Some proponents of lemon water claim that it aids digestion, detoxifies the liver, erases age spots, speeds up your metabolism, helps with depression and anxiety, relieves heartburn, wards off cancer, and reduces inflammation. I was skeptical that it could do all those things, but I figured if it does even a few it would be pretty great.
I’ve had lemon water here and there over the years, of course, but I decided to drink two cups a day for two weeks to see if it would have any noticeable impact. Here’s what I learned.
Health-conscious friends of mine are always claiming that lemon water—especially warm or hot lemon water—can help with digestion and cut down on bloat. And experts do say that the citric acid in lemons can supplement your natural stomach acids to help you break down food. I also learned that lemon water is a surprisingly decent source of potassium, a mineral that helps keep sodium levels in check. (Not that I was drinking it straight, but half a cup of lemon juice has about 125 mg of potassium compared to about 211 mg in a banana.) So maybe it would also combat salt-related fluid retention? At first I wasn’t sure if my lemon water habit was doing anything, but after a few days I noticed I was less bloated.
Citrus fruits like lemons are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that research suggests may help ward off colds and reduce inflammation throughout the body. You would probably have to drink a lot of lemon water for a long period of time to really notice a difference in inflammation, and it’s tough to gauge the impact of lemon water on your immune system over a short period of time. That said, I didn’t get sick during my two-week experiment. (If you’re looking to boost your vitamin C intake, add this immune-boosting smoothie from Prevention Premium to your daily meal plan.)
A study in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition found that polyphenols in lemon peel prevented mice from putting on extra fat during a 12-week period. In two weeks I lost a single pound, which may or may not have been due to the lemon water. In my case, I suspect it mostly helped with motivation. After starting my day with something as healthy as lemon water, I felt more inclined to stick with workouts, eat clean foods, and pass on caloric drinks like orange juice and soda.
In addition to all of the physical benefits, lemon water has been touted as a balm for lifting your spirits—a claim that brought out my inner skeptic. If lemon water could truly pull you out of a funk, they would bottle it and sell it for about 200 times the price. That said, maybe it was the pound I lost or just the confidence that came from sticking to a health-focused plan for two weeks, but I did feel, mentally, just a little bit lighter.
As for my internal organs, it’s a bit of a mystery. I have no way to gauge whether or not my liver was “detoxified” or my digestive system really improved. But here’s hoping that any change it had on my body was a positive one.