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What Are the Benefits — or Risks — of Drinking Lemon Water?

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Lemon water for your health: Yay or nay?

It seems like there is a new health craze every week that promises to be the perfect solution for all your health woes. One recent trend is lemon water. What is lemon water, you may ask? Good news, guys. It's a recipe anyone can do: Juice from lemons added to water. That's it. No cooking, no herbs, no spices. So why is it purported to be a boost to your health? How can something so simple have a positive impact on your health? Let's take a look.

Lemon water benefits

We chatted with Dr. Luiza Petre, a board-certified cardiologist and weight-management specialist who has a private practice in New York City. In 2014, she expanded her practice to include integrative health and wellness and has a lot of experience in nutrition and how it relates to our health.

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She notes that lemon water is packed with vitamin C (an antioxidant) as well as other vital nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, folate and thiamin. In addition, there are other components in lemon water that are terrifically good for you.

According to Petre, lemon water can:

  • Strengthen your immune system with all that vitamin C
  • Boost your mood because it smells terrific
  • Reduce your chances of age-related vision loss, again due to vitamin C
  • Increase your potassium intake, which is good for your heart
  • Neutralize free radicals thanks to that nifty antioxidant, vitamin C (free radicals can damage tissue and lead to cancer or heart disease)
  • Cut down on urinary tract infections due to increased fluids and fresh citrus juices
  • Improve liver function because vitamin C helps with the detoxification process
  • Increase hydration, which can help prevent some types of cancers and heart disease
  • Improve weight-loss efforts as it helps you avoid sugary drinks and provide a distraction from snacking
  • Improve skin appearance due to adequate hydration

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Lemon water risks

There are some potential risks of lemon water consumption, but not for the light or casual sipper, even if you have some every morning. It really boils down to moderation, says Petre — she says these negative effects can be avoided by not overindulging.

Risks include:

  • Tooth enamel erosion — tooth enamel has a pH of 5.5 and anything under 4 can potentially cause erosion, including lemon water, which has a pH of 2
  • Cavities, which can be caused by the natural fruit sugar in the lemons
  • Heartburn, ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease and canker sores can be aggravated by lemon water due to the acidic lemon juice
  • Nausea and vomiting due to excess vitamin C (we're talking two lemons or three cups of diluted lemon juice)
  • Too much iron, as vitamin C aids iron absorption, which can lead to excessive iron levels in the blood and possible organ damage
  • Frequent urination, not only due to the fluids, but lemon is a natural diuretic

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If you're worried about overdoing your lemon-water drinking, Petre suggests that you use a straw and rinse well after you've finished your cup.

"The benefits obviously far outweigh the negatives," she explains. "Lemon water deserves the hype. So sip daily and reap your rewards!"

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