Lemon water… magic or myth?

By The Gut Health Doctor Team

Dr Megan Rossi in a lab looking through a microscope

Lemon water? It’s no miracle! In fact, there’s no real evidence to support the health hype.


You’ve probably heard some of the crazy claims around lemon water ‘detoxifying’ the body, helping digestion and reducing your body’s ‘acidity’ to name a few.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against lemons. They’re a perfectly healthy fruit! Squeeze the juice onto my salads and fish, mix whole into a fibre-filled smoothie, or add some lemon peel to my desserts.

But ultimately, unless you love the taste, don’t down lemon water thinking it’s a health panacea…


Here’s the science:

  • Detox claims are usually based on a misunderstanding of how our bodies work – our liver, kidneys and other organs work nonstop to ‘detoxify’ you, so you don’t need ‘magic remedies’! Yes getting plenty of plants is key, but go for the whole food goodness 🌱


  • Lemon juice doesn’t ‘supplement your stomach acid’ to help digestion. Your stomach does just fine producing all the acid it needs – unless you suffer from a real condition called hypochlorhydria (low stomach acid), in which case lemon water won’t do you good either and it’s best to speak to a medical practitioner.


  • It does nothing for your gut microbes as it’s fibre-free. It’s true lemons contain some fibre, but you’d have to eat the whole lemon, including the peel, to get even 1.5g of fibre (recap: we need at least 30g of fibre per day).


  • Citrus fruits or juices are commonly reported triggers for heartburn and acid reflux, so if this affects you, try herbal teas like ginger instead and enjoy them alongside other food, not on an empty stomach.


  • Food or drink – lemon water included – don’t notably affect your blood’s tightly regulated pH level e.g. experiments from the 1930s suggested you’d need to eat 8kg of oranges per sitting to lower your pH by 0.2 (normal range 7.35–7.45)


  • Your dentist probably won’t be thrilled with your daily lemon water habit either, as evidence shows it can erode tooth enamel (if not rinsed after)


All that being said, if lemon water is part of your morning ritual which puts your head in a happy place by association, don’t let me stop you.


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