Health fads go in and out of fashion faster than you can blink. Some are helpful and stick around; others are flashes in the pan that are flashes in the pan. There’s a lot of buzz around drinking lemon water at the moment. It’s been in and out of vogue since 2012. People like Gwyneth Paltrow and Naomi Cambell praise it. It’s just water with lemon in it. But people claim it’s a health elixir. Is there any truth in it?
“Many are claiming it promotes weight loss, improves skin, helps with digestion and balances the body’s pH levels,” said registered dietitian April Wiles. “Some claims related to lemon water are evidence-based — while others are not.”
Many of the claims spring from the fact that lemons are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and is especially useful during cold and flu season. However, the amount you will consume through water infused with lemon juice won’t be enough to boost your health.
Social media influencers have been taking the trend further by blending the lemon skin into water and drinking that. That’s unhealthy as the peel contains naturally occurring pesticides that the fruit makes to protect itself. The compounds can lead to inflammation and kidney problems.
Even without the skin, drinking a lot of lemon water can be problematic for tooth enamel as it is so acidic. It can also be harmful to people with acid reflux.
People make big claims about how it helps and give detailed instructions about how it should be consumed. Very little of it is scientifically backed. For instance, it doesn’t “wake up your digestive system” if you drink it on an empty stomach in the morning. It doesn’t boost weight loss. And it certainly doesn’t fight cancer.
It can help if you struggle with drinking enough during the day. Many of us forget to drink if a beverage isn’t tasty. If you have sworn off sweet drinks and no longer drink as many fluids as you should, lemon water can help you stay hydrated. But so can ginger water, mint water, cucumber water or fruit water. Mix up your flavors for more options and less worries about tooth enamel.
“I recommend switching the fruits, herbs or roots you use to flavor your water — and don’t just program one healthy habit indefinitely,” said registered dietitian nutritionist Rachael Richardson.
The hype around lemon water is just that — hype. It’s a great way to add a drink to your day with no sugar and essentially no calories. But, there are no proven medical benefits to the drink.