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Nutrition: The benefits of lemon water

The Lowdown on Lemons

Lemons have been used for centuries and have been highly regarded in the past for treating scurvy, a now rare condition that can develop through a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Vitamin C is often claimed to support the immune system however studies have been inconclusive. One study found that although vitamin C did not prevent otherwise healthy people from catching a common cold, it may shorten the duration of symptoms, and halved the common cold risk in people exposed to short periods of extreme physical stress (e.g. marathon runners). Lemons also contain protective antioxidants called flavonoids. They are low in calories but high in flavour.

Health claims

Headlines have linked drinking lemon water to many other health claims, including: weight loss, improved digestion, ‘alkalising’ effects on the body, improved skin, and detoxification. The research, especially human studies, to support these health claims is minimal.

Some evidence has linked vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) and flavonoids to improvements in skin. Vitamin C is known to help the body produce collagen, which contributes to the integrity of skin.

If you are someone who finds it difficult to drink water, or doesn’t really like the taste, then adding lemon to hot or cold water can make it more palatable; in turn, drinking adequate water will benefit your health. It’s possible to mistake thirst for hunger, so if you have been advised to lose weight, try having a glass of lemon water first when you feel hungry to see if you’re really just thirsty. If you usually opt for fizzy or sugary drinks, lemon water would be a lower-calorie and lower-sugar alternative.

Dehydration is common and can present with headaches, dizziness and tiredness – it’s important to make sure that you consume enough fluid while exercising or in hot weather. The NHS advises drinking 6-8 glasses of fluid, ideally water, a day.

Indigestion, characterised by symptoms of heartburn and bloating, can be uncomfortable. Some people find drinking a glass of lemon water, particularly first thing in the morning, aids digestion. This is mainly subjective and reports are anecdotal.

There are many reported benefits of adding lemon water into your daily routine, and ultimately staying adequately hydrated is going to help keep you healthy. Why not try incorporating lemon water into your diet for a week and see if you notice a difference?

Are you already an advocate of lemon water? Let us know in the comments below!

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