The health benefits of the sunniest fruit of them all…
Every morning begins in the same way. After hitting snooze more than a dozen times I shuffle to the kitchen and summon every ounce of my willpower to prevent myself from swan-diving into a vat of rich black coffee. I love coffee. I go to sleep thinking about coffee. I dream of coffee. I get out of bed for the coffee. But to shock my body with a huge dose of caffeine first thing, after it’s been resting overnight, would be doing my body a huge a disservice. Instead, I put a pot of water on the stove and select a sunny yellow lemon from the bowl, quickly assembling the real pick-me-up of the morning — warm lemon water. Just a little bit sour (the perfect amount), with steam rising from the cup, this mug of goodness doesn’t shock my body awake the way coffee would; instead, it offers a few moments of solitude, awakening my system slowly to greet the day. My body wakes from the floor up, I wiggle my toes, stretch my legs, bend my spine, feel my inner workings hum to life. It’s a ritual so ingrained that I feel off kilter when, on particularly frazzled mornings, I cut corners, hands moving straight to the French press, bowl of lemons unfairly ignored. But this ritual isn’t just good for the soul, this bright yellow citrus offers health benefits in spades, especially when combined with warm water. Today I’m diving into the health benefits of the sunniest fruit of them all — read on to learn why you should give lemons some love!
What is it? Native to Asia, lemons (scientific name Citrus x limon) grow on the lemon tree which is a small, shrubby tree in the evergreen family (who would’ve thought?). Lemons get their sour taste from high levels of citric acid, and were mainly used in medicine and as an ornamental plant until their larger cultivation in North America in the early 19th century. Long recognized as an easy way to add a quick shot of acidic tang to culinary dishes, the use of lemon wellness practices has gained wider acclaim in recent years, thanks to the growing understanding of their internal and external benefits and the growing interest in Ayurvedic practices, where lemons and lemon juice are used to detox the body.
What are the benefits? So… what makes lemons, and especially lemon water, so special? Like any citrus fruit worth its weight in immunity-boosting powers, lemons contain high levels of vitamin C, along with copper, magnesium and potassium. All good if you’re hoping to stay healthy throughout these cold winter months (or even fighting off warm weather colds and flu south of the equator). But the real magic happens when we mix lemon juice with water and wash it all down. While they may be acidic in nature, once the juice of lemons enters our bodies, it turns alkaline and instead of creating acidity, the alkaline lemon juice actually balances Ph levels and eases inflammation by helping to reduce the uric acid that can hang out in our joints. This same alkalizing nature, combined with the antioxidant power of vitamin C, has been shown to aid in clearing skin, killing some of the bacteria that may cause acne. Lemon juice also encourages the liver to produce more bile, aiding in digestion and stimulating the digestive tract, and has been found to ease heartburn and indigestion. So… where does the water come in? Warm water is easier on the system, especially first thing in the morning. It also goes without saying that water is hydrating and drinking the juice from ¼ to ½ a lemon is a whole lot easier when it’s diluted in a glass of water.
If you just can’t being yourself to drink a glass of lemony water just yet (but seriously, you should… maybe try adding a little honey), lemons offer plenty of external benefits as well. The citric acid in lemon juice can brighten dull, rough skin and clear away dandruff when applied in small quantities.
How do I use it? Harnessing the power of lemons is as easy as squeezing some juice in a glass of warm water and drinking it down. I’ve included a handy guide below for creating the perfect glass of warm lemon water. Lemons also lend themselves well to DIY beauty treatments such as masks, soaks and scrubs like the one shared below. And don’t discount the simplicity of squeezing a bit of lemon on your food — along with adding a burst of fresh flavor, the enzymes in, and alkalizing nature of, the juice will aid in digestion and ease stomach upset. Need to freshen your breath after your meal? Simply chew a small piece of the rind to wash away odors.
Lemon Olive Oil Sugar Scrub
To make enough for one use:
3 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice from ¼ lemon
Optional: 1 tsp raw honey
To make as a gift:
1 cup sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
Optional: 1 tbsp raw honey
In a non-metallic bowl, mix all ingredients together with a wood or plastic spoon. Use immediately or place in a sealable glass container.
To use: If you have sensitive skin, I recommend testing on a small patch of skin before using in total to ensure the lemon juice isn’t too harsh. Rub all over damp skin and rinse off with warm water. Pat dry to allow the olive oil to sink in.
Warm Water with Lemon
It’s pretty much what it sounds like…
¼-½ fresh lemon (lemon juice from a bottle is not as potent and typically contains preservatives)
8-12 oz warm filtered water (not boiling)
Optional: 1 tsp raw honey
Place all ingredients in a glass and drink first thing in the morning. If possible, wait 15-30 minutes before consuming additional food or drink.
**It’s important that your water is filtered to remove any heavy metals.
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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.