Why Warm Lemon Water Is Bad for You

Why Warm Lemon Water Is Bad for You. This year’s ultimate health goal has been drinking warm lemon water in the morning on an empty stomach. Supposedly, warm lemon water is good for many things, from improving digestion and stomach health to perfecting skin appearance, clearing the body of toxins, alkalizing the blood, curing respiratory infections and several other surprising benefits. But is drinking lemon water that good for us? Actually, the properties of lemon and lemon juice in particular produce some unexpected, less beneficial health effects that may negatively impact various aspects of our health.

What causes regular consumption of warm lemon water to be bad for us is the acidity of the fruit. Acidic fruits such as lemons are not recommended for people with stomach problems, sensitive teeth or for people who believe that eating a certain food will reverse a lifetime of bad dietary habits, counteract harmful lifestyle habits such as smoking or alcohol consumption or improve their health to such an extent that they don’t have to pay attention to any other aspect of it from that point on.

warm lemon water side effects

In order to understand why it might not be wise to start drinking warm lemon water in the morning we should first know the supposed health benefits of this practice. The supposed benefits warm lemon water are:

1) Improves digestion and is good for the stomach.
2) Relieves constipation.
3) Boosts immunity.
4) Controls high blood pressure.
5) Helps with weight loss and controls hunger cravings.
6) Helps treat respiratory diseases and infections.
7) Detoxifies the liver, cleanses the blood of toxins, alkalizes the blood.
8) Great for oral hygiene.
9) Improves skin appearance.
10) Good for rheumatism.

Why is warm lemon water bad for you? Here are 10 reasons that explain how drinking warm lemon water on an empty stomach in the morning can do more harm than good and not deliver the promised health benefits:

1) Bad for stomach health. Lemon juice is acidic in nature, so drinking warm (room temperature or cold) lemon water on an empty stomach irritates the stomach lining. Moreover, lemon juice worsens existing gastritis, acid reflux and stomach ulcers which is why people with stomach problems are recommended to avoid citrus fruit, lemons and limes in particular. In addition to this, the lemon in lemon water and the warm temperature of the water do little for digestion. Drinking water is necessary to remain well-hydrated, stay alive and keep healthy and sometimes wash down foods that are too dry or too rich in protein.

warm lemon water

2) Not that great for constipationRelieving constipation is more about addressing the factors that cause it such as a low fiber intake, not drinking enough liquids, eating too little fats (for fear of gaining weight mostly), sedentarism, prolonged use of antibiotics (they destroy good stomach bacteria that help with breaking down food and normal transit) etc. While a glass of water in the morning does contribute to keeping us hydrated by adding to our intake of liquids, it’s not going to make any difference for our constipation issues if don’t continue to stay hydrated throughout the day, eat sufficient fiber, keep active, include healthy fats in our diet etc. The fact that we drink liquids on an empty stomach somewhat puts things into motion and helps us go to the bathroom simply because we are upping our liquid intake.

And lemons aren’t rich in fiber so they can help us deal with constipation. We would be better off with prunes, almonds or kiwifruit and a glass of water in the morning. And regarding the argument that lemons contain pectin (a type of dietary fiber that binds jams and helps with constipation and diarrhea): lemons (and other citrus fruit), although rich in pectin, contain most of it in the rind, which you don’t consume except for in jams or baked goods, making them even less suitable for treating constipation. Apples, strawberries, cherries, grapes, apricots etc. are better choices in this respect because you can actually eat their pectin-rich skin.

3) Doesn’t boost immunity by itself. The reason why lemons are recommended for a strong immune system is because they contain vitamin C, a vital nutrient for good immunity. However, adding a slice or two of lemon or the juice from half a lemon to a glass of water provides us with very little vitamin C, especially considering that emerging research shows that vitamin C produces visible health benefits starting from a daily dose of at least 500 mg.

Compare this to:
(90 mg) the current recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
(38.7 mg) the amount of vitamin C in 100 g of freshly squeezed lemon juice.
(18.6 mg) the amount of vitamin C in a 48 g lemon (the estimated weight of a fruit).

4) Doesn’t affect blood pressure. Drinking warm lemon water in the morning doesn’t lower high blood pressure. Hypertension is caused by a high intake of sodium (eating too salty), a low intake of potassium (which helps eliminate excess sodium and balance blood pressure), cholesterol buildup on artery walls (narrowing of the arteries restricts blood flow) etc. Lowering our sodium and raising our potassium intake as well as increasing our magnesium intake (for the good functioning of the heart muscle) can treat high blood pressure in a matter of weeks or months, not warm lemon water. On average, an adult body needs about 4,700 mg of potassium daily and lemons contain about 103 mg/100 g of juice (and 49 mg/ 48 g of juice).

