Post by Emily White
Whether you are interested in nutrition or not you would have most likely heard about having a glass of lemon in warm water to start your day.
This lemon drink is often taken first thing in the morning in place of tea or coffee and has fast become a fashionably healthy lifestyle choice, right up there with raw cheesecakes and green smoothies. So is this a healthy way to start your day backed by scienced or just a silly celebrity fad?
First things first, aside from anything, drinking water, especially warm water, first thing in the morning is important for rehydration. Overnight you have gone 8 hours without water and if the body uses approximately 100ml of water per hour it is possible that you could have lost over a litre between your last drink and waking up. So take the lemon aside, getting into the habit of drinking first thing upon waking has got to be a good thing!!
Secondly lemon juice (and apple cider vinegar for that matter) have both been used for thousands of years to promote digestion and detoxification. There is evidence that lemon juice can help to stimulate proper stomach acid and bile production which would mean improved digestion throughout the day.
Lemon juice is also very alkaline promoting. This may seem unusual as lemon juice is acidic but it does in fact create an alkaline environment in the body. Recent research has deemed that an alkaline promoting diet could be very beneficial for cardiovascular health such as reducing insulin resistance (1) and hypertension (2).
One study in particular looked at D-limonene a compound in lemon peel and found interesting findings. According to these researchers this compound was found to upregulate Glutathione transferase in the liver (3). This is an enzyme which is important in the detoxfication process. This is very important as it shows the importance of using the whole lemon and ensuring you include the rind in your drink and not just the juice.
It is always important to do your best to source organic lemons but this is more so if you are also using the rind as that is what comes into contact the most with pesticides.
Lemon juice is also a rich source of vitamin C which can protect against various diseases (4, 5) and increase the absorption of iron (6).
Lemons are however quite acidic so therefore many be harmful for dental health. Thereby it is recommended not to over do it! Just have lemon in one glass a day in the morning- do not constantly sip on it all day. Also swishing fresh water around your mouth when you have finished your drink can help to neutralise the acid. If you are super worried about it you can drink it through a straw. Despite its many benefits, I have often heard this technique being used as a way to stimulate weight loss. Whilst it can definitely contribute to general health there is currently no evidence that it will substantially impact weight loss so be weary of extreme health claims! Whilst it is not going to be your miracle cure, there is sufficient evidence to suggest good benefit from starting your day with warm water and lemon!
1. McCarty MF. Acid-base balance may influence risk for insulin resistance syndrome by modulating cortisol output. Medical Hypotheses.64(2):380-4.
2. Adeva MM, Souto G. Diet-induced metabolic acidosis. Clinical Nutrition.30(4):416-21.
3. Chaudhary S, Siddiqui M, Athar M, Alam MS. d-Limonene modulates inflammation, oxidative stress and Ras-ERK pathway to inhibit murine skin tumorigenesis. Human & Experimental Toxicology. 2012;31(8):798-811.
4. Kim J, Jayaprakasha GK, Patil BS. Limonoids and their anti-proliferative and anti-aromatase properties in human breast cancer cells. Food Funct. 2013;4(2):258-65.
5. Meiyanto E, Hermawan A, Anindyajati. Natural products for cancer-targeted therapy: citrus flavonoids as potent chemopreventive agents. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2012;13(2):427-36.
6. Peneau S, Dauchet L, Vergnaud AC, Estaquio C, Kesse-Guyot E, Bertrais S, et al. Relationship between iron status and dietary fruit and vegetables based on their vitamin C and fiber content. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008;87(5):1298-305.