Waking up with a glass of warm lemon water or air limau suam has been hailed as a popular health trend. But does the science back up all the hype? Turns out, sipping on this hot citrus-infused drink (speaking of balance, try these Asian health drinks to keep you well) offers a host of healthy perks—especially if you do it first thing in the A.M. Here, seven health benefits of lemon water that’ll convince you to give it a try:
1. It aids your body’s detoxification system
Lemons contain an antioxidant called d-limonene, which has been shown to activate enzymes that help kick your liver into detox-mode, helping flush out built-up toxins. “Lemon water’s atomic structure is similar to the digestive juices found in the stomach,” explains Josh Axe, a natural medicine doctor, doctor of chiropractic, and clinical nutritionist. “As a result, it tricks the liver into producing bile, which helps keep food moving through your body and gastrointestinal tract smoothly.” Read also about myths on juice-cleansing diet to see if it really detoxifies you.
2. It balances your body’s PH
The term pH stands for power of hydrogen, which is a measurement of the alkaline/acidity balance of your body tissues and organs. Ideally, the healthiest pH is slightly alkaline, and even though lemons are acidic on the outside, they’re actually an incredibly alkaline food (get an overview of alkaline here) when absorbed by the body. When your body’s pH is out of whack (excessively acidic), which can be caused by things like alcohol, stress, lack of exercise and a diet high in processed foods, your body’s immune system becomes compromised, leading to inflammation and disease. Incorporating lemon juice into your daily diet will help keep things in balance.
3. It wakes up your digestive tract
This simple yet powerful beverage stimulates your gastrointestinal tract, improving your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and eliminate waste products. The citrus flavonoids in lemon help your stomach break down food, and the warm temperature of the water stimulates peristalsis (muscle contractions) that keep things moving along in the intestines. (Also, read about how to look look less bloated in a day so you are comfortable in that party dress for the weekend)
4. It boosts your immune system
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that helps ward off disease (and, here’s how you avoid a cold or the flu) , and lemons are loaded with it. Just one large lemon contains about 75 percent of your daily requirement. “One cup of fresh lemon juice provides 187 percent of your daily recommended serving of vitamin C,” Axe says. Research has shown that vitamin C can help shorten the duration of cold symptoms and that the best way to reap its benefits is by consuming it in your diet, rather than popping a supplement.
5. It may help you look younger
Another benefit of vitamin C’s free-radical fighting power is that it protects against skin damage. Of course, it’s normal for your skin to gradually lose its elasticity with age, but too much free radical exposure (think pollution, smoke, radiation, UV rays, etc.) accelerates the aging process. Antioxidants, like vitamin C, help keep these toxic molecules in check. Vitamin C also boosts your body’s collagen production, helping to build healthy tissue and keep skin strong and resilient. (Here’s a plan to stay younger longer)
6. It nourishes brain, nerve and muscle cells
Lemons are also a great source of potassium, an essential nutrient that helps send more oxygen your brain and repair muscle cells. In addition to potassium, lemons also offer up a hearty serving of magnesium and copper, says Dr. Axe. Magnesium is particularly important for if you’re active because the body sweats it out during exercise. Copper isn’t a mineral you hear about too often, although it has been gaining popularity recently in skin and beauty products because of its promising anti-aging potential. On the inside, copper helps the body better absorb collagen and is important for energy production. (Try these cheap Malaysian superfoods to help you grow stronger).
7. But it’s not a miracle elixir
“While some have gone so far as to claim that lemon water can cure cancer, that’s not true,” Axe says. “Lemons contain cancer-fighting antioxidants as well as compounds that have been shown to kill cancer cells, but only when used in concentrated amounts.” Instead, he recommends that—no surprise—you should be sure to pair your lemon water with a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Bottom line: Are the health benefits of hot lemon water often dramatised? Probably. But lemons also have tons of nutritional benefits, so adding it to your daily diet does have some real health perks.