As an avid traveler and digital nomad, my inherent nature tends to crave disruption to a routine, morning or otherwise. But, with limits to having different workstations (read: cute coffee shops) during quarantine, I’ve developed a curiosity for morning rituals that can help my body and mind. I’ve started adding a simple drink to my morning routine: lemon water. For the last month, instead of hitting the ‘Brew’ button on my coffee machine, I now reach for the lemons in my fruit bowl. Both Eastern and Western medicine tout the health benefits of this magical drink, so let’s dive in! What is fact and what is fiction?

What Is This Magical Drink?

I’ve had several friends rave about starting their mornings with warm lemon water, which is what made me decide to try it for myself. Thankfully, it’s super simple so my groggy self doesn’t need too much brainpower. You just need half a lemon squeezed into 8 ounces of hot water, which you can heat up in a kettle, on the stove, or in your microwave. It’s recommended to drink this first concoction thing in the morning on an empty stomach, and then wait for 10 - 15 minutes before eating breakfast.

Lemon water is extremely versatile and you can add any variations you want. I like to cut up ¼ of an inch of fresh ginger into thin slices and then add a teaspoon of honey. Others like to add mint, turmeric, or other fruits. Each of these natural ingredients have health benefits -- lemons contain Vitamin C, ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, and honey fights bacteria. Plus it’s a treat for your tastebuds!

For me, making this lemon drink in the morning is a small act that reminds me to take care of the one body I have before the craziness of the day sets in. If I do one healthy thing for myself, it also encourages me to continue the momentum. And if I do reach for the junk food later, I know that I did at least one good thing for myself that day.

Fact vs. Myth

There are a lot of conflicting messages on the internet about whether lemon water is as magical as some people claim it is. Some say that lemon water helps reduce acne, boosts the immune system, gets rid of toxins in the body, or makes you lose weight. Others are more skeptical and say that there is no scientific evidence to uphold most of these claims.

Myth: You will lose weight from drinking lemon water

Although some sources claim that drinking lemon water can boost your metabolism, there are no major studies that back up this statement. Some research says that water on its own can boost metabolism rates, so by adding lemon, it may increase your desire to drink more water (especially if you don’t already!). Or, if you drink a lot of soft drinks and want to lose weight, lemon water can be a good substitute. The USDA says that a can of ‘Cola’ has 150 calories, while half a lemon has 9 calories. You can still get a fun and yummy taste while taking in fewer calories.

Fact: You will get a boost of Vitamin C

By adding half a lemon’s worth of juice into your water (and maybe even the zest of the rind!) will get you that much closer to meeting your daily needs. An adult woman should have a recommended dose of 75 mg per day of Vitamin C, and half a lemon provides 15 mg according to the USDA.

There’s no doubt that you can get Vitamin C from other sources like fresh-squeezed orange juice (not the store-bought with added sugar) or a plate full of broccoli, spinach, or brussel sprouts. However, many of us don’t have our own juicers or we may not want to eat a plate of broccoli first thing in the morning. Adding a little Vitamin C into your water starts the day off on the right foot.

Myth: Lemon water in the morning will get rid of acne

There is another grain of truth in this common myth about lemon water. Although lemon water can’t treat your acne that can be caused by a host of different factors, drinking more water and higher Vitamin C levels can reduce inflammation, lead to clearer skin, and prevent wrinkles. So while one cup of lemon water in the morning might not do the whole deed, but it’s definitely a great way to take care of your skin first thing in the morning.

Fact: A cup of lemon water will help rehydrate your body

Since 60 percent of our body weight is water, it makes sense that drinking water is an important daily habit to cultivate. When we wake up in the morning, we are generally dehydrated since we haven’t eaten or drank in 6 - 9 hours. It’s important to get water first thing in the morning to rehydrate and wake up. Although most people go straight for the coffee, rehydrating with lemon water can be more effective at waking you up. Drinking more water can boost your energy, your focus, and help the body function at its best.

In the end, even if lemon water can’t make you lose 10 pounds or cure your acne, choosing to start your morning by rehydrating and giving your body a boost of Vitamin C can set the tone for the rest of your day. Imagine what it can do after a whole year or after five! Hold your warm cup of lemon water with both hands, close your eyes, and take a moment to appreciate this calm minute to yourself. Now, let’s take on the day.

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