Sugary drinks have become a standard part of the diet of many Americans. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2011 and 2014, six in 10 American youth and five in 10 American adults drank a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day. Unfortunately, studies have linked the frequent consumption of sweetened beverages to serious conditions like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic liver disease and obesity.
Compared to sweetened drinks, water is not as pleasing to the palate, so it may be difficult to convince people to swap sweetened beverages for plain old water. But adding lemon juice or slices to water may be the solution to this dilemma. Besides infusing flavor into water, lemon also provides plenty of health benefits.
The benefits of adding lemon to your drinking water
Lemon is a versatile food that you can use in and out of the kitchen. Like many citrus fruits, it is a nutrient powerhouse and a rich source of vitamin C. During the Age of Exploration, lemon was widely used to treat a disease called scurvy, which is caused by vitamin C deficiency. And, thanks to its abundance of beneficial compounds, it’s not just nutritional benefits that you can get when you eat a lemon or use it to flavor your drinking water. Here are some of the impressive health benefits of drinking lemon water:
1. It helps reduce sweet cravings
Adding a slice or two of lemon to your drinking water is a good idea. Lemon peel will impart a bitter taste to your drink the longer you leave it to infuse. This bitterness, in turn, can help suppress your sweet cravings. According to a study published in the journal Neuron, compounds responsible for the bitter taste of food influence the activity of a protein that can block your neuronal response to sweet taste.
2. It is rich in antioxidants
Another reason why adding lemon slices to water is good for you is that lemon peel contains high concentrations of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your cells from harmful free radicals by neutralizing these unstable molecules. Without the help of antioxidants, free radicals can cause oxidative stress, which contributes to the development of serious health problems. Some of the antioxidants in lemon peel, like D-limonene and vitamin C, are linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
3. It helps with constipation
Drinking warm lemon water in the morning is great for constipation. Citric acid from lemon can aid your digestion while vitamin C exerts an osmotic effect that pulls water into your colon. These actions can help soften stools and provide relief from constipation. In Ayurveda, lemon water is known to stimulate a person’s “agni”— the energy responsible for digestive and metabolic processes — which helps improve digestion and prevents the buildup of toxins.
4. It helps prevent kidney stones
Kidney stones form when there’s more crystal-forming substances like calcium or oxalate than fluid in your urine. But drinking lemon water can prevent this because it contains citrate, a natural salt found in lemon. Citrate can bind to calcium, effectively blocking crystal formation. You can increase the amount of citrate in your urine by drinking lemon water regularly.
5. It helps keep the skin youthful-looking
Lemon water contains vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant that protects skin cells from the damaging effects of the sun. Vitamin C is also important for the production of collagen, the protein responsible for giving your skin elasticity. Drinking lemon water is an excellent way to keep your skin healthy and younger-looking.
6. It helps control blood sugar
Lemon water is good for diabetics who need to control their blood sugar. Lemon is a rich source of fiber that the body cannot digest easily. The extra time it takes to break down this complex carbohydrate into sugar molecules ensures that sugar is slowly released in the bloodstream, preventing unwanted blood sugar spikes.
Lemon water has two basic ingredients: lemon and water. However, you can enhance the flavor and health benefits of lemon water by adding natural ingredients like mint, raw honey, ginger, cinnamon or turmeric.
Lemon water is safe to drink every day, just make sure you also drink plenty of plain water to prevent citric acid from eroding your tooth enamel. To avoid getting pesticides in your lemon water, use only organically grown lemons.
FoodIsMedicine.com has more on the medicinal uses of lemon and lemon water.