Starting your day with a cup of lemon water is a ritual that comes with a lot of lofty promises, from weight loss to glowing skin. But is it really all that it’s made out to be? Health For Mzansi readers weigh in on this citrus beverage.
People drink lemon water for a lot of different reasons. Lebo Sekobolo (33) from Witbank says a cup of lemon water is perfect for those who do not like regular water. She enjoys a cup of hot lemon water with added raw honey to reduce the bitterness, and says she has seen the difference on her body since drinking it.
“I don’t enjoy water, so lemon water makes me drink more and more water until I am hydrated enough. I drink it when I feel thirsty nonstop and my skin and lips aren’t getting drier,” she says.
According to Kagisho Kganane (33) from Johannesburg, she started drinking lemon water after she heard it reduces stomach fat. She consumes it twice a month and confesses she hasn’t seen any difference on her body because she hasn’t been consistent.
Lemons are lifesavers
Sibongile Phoofolo (34) from Bloemfontein only drinks lemon water during winter, when she is sick with flu. She says she would recommend it as it has healing properties and makes her feel better.
Meanwhile Christine Chivende (49) from Johannesburg says she started drinking lemon water when she was trying to lose weight.
Lemon water helps her with digestion and boosts her immunity because she it’s also rich in vitamin C, says Sitembinkosi Mutambirwa (22), also from Johannesburg. She consumes it daily and says she has seen a difference on her body.
What you should know
Lemon water is not the magic concoction to help one lose body fat, Sandton clinical dietitian Mbali Mapholi cautions.
She says it is important to note that the benefits of lemon water do not lie in the concoction but rather the individual ingredients.
“Lemons are a citrus fruit are high vitamins as a fruit particularly high in vitamin C. Vitamin C is important to support immunity, collagen formation and plays a vital role in the management of common colds and flu,” explains Mapholi.
She says, “In lemon water there is very small amount of lemon influence for one to fully claim significant lemon benefit. While water is great for hydration and controlling temperature, it can play a role in body fat management. In all sorts of ways relating to fat oxidation, appetite control, gut health management including reduces bloating, constipation and helps with dehydration, which all this and more are important benefits for drinking plenty of water.”
When asked how often one can consume lemon water in a day, she says there is no specific guideline for the consumption of lemon water as this combination falls into the recommendation for overall water intake for the day.
Mapholi recommends that an adult consume a minimum of 1.5 litres (six glasses) a day and it changes with specific diseases such as kidney failure and pregnancy, among others.
“There are no general water intake guidelines for children, but rather calculate roughly based on the child’s age. There is no harm in drinking water flavoured with fresh fruit such as lemon, fresh herbs and/or fresh vegetables. Adding lemon to water enhances the taste of water a bit, which may influence one into drinking more water for the day,” she explains.
Water is life
Mapholi adds that drinking sufficient water helps with dehydration, which in turn improves the elasticity of the skin. That might be the contributing factor to what many call a “glowing skin”.
“Water also plays a role in the process of human beings ‘burning fat’, which is called fat oxidation. Which may mean – as part of a healthy diet that is calorie-controlled – if one drinks enough water, they may lose weight. Side note, people who drink enough water turn to be much more health-conscious and generally adopt healthy lifestyle choices which all many contribute to weight loss,” she says.
Mapholi says there are no side effects to drinking sufficient water, whether it is pure water or water with lemon slices added. Side effects may arise if there are underlying health conditions such as heartburn/reflux, kidney diseases and many other related diseases.
Through nutrition education, she aims to help people make informed decisions for themselves and those around them.