9 reasons to add lemon and lime to your drinking water
(NaturalHealth365) More and more people seem to be adding slices and squeezes of lemon and lime to their drinking water these days – and for good reason. When added to pure, filtered water, fresh lemon and lime create a refreshing, flavorful beverage that is a truly healthful alternative to syrupy sodas and sugary juices.
But lemon/lime water is more than just a sensible stand-in for other, less wholesome drinks. Its content of vitamin C – as well as its store of phytochemicals, such as flavonoids and limonoids – gives it some surprising disease-fighting and health-promoting clout.
The key differences between lemon and lime
While lemons and limes have similar properties, there are differences between them. Lemons, botanically known as Citrus limon, contain about 44 milligrams of vitamin C – twice as much as limes, which are known as Citrus aurantifolia.
However, the pleasing green color and richer, slightly sweeter taste of limes makes them a natural complement to lemons. In addition, limes contain many of the same beneficial micronutrients – including potassium, iron and pantothenic acid.
For maximum benefit, always opt for fresh, organic lemons and limes. Now, let’s explore the 9 health benefits.
Lemon and Lime extracts can help prevent and treat ulcers
Although people with ulcers used to be advised to avoid acidic foods, researchers are now finding another side to the story. Extensive studies have shown that a citrus constituent known as limonene can fight ulcers and protect the stomach lining.
In one intriguing study published in Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers acknowledged that earlier studies had already demonstrated that lemon extracts have the ability to help prevent ulcers from forming.
The goal of this particular study, however, was to see if these extracts could treat ulcers that already existed. And the short answer was “yes.”
The team quickly found that essential oils from lime and lemon peels exhibited healing activity in laboratory-induced gastric ulcers in rats.
During the two-week study, the team found that the non-toxic treatment promoted an increase in epithelial (stomach lining) healing. In addition, the essential oils fortified the gastric protective barrier by aiding in the production of gastric mucus.
Note: of course, don’t try to treat ulcers – or any other medical condition – with lemons or limes without first consulting your integrative physician.
Vitamin C in lemons and limes helps promote iron absorption
Iron, which plays an important role in transporting oxygen through the body, is vital for health. Vitamin C promotes the absorption of this essential mineral – thereby helping to prevent iron deficiency. Also known as anemia, iron deficiency can cause dizziness, weakness, fatigue and impaired immune response.
So powerful are vitamin C’s absorption-promoting qualities that 100 mg with a meal – roughly equal to the amount in two large lemons – can increase iron absorption by a whopping 67 percent.
Vitamin C in lemons and limes boosts the immune system
Natural health experts sometimes refer to vitamin C as the “muscle of the immune system” – and this hard-working micronutrient has earned the title. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C enhances immune function by increasing the production of disease-fighting white blood cells and promoting the activity of natural killer cells.
Vitamin C’s disease-fighting abilities have been demonstrated in peer-reviewed research.
In a study published in Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, ascorbic acid was shown to reduce the duration and severity of respiratory tract infections.
As an added bonus: Lemons and limes also help to balance pH. Although they are an acidic food, they actually help the body become more alkaline, helping to ward off disease.
Lemons and limes improve heart health
In addition to their other gifts to the body, lemons and limes can fight heart disease and lower blood pressure.
One study by the prestigious Harvard School of Public Health found that fresh fruits and vegetables were associated with a small but meaningful decrease in the risk of heart disease – and limes and lemons, along with leafy greens, were credited with the biggest impact.
Lemons and limes are anticancer
One of the most promising benefits of lemon and lime extracts is their ability to kill cancer cells. Lemons are particularly rich in a flavonoid known as hesperidin and a monoterpene called limonene – both of which have been shown to help prevent cancer.
Vitamin C-rich lemons and limes also combat cancer through their powerful antioxidant capabilities. This allows them to scavenge harmful free radicals, reduce oxidative stress and prevent potentially cancer-causing breakage and mutation of DNA.
Prevent kidney stones with lemon water
Research has shown that lemons and limes have yet another surprising benefit – the ability to discourage kidney stones.
One study found that “lemonade therapy” reduced stone formation, while helping to decrease the amount of calcium in the urine. Experts think that lemon’s natural diuretic and detoxifying abilities are responsible.
Lemons and limes help promote weight loss
Lemons and limes are naturally low-calorie – in fact, a glass of lemon water made with the juice of half a lemon clocks in at a modest 6 calories – yet their refreshing, zippy taste can help to curb appetite and control overeating.
And these citrus fruits don’t just help to reduce appetite – there is some evidence that they can assist in the elimination of fat. In one animal study, researchers credited lemon compounds with helping mice lose fat cells, and helping to keep them off.
Lemons are true thirst-quenchers
If you suffer from “dry mouth” and seemingly unquenchable thirst on hot summer days, look to lemons and limes as your first line of defense.
Their high level of citric acid means they promote better absorption of fluids – and better hydration – as well as combating dry mouth by stimulating the flow of saliva.
Lemons and limes are also natural breath fresheners.
Lemon water promotes radiant, youthful-looking skin
It turns out that lemons and limes can benefit your external appearance as well as your internal health.
Their antioxidant capabilities mean that they can help combat free radicals and prevent oxidative damage, thereby fighting the wrinkles, dry spots, dark spots and decreased elasticity that can accompany aging.
In addition, vitamin C in lemons and limes helps with the production of collagen, which gives skin its elasticity and suppleness.
So, in light of these benefits, it’s clear that lemons and limes possess impressive health-giving qualities.
The takeaway is simple: when you have lemons, make lemonade. Your body will thank you for it.
Sources for this article include:
Photo by Thomas Rousing Photography