Serious question: Is there a "wellness" blogger out there who doesn't start their day with a steaming mug of water with a goddamn lemon slice in it? As seemingly the only health writers on the planet who don't do this, we're starting to feel a bit left out — and wondering if we're actually missing out. After all, in addition to the supposed beauty benefits, the morning potion is purported to "detox" your body, to "wake up" your digestive system, alkalize you, and promote weight loss. But, as usual, the trend isn't half as magical as it sounds.
"The biggest benefit is that it helps you stay hydrated," says Lisa Young, PhD, RD, adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU Steinhardt. Hear that? Your steamy cup is not ridding your body of mysterious toxins (you have a liver for that). It's simply delivering the delicious power of water, which doesn't require a single drop of lemon juice to be effective.
"[Hot lemon water is] also calming, it's good for digestion, and you get a boost of vitamin C from the lemon," Dr. Young says. However, any water is good for digestion — hot, cold, lemon'd, or otherwise — in that it helps break down your food and, therefore, helps stuff move through your GI tract. You could also get that vitamin C from some orange slices or a strawberry breakfast smoothie. Plus, Dr. Young says people who have acid reflux issues definitely shouldn't drink lemon water because it may trigger their symptoms.
That said, Dr. Young herself is a fan of the concoction, she says, but prefers to wind down with it in the evenings rather than make it part of a morning ritual. "It’s a great habit," she says. "But the benefit is really just that you’ll have water, the lemon tastes great, and it’ll give you some vitamin C." Honestly, that's magical enough for us.