I’ve occasionally had a glass of warm lemon water in the morning for years, but usually just because it sounded good and I wanted something warm besides coffee or herbal tea.
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 of 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 milligrams 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
- 24 oz water (warm, not boiling)
- 1 lemon (organic)
- ½ inch ginger (fresh, optional)
- Cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half or the whole lemon into the water.
- If using, peel and slice the ginger and add to the water.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Betsy Greenleaf, the first board certified female urogynecologist in the United States. She is double board certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology, as well as Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
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.
Discussion (218 Comments)
I just wanted to point out that people may want to use a straw to drink it, the acid in the lemon is hard on tooth enamel.
Whether or not it erodes your enamel is dependent on your diet. After re enameling my own teeth in a matter of weeks. I don’t care. I drink grapefruit juice – still acidic all day and have healthier stronger enamel than ever. Guys don’t be worry warts. If u care that much take some raw fermented cod liver oil/butter oil and eat only long-fermented grains and startches and organic grass fed A2 milk. Otherwise your enamel is eroding faster from your bread/crackers, milk, tomatoes, unsoaked beans Than lemon-lemon helps get rid of bad bacteria in your mouth from the bad food too.
I have been trying o make my own vitamin c’s, I saw online how to make the peel lime, lemon, orange and other citrus together and dry them, now do they boost energy strong or what do you recommend? are they the same as vitamin c oil? I also watch your blog and wanting to know how to make probiotic lemonaide. Can I use honey and any kind of sugar or just sucanet?
love lemon water and it’s nice to know that it has so many health benefits,thanks for sharing!
Can I add some honey to it?
I certainly add honey to mine along with a teaspoon of cinnamon. They too have their benefits.
I drink warm water, lemon juice, ginger and a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper for an added metabolism boost!
Yes, by all means!
What about diatomaceous earth, don’t you drink it first thing in the morning? Now I am confused what to take. Which one you take first?
Katie - Wellness Mama
I alternate. I don’t do lemon water every day, but do drink water in some form each day first thing in the morning.
I tried this and ended up with severe nausea and vomitting. I’m thinking it was too much daily for my system. I drink warm ginger tea instead with a slice of lemon in it. I don’t get nausea with this.
Hey there. Do you do oil pulling first and then drink the lemon water or does it matter? Thanks.
Katie - Wellness Mama
You could really do it in either order. I typically drink first and then oi pull.
One of the primary benefits of coconut oil pulling is that it is anti-microbial and that our mouths accumulate bacteria while sleeping. For this reason it is recommended not to swallow the oil but to spit it out after pulling (not down the drain — could clog pipes; coconut oil solidifies below ~ 75 degrees). Based on this, it would be better to oil pull before swallowing anything.
What’s oil pulling?
Katie - Wellness Mama
This post explains it: https://wellnessmama.com/7866/oil-pulling/
I read that if you drink or eat anything, before oil pulling,when you first get up in the morning that you are swallowing all the bacteria that’s accumulated over night?! And that’s why oil pulling is most effective if done as SOON as you get up in the morning. What’s your thoughts on that Katie? Any further advice? Thank you x
Funny, I’ve also been drinking warm lemon water in the morning for years for the same reasons you mentioned. Not every morning, but many. I just love the feel of a warm cup in my hand, but only like to drink coffee occasionally and tea is my evening beverage. I add lemon because plain warm water is just too dull. Nice to know there are some other benefits to my morning ritual. 🙂
I whole heartedly agree about the water. I happen to like the taste of lemon so I add that too. If I’m out of real lemons I add 2 drops of lemon essential oil. Would the oil have the same effect as the juice?
I’ve wanted to drink the lemon water in the morning but didn’t know how to prepare it, so I thank you for telling us about this
will the lemon juice in the bottle work to?
Can I use lemon juice and get the same results?
No, this won’t work.
Of course it will work, why not silly Ruth?
I use the bottled lemon juice – ~16lemons in 1 bottle, saves space in my fridge 😉
and makes preparation sooo much quicker!
This is a quote from joyous health on why lemon juiced months ago and bottled is NOT recommended.
“The number one step I teach people in this workshop is to “Drink freshly squeezed lemon and water in the morning, on an empty stomach”. And the number one question someone ALWAYS asks me is “Can I just buy the lemon juice in the plastic bottle”? My answer is always NO. And let me tell you why….
Two words: Sulfur Dioxide (also known as sulfites)
This chemical is common in our food supply and used as a preservative to prevent the discolouration of fruit (you’ve all seen the bright orange apricots), as an anti-microbial for wine (you’ve likely seen the phrase “contains sulfites”), in frozen pizza dough and pie crust, and in the case of lemon juice, to prevent it from rotting.
I personally avoid buying wine when it states “contains sulfites”. Pretty much all wine contains sulfites to a degree, but I avoid wine brands that have added sulfites. Now before I continue, I don’t want you to think that sulfites are the most evil food additive on planet earth, because that’s not the case. However, I do want you to think about eating more “real food” and that means food that doesn’t contain chemical additives to maintain freshness.
This is the number one food rule: Buy food that can actually rot! This is a really good indication of a REAL food.
Here’s some info for you on sulfur dioxide:
It is used to decolourize paper and cloth, as a bleaching agent and to treat chlorinated wastewater prior to release.
Sulfur dioxide blocks nerve signals from the pulmonary stretch receptor, which is precisely why it mimics asthma-like symptoms. To make matters worse, it also inhibits your lungs from over-inflating, which is why you feel like you can’t take full deep breaths when exposed to sulfites.
Sulfur dioxide emissions are a precursor to acid rain which kills fish and stimulates the overgrowth of algae.
