By SHAPE magazine | Healthy Living
by Mike Roussell, ph.D., and SHAPE Diet Doctor for SHAPE.com
You've no doubt heard countless people and experts suggest that you begin your day with a big glass of lemon water. But why? How beneficial is it for you really?
Like most health and fitness lore, the magic properties of drinking a juiced lemon in warm water each morning is rooted in a seed of truth, but the impact of the ritual is greatly overstated. Let's look at the three main purported benefits and any evidence to support those claims.
1. Lemon improves digestion. Actually in some cases the fruit could exacerbate issues with your stomach: Citric acid in lemons can cause or contribute to stomach pains and cramps. So where does the idea that drinking lemon juice improves digestion come from? There is a study from about three decades ago that shows citric acid can improve absorption of aluminum hydroxide (the active ingredient in most antacids). I have read online that the acidic nature of lemon juice is supposed to support an optimal acidic environment in your stomach, but this is complete speculation and, as pointed out earlier, in certain individuals could have the opposite effect.
2. Lemon juice boosts mineral absorption. The vitamin C found in lemon juice has been shown to enhance mineral absorption, but you don't need warm lemon juice to get this effect. Vitamin C is one of the most ubiquitous vitamins in fruits and vegetables. We often think of citrus fruits as being the major or even only source of C, but non-yellow and orange fruits and vegetables such as bell peppers, kale, strawberries, broccoli, and spinach all contain robust amounts of vitamin C. As long as you are having a fruit or vegetable with your morning meal, then you can expect to reap the enhanced absorption of minerals at that meal.
3. Lemon detoxes. One of the biggest health hypes about lemons and lemon juice is that they help detoxify your body. I recommend that you get very skeptical about any food or supplement claim regarding detoxification. It is such a general term that it is almost useless. The human body is so complex, what is getting detoxified? What are the toxins being removed? Where are they going? ...more