There are plenty of bogus health trends to avoid, but a daily lemon water isn’t one of them. You may have seen this one popping up around the Internet for months now. But since we’re all struggling with this year’s seemingly endless winter (and cold and flu season) now’s a good time to try it if you haven’t already.
It’s simple: Upon waking up, squeeze some fresh lemon juice into a glass, fill with warm water and drink. And it has myriad health benefits, from helping your immune system to offering an antioxidant boost, explains Amy Myers, MD, author of The Autoimmune Solution.
“Lemon is packed with vitamin C, which can help boost the immune system,” Myers tells Health. “It’s refreshing, and it tastes good,” she says.
On top of that, “lemons are very high in bioflavonoids that destroy harmful free radicals that damage blood vessels and cause inflammation,” osteopath Vicky Vlachonis, author of The Body Doesn’t Lie, tells Health. “Plus, the invigorating smell just wakes you up.”
It’s a habit I’ve picked up, and I swear by it: It’s so refreshing after my morning workout, and I love the taste so much that I actually crave it now.
Ready to try? The amount of lemon depends on how much you can tolerate, Myers says. She recommends starting with the juice of ¼ to ½ of a lemon, and filling the rest of the glass with warm water.
Do warm water first thing in the morning, she adds. “We absorb water more efficiently at that temperature.” Then, during the rest of the day, feel free to sip lemon water at a cooler temperature, if you prefer it. This will keep you hydrated, and it may also help quench your thirst for calorie-laden soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages.
Update February 26, 2015:
There is one potential downside to lemon water. “The acid in the lemon can break down your tooth enamel. Once you break down the enamel, bacteria can get in, and then you’ve opened yourself up to tooth decay and cavities,” Dr. Joanne Caplin, a New York-based dentist, tells Health. “But it’s easy to remedy,” she adds. After you’ve downed your lemon water, “rinse with another glass of water. Swish it around in your mouth and spit it out. This will get rid of the acid that’s sitting on the teeth.”