8 reasons why drinking lemon water is one of the healthiest ways to hydrate
Small changes can make a big impact on your health. We’re told we need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated — not to mention the million and one reasons why your body needs water to function. But plain water isn’t always so tempting. One way to make your water more exciting is to add lemon juice or a few slices of lemon. It may sound simple, but a little lemon can make you reach for your water bottle more often. Plus, fresh lemon has some potential additional benefits for your health.
“Most of the reported benefits of drinking lemon water are not limited to lemon water, but actually reveal the nutritional and health benefits of lemon,” says Christine Carley, MS, RD, founder of Camelback Nutrition & Wellness. “Mixing these two ingredients together doesn’t produce some magical transformation, but it’s kind of refreshing!”
That’s right – lemon water is not a magic combination that will solve all your health problems, but it certainly has some perks worth mentioning. Here are six nourishing reasons to quench your thirst with lemon water.
Health benefits of lemon water
Lemon water is a great way to drink enough fluids.
The most obvious health benefit of lemon water is that it is a smart way to make yourself drink water. About 60 percent of your body weight is made up of water, so it’s no surprise that it’s involved in many bodily functions, including regulating your body temperature, protecting your organs, and transporting nutrients to your cells. Without enough water, you risk becoming dehydrated, which can have some serious side effects if taken to an extreme.
says Maggie Moon, MS, RD, a Los Angeles-based registered dietitian and authorMind diet. “The brain is made mostly of water, so starving it of water hits hard, leading to symptoms of dehydration as mild as fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating or as severe as disorientation, inability to form sentences, collapse, and even death.”
How much water do you need? While technically every body has a different amount of fluid (depending on unique factors like age, gender, body mass, lifestyle, climate/environment, and activity levels). But having an informed, estimated guideline is helpful: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends nine cups a day for women and 13 cups for men. The average adult in the United States currently drinks about 44 ounces of water per day (about 5.5 cups), according to the CDC, so many of us could benefit from adding more fluids (hello, lemon water) to our daily routine. The good news is that you can get fluids from both foods and drinks.
Related: 10 Super Hydration Drinks More Interesting Than A Glass Of Water
Lemon water is a good source of antioxidants.
If there’s one thing we associate with citrus fruits, it’s antioxidants. Since lemons are rich in antioxidants, lemon water can be a delicious way to reap some of the benefits of an antioxidant-rich diet.
Antioxidants work by preventing cell damage, also known as oxidative stress. This cellular damage has been linked to a variety of diseases, but antioxidants can counteract oxidative stress, thereby preventing disease, according to the National Institutes of Health.
“The more antioxidants, the better,” says Carly. “You can’t really get too many antioxidants in your diet, because they are inversely linked to the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.”
Lemon water contains beneficial vitamin C.
“Lemon water provides vitamin C, and the body needs vitamin C every day,” says Moon. It’s often associated with immune health, but it’s also essential for wound healing, iron absorption, and preventing free radical damage, notes the National Library of Medicine.
Related: 6 Superfoods to Eat for a Strong, Healthy Immune System
Lemon water also provides potassium.
Vitamin C is a notable micronutrient found in lemons, but it is not the only one. While not necessarily the highest potassium food you can heat up, lemons certainly provide some potassium, approximately 32 mg per fluid ounce of lemon juice and about 10 mg per tablespoon of zest. Potassium is an essential mineral (and electrolyte) with many important functions. It is mainly known for its roles in nerve functioning and for helping to regulate blood pressure.
Lemon water contains a healthy compound called citric acid.
Lemon juice is also known for its citric acid content, which is a compound found in citrus fruits that has been linked to many health benefits. Studies have shown that consuming lemons, which are rich in citric acid, can help improve blood pressure. It is also associated with helping prevent kidney stones. In a small 2019 trial, people who drank two liters of lemon juice per day had a reduced risk of developing kidney stones.
Related: Oranges for Immunity: Healthy or Too Much to Eat?
Lemon water can help your body absorb more iron.
When you don’t get enough iron in your diet, you may be at risk of developing an iron deficiency, or anemia. It affects millions of people worldwide, and is more likely to affect women and children than men. Some people naturally have more difficulty absorbing iron, which is why Moon recommends combining iron-rich foods with sources of vitamin C, such as lemon water. Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron in plant foods, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The most readily available form of iron—heme iron, which is found in animal protein—may not need a vitamin C boost, but vegetarians, vegans, and people who consume plant-based sources of iron may find a glass of lemon water alongside their meals can help with iron absorption. Researchers have found that up to 30 percent of the heme iron in animal proteins is absorbed, while only 2 to 9 percent of non-heme iron is absorbed from plant sources. Beans, spinach, seeds, and quinoa are some examples of plant-based sources of non-heme iron. When eating these foods, consider adding lemon juice for flavor or enjoying a glass of lemon water for the added benefit of improving iron absorption.
Lemon water can have anti-aging effects both inside and out.
The benefits of vitamin C for your skin are well understood. In skin care, vitamin C is believed to stimulate collagen, fight free radical damage, boost anti-aging, and hydrate skin cells. And drinking lemon water may have similar effects.
“In addition to acting as an antioxidant in the body, the vitamin C in lemon juice can help with collagen production,” says Carly. “Collagen production naturally declines as we age, which is all the more reason to help support the body’s natural production of collagen by providing the body with plenty of vitamin C.” More research is needed, but there is some evidence that vitamin C increases collagen synthesis.
It can also have anti-aging benefits beyond the appearance of your skin, due to its hydrating powers. “A 2023 study in the Lancetsogt suggests that adults who stay well hydrated slow down their biological clocks,” Moon explains. “The study shows that they are able to slow down premature aging, are healthier and live longer, and are less burdened by chronic disease.” Staying hydrated with lemon water can mean living longer but also ensuring those years are more enjoyable in good health.
Lemon water is a healthy alternative to sugary drinks.
If you drink lemon water, it means that you don’t drink anything else. Water makes up just over half of the nonalcoholic beverages consumed by adults in the United States, but the other half includes sweetened, fruit and diet drinks, according to the CDC. The CDC also notes that an estimated 63 percent of adults in the United States drink sugar-sweetened beverages daily.
“The biggest proponent of including more lemon water in your diet is as a way to replace soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages in your diet,” says Carly. “Adding fruit like lemon to your water is an excellent option if you’re looking for a tasty alternative to sugary drinks.”
While sugar can be enjoyed in moderation, replacing soda, sweet tea and fruit drinks with lemon water can be a great way to lower your sugar intake while increasing your intake of water and antioxidants. the win!
How to make better lemon water
Making lemon water in your kitchen is as simple as it sounds. Moon recommends the following tips for making delicious lemon water:
“Make the most of the lemon peel. Wash the lemon well and drop a little lemon zest right into the water to release its essential oils,” she says. “Then cut a slice and squeeze some juice into it, too.”
Related: If you love sparkling water, we have great news for you
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Read the original article on Real Simple.