Packed with antioxidants and other health benefits, a glass of water with the juice of half a lemon revitalises the body and mind. Here are 10 reasons to drink it first thing:
1 Supports the immune system: The juice of half a lemon in a glass of water is rich in vitamin C, which helps boost the immune system and assists the body in fighting colds and flu. Nutritionist Michele Chevalley Hedge says lemon also enhances the body’s ability to absorb iron, an important nutrient for a healthy immune system. “Vitamin C may increase non-heme iron bioavailability fourfold,” Chevalley Hedge says. “This refers to iron availability in the body from non-meat sources.”
2 Aids digestion: As lemon juice is similar in atomic structure to the stomach’s digestive juices, it has a positive effect on the gastrointestinal tract. It helps cleanse the bowel by flushing out waste more efficiently and stimulates the release of gastric juices, which aid digestion. The digestive qualities of lemon juice can also help relieve symptoms of indigestion, heartburn and bloating.
3 Repairs skin: Lemons are great for combating skin ageing, Chevalley Hedge says. The antioxidant properties help combat free radical damage, which is responsible for the symptoms of ageing. “We know that lemons are rich in vitamin C and that is really what creates collagen synthesis, which is wonderful in terms of keeping wrinkles at bay,” she says. “Vitamin C is required in the synthesis of amino acids into collagen and the job of collagen and connective tissue is to hold things tight and protect our skin tissue.”
4 Reduces appetite: Lemons contain pectin, a soluble fibre commonly found in citrus fruits. Pectin helps stave off hunger as the fibre creates a feeling of fullness, which results in the suppression of hunger cravings. By feeling fuller for longer,
you’re less likely to snack or make poor
5 Balances pH levels: Lemons are one of the most alkalising foods for the body and a good pH level is essential as too much acidity in the body can be inflammatory. “Lemon water is very alkalising and most of us have acidic bodies,” Chevalley Hedge says. “Educated foodies still think of lemons as being acidic when they are quite alkalising.”
6 Cleanses the urinary tract: Lemon juice is a diuretic, meaning it encourages the production of urine. As a result, toxins are released at a faster rate, helping to purify the system and keep it healthy. Lemon juice can also change the pH level of the urinary tract which discourages the proliferation of bad bacteria.
7 Freshens breath: The antiseptic qualities in lemon juice help kill off bad bacteria in the mouth by acting as a disinfectant. A glass of lemon water is also a healthier morning wake-you-up than coffee. While there is no evidence-based research on lemon water’s optimal temperature, Chevalley Hedge recommends drinking it at room temperature. “Most health professionals agree room temperature is closer to your own body’s temperature and seems to calm the digestive system,” she says.
If you’re concerned about the acid harming tooth enamel, rinse your mouth with water afterwards. “You would have to drink copious amounts of lemon water to strip the enamel,” Chevalley Hedge says.
8 Protects overall health: High levels of potassium in lemons can help brain and nerve functioning and control blood pressure. Lemon water can also ward off stress and depression, which have been linked to low levels of potassium. Lemons also contain vitamin P, which improves capillary permeability and overall blood flow.
9 Promotes healing: Ascorbic acid, vitamin C, promotes wound healing in the body and is an important nutrient in maintaining healthy bones, tissue and cartilage. It also calms inflammation in the body.
“Vitamin C travels through the body, neutralising any free radicals,” Chevalley Hedge says. “Free radicals can interact with the healthy cells of the body, damaging them and their membranes and causing inflammation.”
10 Detoxifies the liver: Lemon water acts as a liver cleanser by assisting in detoxification. It purifies and stimulates the liver by encouraging the production of bile, an acid required for digestion. Lemon water can also help control excess bile flow, decrease the amount of phlegm produced by the body and assist in dissolving gallstones.
BY Kirsten Hyam, body+soul