A Forensic Analysis of the Benefits of Lemon Water

Have you ever wondered whether or not the glowing health claims about lemon water are true?

We sure did (as we sip on the enjoyable drink).

In this episode of That’s Healthy, Right? host Adam Bornstein examines the science behind the 3 biggest claims to understand:

Does lemon water improve digestion?

Can lemon water improve mineral absorption?

All “detox” negativity aside: how much lemon water does it take to have any benefit? 

Teaser: it definitely is not a weight loss aid. But, the other benefits were worthy of extra digging, and a few surprising takeaways.

Have a question you want to be considered for the show? To submit a question, email a voice recording that you can do here to info@bornfitness.com.

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The Body Cleanse: Does Juicing Really Work? — Born Fitness

Lemon Water: Is it Good for You?  — Examine.com 

8 common myths about the benefits of drinking lemon water – Insider.com

D-Limonene: safety and clinical applications — Alternative Medicine Review

Effects and Usage of a Citrus Compound, Limonene — Polyphenols: Prevention and Treatment of Human Disease (Second Edition)

Gastrointestinal Transit Time, Glucose Homeostasis and Metabolic Health: Modulation by Dietary Fibers — Nutrients 

The alkaline diet: is there evidence that an alkaline pH diet benefits health? — Nutrients


Adam Bornstein: Could it be that after all these years, people got a very popular saying all wrong. Is it actually that a lemon a day keeps the doctor away?

It was something I wanted to investigate because of the explosion of the belief that a little bit of lemon water, so a slice of lemon or two in your water every single morning, can actually boost your health.

There’s a lot of claims out there that suggest the lemon water will improve digestion, boost your mineral absorption, and even detoxify your body. So much so that despite enjoying lemon water, I had to figure out is this the truth, and what I came to find out is the most of the claims actually, or the reality, is the opposite of what someone would suggest.

So let’s just start with the idea of digestion itself, that lemon is going to calm and ease it.

It might be that some of this belief came from a study that was published about three decades ago. So about 30 years ago, it showed that a little bit of citric acid can improve the absorption of aluminum hydroxide, which is the active ingredient in most antacids.

But the problem is that the study itself was based on speculation, and it’s possible that citric acid in lemons can actually create more stomach pains and cramps rather than reduce it. It doesn’t mean that it will happen.

Trust me, I enjoy a little bit of lemon in my water, and I don’t have any of those issues. But there’s a higher likelihood that it could be more disruptive than it would be healing, so no real research behind that.

About mineral absorption, well that’s based on the idea of vitamin C and the idea that vitamin C can help with mineral absorption. But it’s not necessary nor is the amount of vitamin C that you’re going to get out of a slice of lemon really enough to enhance mineral absorption that much.

Not to mention most foods these days are pretty high in vitamin C, fruits, vegetables, and even a lot of other manufactured or processed foods are fortified with vitamin C, so it’s a vitamin that you don’t need to necessarily supplement with.

And then the last idea is that of a detox, and in general, I’m not a fan of detox, but I was curious to see if there’s anything here. And there is an antioxidant in fruit that is really supposed to help activate the enzymes in your liver that are a part of the phase one and phase two of your natural detoxification processes because your liver and your kidneys do function as an internal detox system.

So is it possible that the lemon juice could improve that? And when you look at it, the amount that you would need of this ingredient based on research, you need about a minimum of 500 milligrams per day to get that boost of detox, and a leader of lemon juice has about a hundred milligrams of that compound.

So you would need to drink about five liters per day of lemon juice alone in order to get a potential benefit, which is safe to say even the biggest fans of lemon water are not going to drink that much.

So should you drink lemon water, or will it keep the doctor away? If you enjoy it, go for it. The health benefits though are definitely wildly overstated.