You’ve probably heard by now that it’s a good idea to include some lemon water in your day, but do you know why? Apples get a lot of credit for keeping the doctor away, but if you ask me, it’s lemons that do most of the dirty work. Aside from the obvious benefit of hydration, lemon water also balances your pH, boosts your immune system, keeps your skin looking fresh, and aids in digestion and weight loss. According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the first thing you ingest in the morning sets the entire tone for the rest of the day, so starting your day with lemon water—either warm or cold—is a wise choice.
1. Increases and Maintains an Optimal pH
Are you surprised that I started off the benefits list with pH balance? I didn’t think so. Your body has a very delicate pH balance—and the things that you eat and drink can either decrease this pH balance (making your body more acidic) or increase this pH balance (making your body more alkaline). Having an acidic pH makes you more susceptible to chronic illness and disease, while maintaining an alkaline pH keeps you healthy.
Although it would seem as though lemon water would make your body more acidic because of its high citric acid content, it does the opposite. Once metabolized, lemons become one of the most alkaline foods out there—and adding lemon to your alkaline water every morning is a double whammy.
2. Boosts Your Immune System
Want some natural cold and flu prevention? Just squeeze a lemon into your alkaline water! Lemons are loaded with vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that your body can't make on its own. Your immune system is strongly influenced by the types of nutrients you’re taking in—and vitamin C is a major player in this game. Vitamin C helps stimulate the production of white blood cells—the blood cells that attack foreign invaders in your body and keep you from getting sick. When the levels of vitamin C in your body drop, your body experiences a reduced resistance to certain bacteria and viruses. On the flip side, when the vitamin C levels in your body are high, your immune system becomes stronger than ever. A single lemon contains more than 50% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C.
3. Rejuvenates Skin
Vitamin C doesn’t just boost your immune system, it keeps your skin looking young and fresh. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals—the unstable compounds that lead to aging and disease. Your body’s production of collagen—the connective tissue that gives your skin its firmness and suppleness—relies on adequate amounts of vitamin C. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that regularly consuming vitamin C was associated with fewer wrinkles and younger-looking skin. Where do I sign up?
4. Improves Digestion
A healthy digestive system is vitally important to your overall health. The way you process the food you eat influences everything from your immune system to your mental health. Lemon water not only helps flush out your digestive tract, but because it has an atomic structure similar to that of the juices found in your digestive tract, lemon also encourages the liver to produce bile—a fluid that helps break fats down into smaller components (fatty acids) that you can more readily absorb.
Drinking lemon water warm also helps stimulate peristalsis—or the muscle contractions in your intestinal walls that get your digestive system (and everything in it) moving.
5. Aids in Weight Loss
Lemon juice is a natural diuretic, which means that it helps flush out excess water (and the toxins in that water) out of your body. This can help reduce bloat and inflammation and leave you feeling trimmer and slimmer. Lemons also contain pectin—a type of soluble fiber that helps keep you full longer, so you’re less likely to overeat.
Wanna Kick It Up a Notch?
Add ¼ teaspoon of turmeric, which has long been hailed for its anti-inflammatory properties, to your lemon water. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to healing. When you’re sick or injured, your body triggers an inflammatory response that is designed to heal the infection or injury and restore normal function. In a healthy body, that inflammation goes away as soon as the problem is taken care of. Chronic inflammation, which is an inflammatory response that persists for a long period of time, is a whole different ballgame. Chronic inflammation, which usually develops in response to things like stress, chronic infections, a poor diet, or an autoimmune reaction, is associated with the development of diseases like diabetes, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. The main component of turmeric, called curcumin, helps fight chronic inflammation to keep your body happy and healthy. Like vitamin C, turmeric is also a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals to prevent disease.