is the drink really that beneficial?

When it comes to wellness trends, starting the morning by drinking hot water with lemon has probably come across your radar. There have long been claims about the effects this warm drink has on our body: the elixir has been said to promote hydration, provide a good source of vitamin C, improve skin, aid digestion, freshen breath and even prevent kidney stones. But most of the supporting evidence is anecdotal, from people who have tried it (I’ve done it myself on and off over the years as it made me feel invigorated in the morning without the need for caffeine) rather than scientific studies. How much truth is behind the benefits of hot water with lemon and is it worth adding to your daily routine?

Spoiler alert: I was surprised to find that upon speaking to several certified nutritionists, it turns out that there isn’t much to back up many of the claims behind this popular wonder-drink.

Nutritionist Isa Robinson tells me that the hype around hot water and lemon is simply  down to ‘good PR’. “We don’t have loads of evidence that drinking hot water with lemon has all these additional benefits, it’s not necessarily any better than having an herbal tea.”

Carola Becker, a nutritionist and fitness instructor, also dispels the ‘detoxing’ myth. “Lemon water seems to be getting a massive amount of hype recently, and sadly a lot of false claims are made about it. That includes the old myth of detoxing – we have got a liver and kidneys which are busy 24 hours a day detoxing our bodies.” So no, you can’t thank the hot drink for that one. 

While the experts I spoke to cleared up that it’s not the panacea we thought it was, they also stressed there are some benefits to having lemon – in particular from the Vitamin C it contains. “Like any citrus fruits, lemons are high in vitamin C, which support a healthy immune system”, nutritionist Sophie Elwood tells me. It’s also well known that vitamin C supports bone health, which is especially important if you train as bones are “alive” and undergo stress during exercise in the same way your muscles do. In fact, a study on post-menopausal women showed that drinking lemon juice-based beverages helped with bone metabolism, prevented the loss of bone mineral density, and inhibited the breakdown of bone tissue.

There’s even some research that citric acid – which lemons are packed with – can have a positive impact on how you respond to training. One study showed that people who took an oral citric acid supplement scored lower for physical fatigue after undertaking manual work compared to that of the placebo group, while another piece of research on women doing aerobic training found that those who were given orange juice (another citrus-rich drink) decreased their blood lactate threshold by 27% – compared to 17% in those who didn’t have any. This suggests that despite…

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