There are a lot of people recommending drinking lemon water each day (usually in the morning). We’re here to help you separate the facts from the hopeful fictions and challenge you to see if it works for you!
Drinking lemon water will alkalise your blood – Fact or Fiction?
The reason this claim is made is because although lemons are acidic (lower than 7 on the pH scale) when metabolised by your body they have an alkaline-forming effect.
The pH range is from 0-14. Water at a pH balance of 7 is neutral. Human blood pH levels at 7.35 to 7.45 are slightly alkaline. In an ideal world you would eat both acid and alkaline forming foods, eating and drinking more of the alkaline ones to replicate your PH balance. Many actions in your body create acid, so eating a wholly alkaline diet is recommended by some practitioners.
The pH balance of your blood is incredibly tightly regulated. It is always between 7.35 and 7.45. If it falls below 7.35 you’re entering acidosis, severe acidosis can lead to comas and in extreme circumstances - death. Alkalosis is what it’s called when it rises above 7.45 which will lead to convulsions. Your body has a series of buffer systems to stop you entering either acidosis or alkalosis.
An alkaline DIET may very well be the key to good health (studies are ongoing but the science looks good) but you will not change the pH balance of your blood dramatically, nor would you want to. It’s doing a great job staying in a healthy range already, and if it’s not in the healthy range you need to see a doctor immediately!
Despite lemons being acidic, they do indeed have a moderate to strong alkaline-forming effect when ingested. As do most fruits and vegetables. Most grains, animal and highly processed foods have an acidic forming effect. If you’re eating a lot of these foods and a smoker then you are creating a LOT of acid and you do want to balance that out with far more alkali-forming foods.
Fresh lemon water, especially first thing in the morning, can help relieve or prevent digestive problems like bloating, intestinal gas and heartburn and stimulate better digestion in general.
Lemon juice is acid forming in the stomach (not when metabolised.) A lack of acidity in the stomach can contribute to digestive issues.
Your stomach has a pH balance of between 1.5 and 3.5. Pure lemon has a pH of around 2. However when you mix it with water (7 neutral PH) the pH balance rises to around 6.5.
Heartburn is usually caused by your stomach acids ending up in the wrong place (acid indigestion), e.g. the oesophagus. Drinking MORE acid will not help. You want antacids like bicarbonate.
Strong lemon water will match the acidity your stomach has – if you suffer from a lack of acidic action in your stomach gases drinking pure lemon juice ought to help. Drinking water is always helpful to flush out your system. However if you’re suffering from heartburn you may well be better with antacids or alginates. However there is a LOT of anecdotal evidence over the years regarding lemon water helping to maintain a healthy system.
Lemon water in the morning provides your essential daily vitamin C.
Assuming you’re juicing one whole small lemon (58g) and adding it to water you will get just over 30 mg of vitamin C. This is around half of your recommended daily amount if you’re American (60mg) or near the 40mg recommended in the UK.
It is recommended that you don’t exceed 1000mg of vitamin C by the NHS (UK), although some researchers suggest this level or higher for combating colds. Excess vitamin C is not dangerous although it may cause stomach upsets as it is excreted.
These recommendations are for adult non-smokers, if you’re a smoker you need a LOT more vitamin C as cigarettes kill it. At least another 35 mg is recommended (or stopping smoking, that’s also recommended!)
In addition, only around 70-90% of the vitamin C will be picked up from food and beverages.
One squeezed lemon in water is not a sufficient level of vitamin C for the entire day - even by the UK’s relatively low recommendations. However it’s a good start, excess vitamin C is rarely an issue and you’d need around 20 lemons to get close to 1000 mg a day.