The Surprising Benefits of Lemon Water

Tasty cool beverage with lemon and thyme, on wooden background
Lemon water with a sprig of thyme for a slight twist. Copyright: belchonock / 123RF Stock Photo

When you consider simple beverages then lemon water has to be one of those that commands greater respect. it really is a simple and healthy way to cleanse the digestive system and I know many people who drink it first thing because it makes such a great alternative to coffee.

The first thing you notice about it is the sharpness from lemon juice’s acidity coupled with the pleasant, slight sweet aroma which suggests warmer climates than the one you probably experience I the morning.

I prefer it in slightly tepid water, Cold, icy water is too much of a shock to the system for many so I wouldn’t advocate it first thing unless you enjoy extremely cold showers or plunging into a cold lake !

Lemon juice is your best source but I can suggest PLJ as an alternative if you are prepared to accept it for all its faults – the presence of sulphur dioxide which doesn’t suit those of us allergic to it. Incidentally, sulphur dioxide is there as a preservative so don’t fret about its presence because it keeps lemon juice stable over longer time periods. I can however vouch for it having drunk it at various times when lemons and indeed limes were not available.

Preparation Of Lemon Juice In Water

Take a lemon.

Squeeze by hand or press in a citrus juicer. (We’ve selected a few juicers for your benefit).

Take out the seeds and add water to the juice mixture. Remember the pulp and peel are the main sources of all those wonderful lemon oils and give us that characteristic flavour.

Pour into a glass and drink on its own to get the most of the sharpness and flavour.

To add a little difference, crush some mint leaves or thyme leaves to give it a bit of extra sophistication.

The Key Benefits

Detoxification of The Body

Everybody describes lemon water as a natural detoxicant for the digestive system. There isn’t really anybody out there stating why it shouldn’t work. Firstly, lemon juice in water has been drunk since Roman times and there is some evidence the Ancient Greeks drank it too for these very reasons.

Vitamin C is one key nutrient ! One cup contains 187 per cent of your recommended daily intake (actually 112mg) which competes with blackcurrants and limes leaving oranges a little way behind in terms of content. Energy wise, it contains 61 calories, with 3 grams of protein, 6 grams of sugar but no fat.

The mineral content is 303mg of potassium (9 per cent daily value (DV)), 31.7 micrograms of folate (8 per cent DV) and 0.1mg each of folate and vitamin B6 (8 per cent and 6 per cent respectively). We could go on but these are some of the key values.

When it comes to the gut, lemon juice in water has a pH or acid content similar to that in the stomach so it is naturally complementing the juices. It apparently induces the liver to produce bile which encourages the gut to move through the body and keep the gastrointestinal tract moving.

Acids in the stomach also help the various enzymes operate at their optimum which apparently helps us process foods in a more steady fashion. If stomach movements are more controlled we are less likely to suffer bloating.

It is also a slight diuretic which also means we don’t concentrate urine. That aspect is also an added benefit to its detoxifying potential.

What Is Vitamin C Good For Here ?

The presence of vitamin C is needed not only as an antioxidant for internal benefits but also helps improve our skin. Antioxidants help the body mop up free radicals and redress the oxidative stress which our cells endure ate various times of the day.

We’ve often talked more formally about why vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is needed by cells for production of collagen which means we produce all our structural componentry in part with vit. C’s help. We also know that skin needs a ready supply of collagen to keep it looking young, soft and supple. We should treat vitamin C as an agent to help us keep young. In fact, for those with a cosmetic bent or just wanting to stay young, there is some significant evidence to support the view that vitamin C reduces wrinkles (Cosgrove et al., 2007). That evidence was provided by groups working out of Unilever in the Wirral and at Colworth Park in Bedfordshire.

Incidentally, in that study they used data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This looked at a whole range of nutrient associations and intakes with skin aging in over 4,000 women aged between 40 and 74 years of age. They also found linoleic acid was key to reduced skin wrinkling along with lower intakes of fat and carbohydrate. Their advice in that study was to promote a healthy diet if we wanted the skin we felt we deserved.

Lemon Oil

The peel is full of flavour and if you zest this and add to your lemon water, you can really create some interesting sharpness. Lemon oil has benefits in its own right but why not use it.

What do we suggest are good juicers ?

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Cosgrove, M.C., Franco, O.H., Granger, S.P., Murray, P.G., Mayes, A.E. (2007) Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 86 pp. 1225–1231.

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