What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Lemon Water

What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Lemon Water
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Lemons are kind of magical. These bright yellow fruits not only add a tangy zip to your favorite dishes, but they’re also packed with health benefits that go way beyond that refreshing glass of lemonade.

Confession time: for years, my mornings consisted of hitting snooze repeatedly, gulping down a lukewarm cup of coffee (black, because #adulting), and rushing out the door. My body felt sluggish, my skin looked dull, and don’t even get me started on the afternoon slump that hit me like a ton of bricks around 3 pm.

Then, I stumbled upon the internet’s love affair with lemon water. Everywhere I turned, articles were raving about its magical health benefits. Intrigued, but also a healthy dose of skeptical, I decided to give it a shot. What’s the worst that could happen, right? Except maybe a sour stomach?

So, one brisk morning, I replaced my usual coffee routine with a tall glass of warm lemon water. The taste was…well, let’s just say it was an adjustment. But hey, I was on a mission for health, right? And that mission, my friends, turned into a journey of unexpected discoveries.

Benefits of drinking lemon water

Due to its high vitamin C levels, flavonoid content, and acidity, drinking lemon water may offer the following health benefits.

Antioxidants and flavonoids

Lemons contain vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, and are a source of plant compounds called flavonoids, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

Antioxidants are compounds that help protect the body’s cells from damage. By reducing cell damage, antioxidants help to reduce the risk of many health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer.

Antioxidants do this by mopping up free radicals, which are harmful, disease-causing compounds in the body created by oxidative stress.

Research links chronic inflammation with increased oxidative stress and the risk of certain health conditions, including arthritis, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and cancer.

One 2019 review reports that the antioxidants and flavonoids in citrus fruits can improve heart health and metabolic health markers, including glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and fat metabolism.

Vitamin C is also important for immune system function, wound healing, and helping the body absorb iron from foods.

Kidney stones

Kidney stones are a buildup of minerals that collect in the kidneys.

Increasing the amount of citrate in the body can help prevent kidney stones from forming by stopping calcium from binding with other compounds. Lemon water contains high amounts of citrate.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, research suggests that drinking lemon water may help prevent kidney stones.

Not drinking enough water can increase the risk of kidney stones. Drinking more water can, therefore, help prevent kidney stones, whether or not there is lemon in it.

The benefits of water

Since lemon water is water with lemon juice, it has all the benefits of regular water.

Drinking plenty of water can :

  1. prevent dehydration, which can contribute to mood changes, constipation, and brain fog
  2. help people maintain a moderate weight when replacing sugary drinks
  3. lubricate the joints
  4. promote bodily waste extraction through urination, sweating, and bowel movements
  5. protect the spinal cord and tissues in the body
  6. help someone maintain a moderate temperature


There are many other health claims about lemon water, but most do not have any scientific evidence to support them. Research has even disproved some of them.

Below are six common myths about the health benefits of lemon water.

Lemon water aids weight loss

Lemons contain a type of fiber called pectin, which may help reduce appetite and calorie intake.

However, lemon water is basically diluted lemon juice, which leaves it with only trace amounts of pectin. In fact, the juice of a whole lemon contains less than 1 g of fiber.

There is no evidence to suggest that lemon water has more benefits for weight loss than plain water.

That said, lemon juice is naturally low in calories. Replacing sugary soda with fresh lemon water is a healthful way to reduce calorie intake, which is a positive step toward weight management.

Lemon water alkalizes the body

According to proponents of the alkaline diet, foods leave an “ash” in the system that influences the pH of a person’s body — that is, how acidic or alkaline it becomes.

Some suggest that lemon water is alkalizing. However, what a person eats or drinks does not affect the acidity of their blood or body cells.

Although consuming more alkaline foods can be healthful because these include fruits and vegetables, the health benefits are unlikely to come from their effects on the body’s acidity levels.

Lemon water fights cancer

Some sources claim that lemon water could help prevent cancer. This is due to the alkaline diet theory and the premise that certain cancer cells cannot thrive in an alkaline environment.

Eating a balanced diet with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables can help to reduce the risk of cancer. However, there is currently no research that suggests lemon water will prevent or treat cancer.

Lemon water cleanses and detoxes

Water helps eliminate waste from the body through urine and healthy bowel movements. However, there is no evidence suggesting that lemon water is better than plain water for this.

In fact, most claims that foods or beverages can cleanse or detoxify the organs are not grounded in scientific fact. That includes claims about the lemon water detox diet.

Lemon water raises IQ

Drinking water, either plain or with added lemon, can prevent dehydration, which can negatively affect someone’s focus and concentration. However, there is no scientific evidence that suggests it increases intelligence.

Lemon water is a diuretic

Water is an effective diuretic, a substance that encourages urination. However, any food that contains potassium could increase urine output. That includes virtually all fruits, vegetables, meat, and dairy products, including lemons.


Lemon water is safe to drink. However, the acid in the lemons can damage tooth enamel over time, making the teeth more prone to cavities.

Drinking acidic drinks through a straw can help protect the teeth. Rinsing the mouth out afterward may also help.

It may be best to avoid brushing the teeth straight after drinking lemon water, as the enamel may be in an acid-softened state. People who drink lemon water in the morning may wish to brush their teeth before breakfast.

Hot vs. cold lemon water

The best temperature to drink lemon water is a highly debated topic.

Some sources claim that drinking cold water helps burn extra calories. Others believe that warm water helps improve digestive health.

There is very little research to support either side, and it is unlikely that the temperature makes any meaningful difference. A person can simply choose the temperature that they prefer.

How to make lemon water

It is easy to make lemon water at home if someone wants to include it in their diet. People can use the following steps to make lemon water:

  1. Pour a glass of water.
  2. Juice either half a lemon or a whole lemon.
  3. Mix the lemon juice with the water.
  4. Add any additional ingredients, such as mint leaves, honey, or turmeric, or drink plain.

People can tweak the amount of lemon they add or the temperature of the water based on preferences.

Final Thought

Lemon water is a healthful drink that can help someone stay hydrated and get their necessary daily amount of vitamin C. However, scientific evidence does not support every claim about lemon water’s benefits.

If someone already eats lots of fruits and vegetables and drinks plenty of fluids, lemon is unlikely to add significant nutritional benefits. That said, it is a refreshing and healthful alternative to many other flavored drinks.

People can make lemon water at home by juicing a lemon and adding it to water. They can also add additional ingredients to make it more palatable, such as honey or mint.

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About the Author: Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN

Registered dietitian Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN.Sasha’s advice for easy, nutritious meals is to keep staple items that are shelf stable in your pantry and to practice having half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of protein, and a quarter of complex carbohydrates. She advises not to shy away from bagged, canned, or frozen foods, as they can still offer just as many nutrients!

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