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The benefits and myths of lemon water

Lemon water, one of the latest health trends, has people swearing by the benefits of a simple fruit and water mixture. There are even diets based entirely on lemons, but does it live up to the hype?

Drinking lemon water in the morning is believed to promote digestion, help weight loss, balance the body’s pH levels and “detoxify from the inside out”, while also brightening the skin and boosting your immune system.

This is the nutrient breakdown for one glass of lemon water (water with juice from half a lemon):

  • Calories: 9.
  • Sugars: Less than 1 gram.
  • Vitamin C: 25% of the RDI.
  • Folate: 1% of the RDI.
  • Potassium: 1% of the RDI.

Lemon water is a low-calorie and low-sugar beverage, even though it doesn’t provide a lot of nutrients, another fruit, say a half an orange, would have double the calories and sugar in your drink. Lemon water is high in vitamin C, comparative to its calorie and sugar content and contains trace amounts of folate and potassium.

It does carry a range of benefits such as compounds that may protect your cells and improve metabolic health; it also boosts metabolism slightly, which can help with weight loss. It improves your athletic performance and helps relive constipation. Lemon water also optimizes your mood and memory. However, most of the benefits that come with drinking lemon water, has to do with the water instead of the lemon properties.

Registered dietician, Wesley Delbridge, a spokesman for the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, confirmed that “the water part of lemon water is to thank for most of the science-backed benefits of lemon water.”

Sipping any kind of water (hot, cold, flavoured or plain, will do the trick), says Delbridge, lemon water isn’t magic.

While lemon water may not be magic, lemons do have benefits on its own. They have an amazing range of beauty benefits. It can work as a clarifying moisturizer, blackhead treatment, teeth whitener, skin brightener, lip exfoliator and hair lightener.

It’s recommended that women drink lemon water in cycle with their iron supplement, as women are prone to iron deficiency because we lose blood during menstruation, leading to fatigue, brittle nails, and even shortness of breath.

However, drinking lemon water, especially in large amounts, can actually cause a burning sensation in your stomach, and can worsen the symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn; it can also weaken tooth enamel and irritate the gums, Delbridge says. It’s recommended that you drink it through a straw.

While lemon water has health benefits, it may not be the miracle juice it’s made out to be, here are the truths and myths behind lemon water:

MTYH: It speeds up your metabolism

MYTH: Boosts your liver function

MYTH: Balances your PH level

TRUTH: Hydrates you

TRUTH: Boosts your Vitamin C level

TRUTH: Is a healthy substitute for juice

The ideal times to drink lemon water would be at 7am (first thing in the morning), 11am when you’re feeling hungry, post work-out at 5pm, and 8pm.

Benefits aside, it’s a flavourful alternative to plain water.

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