We separate fact from fiction about the benefits of lemon water.
From Naomi Campbell to Jennifer Aniston, the list of models, celebrities, and wellness experts who swear by starting their morning with lemon water seems endless. We already know that getting enough water on a daily basis is key for maintaining overall health, but what are the benefits of lemon water specifically?
“Lemon water—or any flavored water—helps you hydrate by encouraging you to drink more than you probably would of plain water,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, a registered dietician and New York Times bestselling author. “Being properly hydrated will also boost the appearance of your skin, making fine lines less noticeable, and since lemons are a great source of vitamin C, you’re also getting more of that important antioxidant vitamin.”
That said, the benefits of drinking lemon water have been wildly overblown. “Lots of people claim that hot lemon water is a great tonic for the digestive system to get things moving, and while it may work, it’s true for any hot beverage, whether it’s tea, coffee, or hot water,” Largeman-Roth says.
In fact, beyond a little extra vitamin C, there aren’t really any benefits of lemon water—hot or cold—when compared with plain water. Moreover, according to registered dietician Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, LD/N, if you suffer from reflux, which a lot of people do, lemon water can worsen the condition since lemon is so acidic. The ascorbic acid in lemons can also damage teeth enamel, meaning if you have weak teeth, you should probably skip lemon water altogether.
It’s also a total myth that drinking lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach will help wake up your system. “Digestive enzymes 'wake up' no matter what you do or what time you eat or drink,” says Auslander Moreno. But there may be one advantage: “If you’re dehydrated and constipated due to dehydration, having the water, hot or cold, on an empty stomach will help your system get going, but that doesn’t mean there’s something magical about drinking lemon water on an empty stomach,” Largeman-Roth says.
Bottom line: Is lemon water good for you?
Lemon water doesn’t provide any noteworthy benefits beyond what you would get from drinking regular water. But if you prefer the taste of lemon water, you’ll be encouraged to drink more and stay hydrated.