It is the poisonous gas emitted by volcanic eruptions.
Coal and petroleum burn off often contain sulfur compounds.
These types of sulfur compounds are harmful to the environment, plant and animal life.
Now keep in mind I’m not a chemist, but it wouldn’t be too far off to assume the vitamin C and other minerals in the lemon juice are not as potent as they otherwise would be. Furthermore, the LAST thing you want to do is chug back lemon juice that’s been sitting on a store shelf in a plastic bottle potentially leaching phthlates (plastisicers) and BPA (bisphenol-A) in to the juice.
What kind of nutrition are you getting from a fruit that’s likely been squeezed 6 months or even 2 years ago and packaged for sale and then potentially sit in your fridge for another 6 months to a year.
Just buy a bag of lemons and squeeze the juice every morning. If you don’t like lemons, then 1 capful of apple cider vinegar does the trick too! The beautifying, detoxifying benefits of endless”
Everything I’ve read recommends fresh – organic (if you can find them) lemons. The bottled stuff loses it’s nutrients.
no, its recommended that you use an organic lemon
Yes, I use Santa Cruz Organic Lemon Juice, about 1 tablespoon in a glass of room temperature water. I also add about 1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan Crystal Salt. It has really made me feel better. Really!
I also use Santa Cruz Organic Lemon Juice. A past post states not to use bottled lemon juice, but I am guessing they are not referring to “organic” juice.
I doubt it. Most bottled water with lemon flavor is artificial flavoring and most of the benefits of lemon water are due to the hot water being helpful with digestion (aka good for colon elimination).
The question was about bottled lemon juice, not bottled/flavored water. And there is just no reason why hot water is better for digestion…your body warms everything to your core temperature anyway. Whether it’s freezing cold or drinkably hot, it’s all going to be the same temp within a few minutes of swallowing it anyway.
No, real lemon it the best.
Yes, it’s the same thing. You don’t have to look at the How to make lemon water. It’s simple just put lemon in water. Or I guess you can squeeze the lemon if you want.
Amazing how this pretty old post draws my attention TODAY, 24 Feb.2014!
And we are still discussing the pros and cons of using natural products?
Whenever I look at people holding their plastic water bottles I have 2 thoughts:
1. is this bottle PBA free? (of course, it never is)
2. is the water in this bottle worth what you paid for it?
How stupid are we to make a marketing trick rule us and make us damage the environment so much?
Have you, bottled water drinkers, heard how much damage we are doing to the oceans?
How many bottles are YOU discarding in a month? Tell us!
I recycle my water bottles. I don’t worry about the PBA hype-just one more thing for people to be neurotic about. I use 1 bottle a week, refill it for each workout and when I’m on the run. I drink a lot of water every day. There are much bigger issues killing our environment I’m afraid. Relax and have a glass of water. (if that makes you happy)
I installed a cheap water filter system on my kitchen tap. It has lasted 8 years and still going strong. I keep a couple of bottles topped up in the fridge so always ready for use. I don’t worry about the BPA hype, there are some things you have to let go. But I do empty my water bottle over my pot plants as I open the front door.
I buy the gallon water jugs – less expensive , and less to the environment , of course I recycle . Just saying .
I put lemon juice in my water bottle and drink it everyday or when I’m thirsty ,your say that’s not good now,it’s bottle lemon
No, it has to be natural lemon not altered by man.
Organic lemon concentrate works for me.
I haven’t noticed anyone replying giving you the best answer to your question- you should use real lemon because it simply tastes better. Make a lemonade with real and with bottled and I bet you like the real one better!
I was told to only use organic lemons and no bottled lemon juice. I seem to frequent the bathroom more, anyone else notice this? Skin definitely better as well as digestion.
I was told it didn’t really matter about organic lemons but I still try to buy them when they’re on offer. If I get organic I also zest them before I juice them. Keep the zest in the freezer for use in recipes one of which is adding it to oatmeal. It makes for such a yummy taste. I digress!! It’s a natural diuretic which causes the bathroom breaks.
You’re not alone. I quit drinking sodas and only drink water and lemon water. I constantly have to go to the bathroom as well. I know im fully hydrated lol
No . you should always use fresh organic lemons!
I know me too, it just seemed like such a complicated recipe…. I’ll admit- I was intimidated.
I read through many of these questions and comments. I am surprised to see so many on bottled lemon juice (whether organic or not) vs. fresh lemons. No one mentioned the fact that bottled juice is generally pasteurized. When something is pasteurized, the enzymes are destroyed, along with some of the nutrients. Re: plastic bottles, there are lemon juice bottles in glass. I agree the best is organic fresh lemons, but if someone is using pure bottled lemon juice as opposed to sodas and other “bad” drinks, this is better than the “bad” drinks they might otherwise drink.
Straight!!!! And now it’s 2022 and I’m reading this….. right lol crazy!!!!
Since two weeks i hv been having a tonic drink of a lemon, grapes, n garlic all blended toghether. I get the fibres, vitamins n its nice. I hv been able to quit smoking habit of 10years at the mere thought that while on one hand i am detoxifying my body why should i inhale smoke. Anyways i feel full of energy, with a special glow on my face as noticed by my peers. It makes me councious at every minute of the day of what should i eat n what not
Do I drink the lemon water everyday or a couple times a day or once a day or once every week. every day around 3 o’clock I do a apple cider vinegar with mother a tablespoon of honey which is very local about 2 blocks from my house and 2 tablespoons of water is that the same benefit as the lemon water cuz I can do it in the morning. waiting for your reply thank you and I do the apple cider vinegar with mother everyday doesn’t that benefit the same thing that lemon water does or not thank you