Lots of us give our mornings a kick-start with a mug or two or three of coffee every day—and that’s just to start the day. But there are better options that won’t leave you jittery from all that caffeine. Consider a tall glass of water with fresh lemon juice as a replacement for your coffee. Lemon water offers a good source of refreshment and hydration first thing in the morning as well as a host of other benefits.
Adequate hydration is essential to our bodies. We consist of approximately 60 percent water, so even just a dip of less than two percent can leave us dehydrated. This can easily occur from exercising, spending too much time in the heat, or simply failing to drink enough hydrating fluids. And even mild dehydration can contribute to low energy levels, headaches, dizziness, and cognitive difficulties.1Armstrong, Lawrence E.; et al. “Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women.” The Journal of Nutrition. 21 December 2011. Accessed 15 July 2016. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2011/12/20/jn.111.142000.abstract. So water is a great choice, and adding lemon only makes it better.
One of the things that makes lemon water ideal is that it aids in digestion. Whereas drinking plain water with meals dilutes your digestive juices, the citric acid in lemons interacts with digestive enzymes and helps increase the production of gastric juices. This breaks down food particles more fully and assists the intestines in the absorption of nutrients. By improving these digestive processes, the body also moves waste matter more efficiently through the system and keeps bowel movements regular.
Both the kidneys and liver recover more of their ability to function optimally as they can release greater quantities of the toxins they store. And drinking lemon water has been shown to dissolve painful kidney stones, gallstones, pancreatic stones, and calcium deposits. The juice raises citrate levels in the urine, which were found in a 1997 study at Kaiser Permanente Medical Care in Oakland, California to lower the risk of developing calcium stones.2Ettinger, Bruce; et al. “Potassium-Magnesium Citrate is an Effective Prophylaxis Against Recurrent Calcium Oxalate Nephrolithiasis.” The Journal of Urology. December 1997. Accessed 16 July 2016. http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347(01)68155-2/abstract?cc=y=.
In addition, even though lemons are acidic, your body treats them as an alkaline forming food, which means they assist in balancing an acidic pH of your body. The optimal pH for blood in the human body is approximately an alkaline state of 7.4, and lemons help us achieve this naturally. This is vital to maintaining good health and defending ourselves from illness, and our pH can often become unbalanced by a poor diet and stress.
Speaking of defending ourselves from illness, lemons are a great source of antioxidants, which are a known anti-inflammatory. Fresh lemon juice can diminish swelling throughout the body, and has been associated with a reduction in gingivitis. This is important not just for oral health, but because gum disease has been linked in studies with cardiovascular problems, Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory illness, and other ailments. The antioxidants confer some protection from an assortment of inflammation-related issues, including various forms of arthritis, by lessening painful swelling in the affected joints. And research has suggested that the liminoids in citrus fruits like lemons can help protect cells against free radical damage and lessen the risk of developing certain cancers.
Lemons are also rich in vitamin C, which bolsters the immune system and helps us fight off disease. And vitamin C is valuable for another reason as well; it enables our bodies to take in more of the nutrients we need. In fact, it improves our absorption of calcium, thereby aiding in the prevention of osteoporosis, as well as our absorption of iron. Iron deficiency can lead to anemia, a disorder that can result in organ damage and heart failure.
Stroke risk may be reduced through consumption of lemons and other forms of citrus. A 2012 study at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, United Kingdom showed that a greater intake of citrus fruits is associated with a 19 percent lower risk of ischemic stroke in women compared to their peers consuming the least amount of citrus.3Cassidy, Aedin; et al. “Dietary Flavonoids and Risk of Stroke in Women.” Stroke. 23 February 2012. Accessed 16 July 2016. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/43/4/946.
When exploring the multitude of ways lemons can benefit our physical health, we don’t want to forget the positive effects they may offer our mental health. Lemons have a high potassium level, which has been shown to reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety as well as improve both concentration and memory.
So head to the supermarket and buy yourself a big bag of organic lemons. Move your coffee mugs to the back of the cupboard and keep a nice pitcher front and center. Then squeeze a few of your lemons and mix the juice and water in the pitcher for a great, healthy drink to enjoy each morning—and throughout the day.
|↑1||Armstrong, Lawrence E.; et al. “Mild Dehydration Affects Mood in Healthy Young Women.” The Journal of Nutrition. 21 December 2011. Accessed 15 July 2016. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/early/2011/12/20/jn.111.142000.abstract.|
|↑2||Ettinger, Bruce; et al. “Potassium-Magnesium Citrate is an Effective Prophylaxis Against Recurrent Calcium Oxalate Nephrolithiasis.” The Journal of Urology. December 1997. Accessed 16 July 2016. http://www.jurology.com/article/S0022-5347(01)68155-2/abstract?cc=y=.|
|↑3||Cassidy, Aedin; et al. “Dietary Flavonoids and Risk of Stroke in Women.” Stroke. 23 February 2012. Accessed 16 July 2016. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/43/4/946.|