When I saw several pictures and posts floating around the Internet touting the benefits of drinking lemon water in the morning, I decided to investigate this habit I’d already intuitively had for years.
Benefits to Drinking Lemon Water
Turns out there are real benefits to drinking lemon water, but some over-hyped ones as well.
1. Aids Digestion
The biggest lemon water benefit may be from the temperature of the water and not even the added lemon. Drinking any water, especially warm water, first thing in the morning can help flush the digestive system and rehydrate the body.
Think about this… During sleep, you typically haven’t been drinking for at least 8 hours. Giving the body adequate water when you first wake up is a great way to get your body and your mind going.
A college friend of mine who had studied in Japan brought back that habit with her. She said that where she stayed in Japan, it was customary to drink 2-3 glasses of water first thing in the morning and that when she tried it she had noticeably higher energy levels and seemed to have improved digestion throughout the day.
2. A Natural Flush
The liver is extremely active during sleep since this is the body’s time to restore and regenerate. Drinking enough water, especially in the morning, helps make sure that the body can perform these jobs most effectively. There is even some evidence that lemon juice can help stimulate proper stomach acid production and bile production.
For a happy liver and lymph system, make a habit of drinking 1-2 glasses of lemon water before having coffee or tea.
3. Immune System Boost From Vitamin C
Lemons contain vitamin C (read up on the benefits here)… not a spectacularly high amount, but 30-50 miligrams per lemon. They also contain potassium.
Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning gives the body a chance to absorb these vitamins effectively and can provide a little immune boost.
Vitamin C is also good for the adrenals and can potentially help reduce the effects of stress.
4. Happier Skin
By helping flush the body and improve digestion, lemon water can lead to cleaner skin. It also contains vitamin C which is needed for collagen production for smooth, healthy skin.
5. Healthy Weight
There is evidence that drinking water, especially lemon water, first thing in the morning can help maintain a healthy weight. Researchers in Germany found that drinking enough water increased metabolism. According to this article:
After drinking approximately 17 ounces of water, the subjects’ metabolic rates — or the rate at which calories are burned — increased by 30% for both men and women. The increases occurred within 10 minutes of water consumption and reached a maximum after about 30 to 40 minutes.
Of course, drinking water (or lemon water) by itself isn’t going to be a miracle weight loss solution, but with other healthy habits, it can help maintain a healthy weight.
Things Lemon Water Won’t Do
Drinking enough water and adding a little vitamin C boost are good ideas, but they aren’t magic and there is no scientific backing to some of the claims made online about the benefits of lemon water:
- Balances pH Levels: There is a theory that certain foods can leave an acid or alkaline ash in the body. This is true, but this only affects the pH of the urine and not the pH of the blood. Chris Kresser explains the acid/alkaline myth in-depth here.
- Flushes Toxins: Drinking water is important to help the body naturally eliminate cellular waste (a process that it does naturally), but claims that lemon water has a special ability to flush “toxins” without defining what they are or how this process works are overblown.
- Prevents Cancer: Many of the same articles that claim that lemon water alkalizes the body claim that it promotes an alkaline environment where cancer cells cannot thrive. See the article from Chris Kresser above about why this theory doesn’t make sense.
- Increases IQ: While drinking water or lemon water in the morning can help with alertness and focus, there is no evidence that water with lemon actually increases the IQ over the long term.
Lemon Water: The Bottom Line
It is always important to support our bodies by drinking enough water, especially in the morning. Lemon water won’t be a miracle cure but it might be a better alternative to caffeinated drinks, especially for those with adrenal problems.
One caution: I’ve found that starting to drink water first thing in the morning when you aren’t used to it can cause a few minutes of nausea, so it might be a good idea to start slowly and not used to drinking this much.
How I Drink Lemon Water
I always make sure to drink a few glasses of water in the morning, but a few days a week, I have hot lemon water for the taste and extra vitamin C. Here’s what I do:
Hot Lemon Water Recipe
Lemon water can help boost digestion and energy when consumed first thing in the morning.
- 24+ ounces of warm (not boiling) water
- 1/2 to 1 organic lemon
- 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger root (optional)
- TIP: Zest the organic lemon first and store in the freezer or dehydrate for easy use in recipes.
- Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half or the whole lemon into the water.
- Peel and slice the ginger root (if using) and add to the water.
After drinking, swish with some plain filtered water for 30 seconds to make sure the citric acid from the lemon juice doesn't remain on teeth.
Do you drink lemon water in the morning? Have you noticed any benefits? Share below!
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Scott Soerries, MD, Family Physician and Medical Director of SteadyMD. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.