absorb more iron. According to the World Health Organization, about 80% of people in the world do not have enough iron in their bodies. This is because even when you are consuming enough iron, you are usually absorbing at most 35% of it (and more commonly something like 2%, depending on the source). [3]

Vitamin C is an especially powerful aid in iron absorption, boosting it by almost 3 times the regular absorption. [3] So by drinking lemon water, you can increase your iron levels, which helps you avoid the symptoms of iron deficiency, such as fatigue, pale skin, dizziness, headaches, and brittle nails. (#nothanks)

But Remember, Lemon Water is Not a Cure-All

Lemon water is pretty awesome, I know, but remember that it is not a cure-all or a replacement for a healthy diet. 

Actually, drinking too much lemon water can cause several problems (as can an excess of anything, really). An excess of lemon water can lead to:

  • Stress on the body’s pH regulation systems. Just as too much acidic food requires regulation, so does too much alkalizing food. The healthy pH range is very tight (7.35-7.45), so balance is key!
  • Breaking-down tooth enamel. As mentioned above, lemon juice is acidic (even though it alkalizes the body). Acid erodes tooth enamel, which leads to sensitivity, cavities, and even loss of teeth. When you drink lemon water, drink through a straw to minimize contact with the teeth, and consider waiting ~30 after drinking to brush your teeth in the morning. 
  • Over-absorption of iron. I know that I just got done telling you that you probably don’t get enough iron, but if you are taking an iron supplement, too much of any iron-absorption promoter can cause a build up of iron in the body, which is linked to breast cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and diabetes. [4] In short, this is because our bodies are not too great at regulating the amount of iron we absorb from certain sources (beef, for example). So if you are an avid beef-eater, or taking a supplement, be sure not to overdo your consumption of lemon water.

The takeaway here is to consume lemon water in moderation. It can have a myriad of health benefits, but as with any good thing, too much of it can be pretty detrimental.

 

So what do you think? Are you ready to jump in on the lemon water craze? Or do you still have questions? Let me know in the comments below!

 

References:

[1] Dr. Axe

[2] Dr. Ben Kim

[3] Parenting Science

[4] Nutrition Facts

 


About Rachel

Rachel is a blogger and Biophysics Lab Manager who lives in Clemson, SC (go tigers!). After studying conventional pharmaceuticals and how they target specific ailments, she applied that knowledge to figuring out how essential oils can work to treat the same ailments, and ended up creating the blog The Essential Girl. When she’s not blogging or sciencing the shit out of something in the lab, she likes to swing dance and teach group fitness classes.