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 its supposed health benefits. And I call them ‘supposed’ because all the benefits falsely attributed to lemon water are in fact the result of other dietary and lifestyle habits as a single glass of water with two slices of lemon does not have the nutritional value required to generate visible changes in one’s health. Because vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are the basis of good health and we require them in rather high amounts every single day. A bit of lemon juice contains only negligible amounts of vitamins and minerals.

In any case, here are the supposed benefits warm lemon water:
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 or prolonged use of antibiotics which destroy good gut bacteria that help with breaking down food and normal transit. 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 constipation.

You actually have to continue to drink water 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, but there are limits to what a glass of water can do. Also, 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.

As for lemons containing pectin (a type of dietary fiber that binds jams and helps with constipation and diarrhea), know that lemons and other citrus fruit have pectin for the most part in their 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 primarily 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 dependent 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 helps 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. It’s just that it doesn’t produce measurable benefits 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.




18 Replies to “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.

  4. I tried drinking lemon for my goal to lose weight but it happens that I have stomach acidity (it runs in the family), so it made my stomach feel bad. And the worst part is it made me feel so hungry all the time. So I eat and eat and that has made me fatter than before. So I believed with the writer that there’s also side effects of drinking warm lemon water.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience with warm lemon water. It’s true that while lemon juice is alkalizing after digestion, its juice is acidic before and can cause or worsen existing stomach acidity. The hunger sensation you’ve experienced when drinking warm lemon water was caused by the lemon juice worsening a stomach condition, most likely gastritis. It’s known that gastritis causes a hunger sensation and because lemon juice accentuates stomach acidity, it also leads to feelings of hunger. I am confident you will find other healthy options that provide the benefits you are looking for in lemon water, but without the side effects. Wishing you lots of health.

  5. The article is biased since lemons are not compatible with the authors body. Plus I agree the title is very misleading.

    • Hello, Rashida. Many people suffer the side effects of warm lemon water, not just me. The fact that you feel it is good for you and others does not make it good for everyone. The fact that you enjoy the benefits of one food, does not mean that it can’t be bad for others. People are different and may have different medical conditions that prevent them from eating certain foods or doing certain activities. There is nothing to be upset about if others have a different opinion from yours or a different reaction to various foods. And the article does explain why warm lemon water is bad for you and how. What is written here is still true for so many people, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. Wishing you the best.

  6. Last year my husband had an issue with slightly elevated blood pressure, I juiced one lemon and added it to 1 cup of water, in less than 15 minutes his pressure dropped more than 20 points both systolic and dystolic. Just thought I’d share.

    • Hello, Thelma. It’s most likely the potassium content of lemons that has helped lower your husband’s blood pressure. There are 138 mg of potassium in 100 g of lemons and even though it’s not much, it can still make a big difference, hence the reduction in blood pressure you saw. For some people, drinking lemon juice is a good solution for hypertension. There are also other vitamins in lemons and lemon juice that contribute to the fruit’s health benefits, especially vitamin C. At the same time, others may have other health issues that are not compatible with this natural remedy. Lemons in general are bad for acid reflux, gastritis, sensitive teeth etc. and people with these ailments might benefit more from other natural sources of potassium. In any case, happy to hear it was good for your husband’s blood pressure and wishing both of you lots of health.

  7. Hi, Marius. Just wanted to thank you for such a well explained article about warm lemon water. I’ve been having some issues when it comes to drinking natural lemon juice (lemonade). I have experienced constipation so bad that I have to stop drinking. However, I keep coming back to lemon/lime because of the wonderful opinion and articles I keep reading about it. Yet my body is some how telling me to stop. If I use lemon with honey for my face, it dries my skin so badly. When I drink lemon juice with or without sugar, as I said before, the constipation I experience is badly. For two weeks I began to take ginger tea mix with lemon, constipation again. So, after reading your well detailed and informative article, based on my own experience with lemon/lime and despite the positive reviews warm lemon water has, I have decided to exclude it from my diet. Thanks again, Marius.

    • Hello, Sonia. Drinking lemon water is not for everyone and, if you are experiencing side effects while pursuing this natural remedy, then it shows it is just not good for you, despite what everyone else is saying. You are an individual and will have your own particular reactions to different foods, beverages, supplements or remedies and you have to listen to what your body is telling you. If something is making you feel bad in any way, that can only mean you have to discontinue it because it’s not good for you. You can look for other alternatives to the benefits you are looking to obtain from lemon water, but without the side effects. We are all different and we should accept this and understand it is only natural to respond differently to various remedies instead of stubbornly eating or drinking something just because it’s good for others. Congratulations on your healthy attitude and responsible approach to health and wellness.

    • Hello, Duggie. Lemon juice contains citric acid which is acidic in nature and can upset the stomach, causing various symptoms that may range from acidity and heartburn to stomach pain. Acidic foods such as lemon and other citrus fruits, vinegar or pickles can have such effects in some people, especially those with existing digestive conditions, but healthy people too. So it is possible the lemon juice stirred up an existing ulcer or irritated your stomach lining or gave you an indigestion. The side effects of warm lemon water are worse if you have it on an empty stomach in the morning because when you wake up, the stomach prepares itself for the digestion of food by secreting gastric juices and giving it more acidic juices magnifies effects causing discomfort.

      You can’t exclude honey either. Honey can cause digestive upset in some people who have a difficult time digesting the sugars in it, which can result in gas, bloating or dull stomach aches. It is also possible for honey to be a source of contaminants (raw honey may contain anything from bacteria and fungi to heavy metals), hence the importance of getting certified raw honey which has been tested for contaminants. Similarly, you may be allergic to the honey and not even know it. If this was the first time you’ve had honey or the first time you’ve had this particular type of honey, you could be allergic to pollen or other elements in it and this could trigger digestive symptoms.

      My advice to you is to refrain from warm lemon and honey for a while, until you can see a gastroenterologist and have some tests because the pain could have originated in the stomach, the liver or another organ. If you’ve experienced the stomach pain only once after having the warm lemon with honey, even though you’ve had this combination before, it is possibly stomach-related. But only a doctor can tell you for sure. Make sure you tell the doctor if you have experienced the same pain sensation after eating other foods or in other circumstances, if the pain continues to occur since that episode, changes in intensity or form, if you have noticed other symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, change in bowel movement habits or stool appearance, especially color and consistency (for example, loose stools could indicate a food has gone bad, was contaminated with bacteria, you have trouble digesting something in it like a sugar, fiber or are experiencing an allergic reaction). Think about other seemingly unrelated symptoms too; for example, some people who are allergic to honey experience headaches, nausea, stomach gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, itchy throat and mouth, skin rash, watery eyes etc. In such cases, it is important to see an allergist to identify potential allergy sources and learn to avoid them in the future.
      Hope this helps and wishing you lots of health.

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