5) Warm lemon water and weight loss. Healthy weight loss is a complex process that relies primarly on having overall healthy eating habits. Incorporating lemon water in our diet is not going to do much for us because losing weight is not dependant on one single food. It’s a process that involves eating less calories, eliminating processed foods completely, reducing alcohol intake, fat intake etc. But if it gives us the confidence to eat healthier for the rest of the day, then why not?

As for the cravings and hunger, there is nothing satiating about lemon water. It’s just filling up on flavored water to deceive hunger. What this does is starve the body and deny it vital nutrients it needs to keep us alive, to keep us healthy and help us maintain a good weight and a positive mindset. Eating the right foods is the best weight loss diet with the most beautiful long term results at a both physical and emotional level.

6) Warm lemon water and respiratory infections. The reason why lemon water is said to help treat throat and other respiratory tract infections is because it contains vitamin C, an extremely powerful antibacterial and anti-inflammatory agent. However, lemons contain very little vitamin C compared to the amounts needed to constitute an actual protective intake against infections of any sort. As mentioned above, research now suggests that intakes far higher than the current RDA of around 90 mg of vitamin C are needed to obtain visible health effects. So adding 2 or 3 slices of lemon in a glass of water doesn’t make such a great difference for our health.

7) Warm lemon water and the liver. The liver’s function is to do exactly this: process things and eliminate toxins, thus cleansing the blood of them. Drinking lemon water won’t have it perform any better, but clean eating, healthy living will. So if we’re trying to help our liver, then we should enjoy a balanced, varied diet, no processed foods, no alcohol or sugary beverages, fizzy or not, no smoking, less pollution, resting sufficiently etc. The good thing about lemons is that they are alkaline, meaning they can influence our blood pH positively (research suggests a more alkaline blood pH can lower the risk of chronic disease).

However, we can only achieve a more alkaline blood pH only if we eat mostly alkaline foods, not just drink a glass of lemon water in the morning because this alone will have very little impact on our overall health. At the same time, drinking the water in which we have soaked lemon rind might not be the healthiest option because it is likely contaminated with dangerous pesticides.

8) Damages teeth. Lemon juice is highly acidic and constant exposure of teeth to acidic foods will sensitize them, leading to pain and discomfort. This is caused by the acidity of lemon juice which wears down tooth enamel and leads to sensitivity. Drinking it using a straw might help limit damage. Other problematic foods include other citrus fruit, tomatoes, certain herbal teas, but also hot and cold foods and beverages, sweet and sour ones. In some cases, eating a slice of lemon can help with bad breath. Unfortunately, it won’t cover the smell of pungent foods completely (garlic odour, for example) or treat bad breath that originates in stomach problems.

9) Skin care. Drinking warm lemon water does not have a major impact on skin appearance. Drinking plenty of water does because it helpes hydrate the skin and offers it a more youthful, plump, rested appearance. Lemon juice is best used topically, mixed with various other foods such as honey and yogurt for skin care.

10) Warm lemon water and rheumatism. There really isn’t a known mechanism that can confirm the beneficial effects of lemon water on rheumatism. High amounts of vitamin C can help reduce inflammation and improve pain, but the amounts in a daily glass of water with a few slices of lemon are nowhere near producing visible effects.

Conclusion. Overall, warm lemon water is not an unhealthy habit per se. It’s just that it’s not healthy either. In fact, its supposed health benefits proclaimed in most health and wellness articles are either untrue or grossly magnified. Moreover, while it doesn’t pose any health risks for the majority of people, anyone suffering from stomach ulcers, gastritis, acid reflux or other gastrointestinal conditions and teeth sensitivity benefits more from not drinking lemon water at all. Just water will be fine.

8 thoughts on “Why Warm Lemon Water Is Bad for You

  1. This is the most ignorant, misinformed article I have ever read about lemons and lemon water. To be clear, while lemons are acidic, they are absorbed by the body as alkaline and do not create an acidic environment in your gut or anywhere else.

    • Hello there. I agree with you: lemons leave an alkaline trace in the body and are thus alkaline-forming foods from the point of view of the alkaline diet. But they do contain citric acid which gives them their acidic taste, hence the reason they are called acidic. All citrus fruit contain citric acid naturally and it’s this citric acid that is not so good for gastritis, acid reflux or tooth enamel. It’s because of citric acid that a variety of acidless oranges has been developed so that people suffering from digestive disorders can enjoy citrus fruit too.

      Please remember that the alkaline diet differentiates between the pH of foods before digestion and the pH of foods after digestion and recommends eating for the most part foods that have an alkaline pH after digestion, lemons included. But lemons do have citric acid which is acidic in nature and causes problems before and during digestion for people with a certain sensitivity and disorders such as gastritis or acid reflux, myself included. So to be clear, I believe you have made a confusion here and I hope that in the future you keep to a more civilized language and speak your mind more politely because there are still people out there that do their research before they speak.

