I have always associated lemons with Kate Moss, strangely. Not lemons-lemons, but the hot water with lemon juice thing. Jennifer Aniston famously does it, Beyonce apparently does it too, and Gwyneth, and Mischa Barton (Mischa who?).
And my mom. Which takes us back to Kate Moss – to get me to drink it in the morning, my mom always used to rationalize that if Kate Moss did it, you couldn’t go too wrong by trying it too… I’ve recently wanted to revisit the old wisdom, and have taken to having one glass of lemon juice with hot water every morning (most mornings my delightful man presses the lemons for me, which gives me no excuse, really). This has become a little ritual which I would find it hard to do without.
But how effective are lemons, really? Very much, it turns out.
Lemons (Citrus Limon) contain many nutrients, including vitamin C (an important antioxydant), vitamins B-1, B-6 and riboflavin, the vitamin which gives the yellow-orange color to vitamin B supplements and preparations. B-vitamins play important roles in cell metabolism. Lemons also contain minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium.
Many health benefits
As zest, simple juice or notoriously combined with hot water, lemons provide multiple health benefits due to their detoxifying and anti-bacterial properties.
Digestion: The most recognized benefit of lemons and hot water is that it helps digestion, helping to eliminate waste within the body. Poor digestion cause a build-up of toxins in your body, leaving you feeling tired and potentially depressed. Lemons’ cleansing properties help the digestive tract fight sexy conditions such as indigestion, constipation or diarrhea by stimulating stomach juices. Lemons with hot water also help relieve nausea, including morning sickness for pregnant women.
Diuretic: Lemons generally tend to make you want to urinate more, which helps purify the body. Toxins are released at a faster rate, which helps keep the urinary tract healthy.
Weight loss: Allowing food to be properly digested has one key perk (which is probably the main reason we hear of the hot lemon water a lot in the media): it helps losing weight faster. Poor digestion stops your body from getting the nutrients it needs to burn fat. The build-up of toxins slows down the metabolism, making losing weight much more difficult. Furthermore, if your body is not absorbing the right nutrients, it will “deduce” that it is malnourished and it will constantly crave nutrients, making you feel like you’re hungry when you’re not. No matter how thin or overweight you are. Cleansing the body means flushing out the toxins which impair digestion (including the unnatural products contained in processed foods), which in turn aids weight loss.
Interestingly, most diets tend to exacerbate poor digestion and the build-up of toxins in the digestive system – including the famous Atkins diet, which certainly works short-term in terms of shedding pounds, but which I am not a big believer in from a long-term health perspective. Or, for that matter, any diet which does not focus on balancing your daily food intake but advocates ingesting one type of food only (like the Maple Syrup Diet, despite the absurd recipe containing lemon juice!), or totally eradicating certain products from your life. Only when the body has been detoxified and cleansed, and the digestive system’s functioning restored, can the long-term weight loss process start.
One further benefit of lemons (only if you use the skin in your juice, or in food in general though) is that they are high in pectin fiber, which helps fight hunger cravings.
Younger-looking skin: Drinking lemon with hot water should improve the look of your skin, clearing wrinkles and blackheads. This is mainly due to the previously mentioned vitamin C contained in lemons in high doses, which rejuvenates the skin from within your body.
Immune system: Again, lemon juice is one of the most concentrated food sources of vitamin C, and vitamin C is key to help the immune system fight winter coughs, colds chest infections and flus. More generally in terms of respiratory problems, hot lemon water is thought to be helpful to people with asthma and allergies too.
Lemons are also high in potassium, which stimulates brain and nerve function, as well as helps control blood pressure.
Neuralgias: Sluggish digestion can cause pain behind the eyes (neuralgia). Fresh lemon juice or slices of lemons applied directly to the affected areas can help relieve headaches.
Energy: One last clear benefit of lemons is energy. When the positively charged ions from food enter the digestive tract and interact with the negatively charged enzymes, a chemical reaction occurs – most often resulting in energy consumption, which is why digesting is such a tiresome activity! Lemon is one of the few foods that contain more negatively charged ions, providing your body with more energy when it enters the digestive tract. The high vitamin C also helps relieving stress and tiredness.
In order to benefit the most from lemons and hot water, you should take it twice daily, apparently – preferably in the morning. One is already good enough I think – hope!- and in all fairness, it soon becomes a habit, almost as automatic as putting the kettle on or pressing the button on the Nespresso machine. I certainly feel better since I have started drinking hot lemon water regularly, particularly on glorious slightly hungover mornings…
- Lemon can keep for 8 to 10 days at room temperature (longer in the fridge; they can also be frozen without losing potency and will keep c. 6 months)
- Once cut, a lemon will keep fresh for longer if you brush the cut side with vinegar (the acid helps preserve it)
- Choose unwaxed lemons if using the zest. Wax can be removed by using a brush and really scrubbing, but generally speaking keep to unwaxed or better yet – organic!
- Small lemons with thin peel tend to give more juice than larger ones with thicker peel
The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal Manual, by David Hoffman
Medicinal Herbs, by Penelope Ody