Does Lemon Water Actually Have Any Benefits? The Detox Myth Explained

After Miranda Kerr claimed it 'flushes' your system, we spoke to a nutritionist about the lemon water detox myth pedalled by celebrities.

Miranda Kerr

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

You’ve heard about it from every celebrity, every influencer, every self-proclaimed ‘fitness expert’: lemon water is the detox cure all that’s going to turn your life around. Most recently, Miranda Kerr went viral for sharing that her morning beverage of choice was ‘32 ounces of room temperature water with one lemon squeezed in’ that she says, ‘flushes everything out from the night.’

Unsurprisingly, ‘benefits of lemon water’ is now a breakout search term on Google. But as with every celebrity-fuelled diet trend, we have to dig a bit deeper to understand whether there’s actually any science behind the so-called benefits of lemon water, or whether it’s all a big myth perpetuating false narratives around the need to ‘detox’.

With that in mind, we went to registered nutritionist and author of best-selling book The Science of Nutrition, Rhiannon Lambert, for a better understanding of whether or not drinking lemon water actually has any benefits at all. Here, she reveals all…

What are the benefits of lemon water, if any?

I’m constantly fighting pseudoscience online and lemon water is one of these so-called panaceas of health we tackle, in relation to ways in which we can ‘detox’ the body. With the rise of influencers on social media and the sharing of daily routines or ‘What I Eat In A Day’ type videos, we have seen an increase in many ‘faddy’ trendswith lemon water being a common one we see.

As I discuss in The Science of Nutrition, we don’t need to use techniques like this or detox products to help ‘cleanse’ the body, as our bodies have a highly effective detoxification system already to this, namely the liver and the kidneys.

Often, we see lemon water promoted with worrying claims to help melt fat, clear up acne or to “flush out” toxins, but these claims are simply not true. Lemon water, or other fruit infused waters, do have potential benefits, such as promoting hydration, however these benefits are coming from the main ingredient, which is water. You may also get some extra nutrients by including lemons in your water, such as vitamin C and antioxidants, but within a typical size drink there would not be enough to warrant a health claim and is unlikely to impact your weight or other health outcomes or help you reach recommended intakes of certain nutrients.

The NHS recommends that adults drink between 1.5-2 litres of fluids every day, that’s around 8-10 glasses. However, as with our energy intake, this recommendation varies depending on lifestyle factors, such as how much you sweat, your environment around you (if you’re in a hot climate you will need to drink more), your age, and for women if you are breastfeeding.

Ultimately, it comes down to your own preferences and if you enjoy drinking lemon water then there is no immediate harm in doing so, but don’t expect it to yield miracles or rid the body of any nasties it may have. Just be mindful of the amount you consume as we also need to consider the dental health issues that may arise with drinking lemon water, as the acidity from the lemons may cause enamel erosion which can lead to yellow staining or increased sensitivity to the teeth.

You can pick up The Science of Nutrition, by Rhiannon Lambert, on Amazon here.

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