    • You are 100% right. I think the writer of this article has an agenda, he’s probably pals with bigpharma, keep everyone sick so they make money from us

    • Hello, Sandy! Do you have any valid arguments to support this accusation? Or is this what you say to everyone who has a different opinion from yours? I would be happy to listen to your take on the warm lemon water issue, why you think it’s so good, so show me you actually understand what is being discussed here and come up with sensible arguments. Because, up until now, I haven’t heard of lemon water curing cancer or malaria or immune diseases. It’s also available for everyone, if they choose to drink it. Where is the conspiracy then?

  2. u guys in west have no idea about balance. either u think something is very good or something to be very bad,.even snake venom taken in the right quantity is elixir and elixir taken in appropriate quantity will take u to death. suitabilty is everything. somepeople might find lemon juice very helpful but others may not.
    any article should be balanced. should give tips on using it safely. the article doesnt do so. look at the heading why warm lemon water is bad for you. hopeless article.

    • Hello, Mr. Ganesh. Not every elixir is good for you. Maybe it doesn’t kill you, but that doesn’t mean it has benefits either. With this in mind, the purpose of this article is to discuss why drinking warm lemon water in the morning is actually not good for you so, naturally, I wrote down the arguments why it is not good for you. But it is a balanced article because I also included the presupposed benefits of lemon water. Please read it again more carefully to see the benefits listed.

      As for the tips, the article does offer advice on better alternatives to lemon water because, truth is, it does not help with much. It may be refreshing to drink and healthy because it’s water and a fruit, but a few slices of lemon in a glass of water will not magically detoxify your whole body, make you healthy all of a sudden despite not living or eating right and it won’t cure any disease on its own. This is because our body needs balance: a balanced diet, a balanced lifestyle and a balanced view on health and wellness.

      If you read the article again, you will notice how I break down the argument so everybody can understand why it’s bad. For example, everybody says lemon water boosts immunity. In reality, it’s vitamin C that helps the immune system and lemons contain very little of it. As emerging research suggests, vitamin C has visible health benefits from 500 mg a day, not the amounts in a few slices you add to your water. Every argument is broken down and explained so that people actually understand what drinking lemon water does to you.

      The point is, even if lemon water may contribute, and I stress may, to improving certain aspects of our health, it still has side effects for almost anyone. You can drink as much or as little lemon water as you want, in as many ways as possible, long-term use will still make your teeth sensitive and destroy tooth enamel because that’s what the compounds in lemon do. Similarly, it is not an elixir that will magically detoxify the body or help you lose weight because you need a balanced diet and lifestyle for this. If you don’t eat and live right as a whole, lemon water will not remedy all the excesses in your life. It may be a start to healthier habits, but nothing more.

      And regarding your statement that the article is hopeless, I actually believe with all my heart that it will help a lot of people better their lives and health. I am one of those people that have suffered from gastritis and acid reflux all my life and I lead a quiet, healthy life and eat right, balanced and varied. But I have come to realize that even the healthiest foods can be bad for you. And lemon water or any other citrus fruits with or without water can worsen both gastritis and acid reflux incredibly. Citrus fruit naturally contain citric acid which irritates the stomach lining, hence the reason it is not good for people with such digestive problems. I have suffered all my life from not knowing that not every food is good for everyone and I feel strongly that sharing my experience can help others that have been dealing with similar problems too. Because there are so many people that don’t find lemon juice or lemon water helpful. I am writting for them too.

      So, yes, we need balance, but drinking or eating something that is both good and bad for us is not balance. Yes, some people may find lemon juice and water helpful, but that doesn’t exclude the fact there are side effects either. When you come here to read something, know that the articles are for everyone and never follow healthy trends just because they are trends. Benefits and side effects are explained so that everyone has access to a critical point of view that weighs on the advantages and disadvantages of what we eat, drink and do to improve our health in some way. Even if our opinions are different, we both have the right to speak freely and can respect each other despite not agreeing on the same things. The important thing is that we are both free to do whatever we think is best for ourselves and share our experiences so that others too may learn from them.

  3. I can tell you from personal experience, lemon juice and water makes my eyes itch and dry out very bad. It will flush me out, but my eyes itching and blurry really sucks. I drink a lot of water too. My skin will itch as well from lemons. No thanks.

    • There is a reason our body reacts the way it does to certain foods and I’ve learnt from experience that it’s best to trust your body when it’s telling you something isn’t good for you. A food may be wonderful for others, but just not that good for you and this is okay. It doesn’t mean we should keep trying to eat something is we notice it’s not good for us, but instead move on to something that is actually beneficial for us. Thank you for sharing your experience, Karuna. Wishing you lots of health.

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