Almost everyone has heard of the lemon water detox. Celebrities use this method to shed extra pounds before big appearances. Dieters over the world go on the Master Cleanse, a diet that involves consuming nothing but a “lemonade” made of lemon, cayenne, and maple syrup, for days at a time. Most find such a diet difficult to adhere to if not outright unhealthy, and the few shedded pounds often come back with a vengeance. Regardless of these extremes, lemons are a fantastic addition to a healthy weight loss regime, and there is a better way to use lemon water to detox your body.

How Does Lemon Water Detox Work?

lemon water detox drink

First things first, your organs need water to function. Water lubricates the joints and flushes toxins from your body. So anything that makes you likely to drink more water provides a massive benefit to health. Beyond this, a lemon water detox -combined with a healthy diet – will provide vital nutrients that your body needs and help you to detox in ways that don’t seem obvious at first. The following are just a few of these valuable nutrients and how they specifically help to support our nutritional health and/or detoxify our systems.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for your immune system to function properly, and one lemon contains roughly half the RDA for Vitamin C. This vitamin also helps to detox free radicals and keep your cells healthier for longer. The result is healthier skin, fewer wrinkles, and a more youthful appearance. Vitamin C also helps you absorb the iron in your food, which improves both your health and energy levels. More energy equals more exercise which equals more weight loss, which is a definite recipe for success.


Sufficient folate prevents birth defects such as spina bifida, supports nervous system function and, most importantly, supports a biological process called methylation. Most people don’t know what methylation is even though it is necessary for proper functioning of your cells and biological processes. In short, methylation occurs in your body billions of times a second, repairing your DNA, controlling homocysteine (homocysteine can damage blood vessels), and recycling the molecules that are needed for detoxification. We need all the B vitamins to support this process.


One lemon contains 80 milligrams of potassium. While this is only 2% of your daily recommended intake, it comes at the cost of only 17 calories. This means that you can add a bit more potassium to your diet several times a day. This helps to lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Potassium also helps to remove waste from your cells, a powerful benefit to any detoxification regimen.

Citric Acid and Pectin

Lemons contain citric acid and pectin, which helps to slow digestion and break down the food you eat more completely. This will help you gain the valuable nutrients and minerals that our modern diets so often lack. Because of the slower rate of digestion, insulin spikes are reduced as well meaning less tax on your pancreas. Pectin also lowers cholesterol and helps our overtaxed liver combat the daily onslaught of toxins in our environment and diet.

How to Use Lemon Water Detox

slices of lemon in water

Fresh squeezed lemons provide the best benefit, as these contain the highest levels of nutrients. If you have a busy lifestyle, it is also acceptable to squeeze a few lemons into an ice cube tray at the beginning of the week. Afterward, simply add a cube or two to your water when needed. Next to fresh, freezing is the most efficient way of preserving the nutrients in your fruits and vegetables.

Whatever you do, don’t use those plastic containers of lemon juice from the grocery store. Thhey most likely contain harmful preservatives that can undo the benefits of a lemon water detox. Moreover, they also expose you to harmful chemicals from hard plastics, such as estrogen mimickers and PBA’s. There is no point in using a cleanse if it comes with a toxic cocktail of harmful chemicals!

You can add lemon to every glass of water you drink, and for proper detoxification, you should drink 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. Many people also start the day with a glass of warm lemon water before they eat breakfast to jump start their digestive system and add a little pep to their step.

Variety is the Spice of Life

detox drink with citrus and cucumber

Lemon water tastes great by itself. However, if you’d like to add a bit of variety to your lemon water detox and even increase the micronutrient content of your cleanse, consider adding any combination of fresh ginger, mint, cucumbers, berries (especially strawberries), oranges or even a little cayenne pepper to boost your metabolism. A fun and nutritious way to add flavor to your purified water is to add different combinations of these ingredients to a large pitcher of water in the refrigerator and drink it all day. It only gets yummier as the day goes on!

A Word of Caution

Total fasting or extreme diets can deprive your body of vital nutrients and actually contribute to obesity. A study of overweight mothers in Egypt found that “the odds of being overweight/obese are 80.8% higher for micronutrient deficient mothers than for non-deficient mothers, keeping all other variables constant.” It doesn’t get any more definitive than that. A fully nourished body will also have a higher metabolism and a healthier thyroid. These are all necessary to help us maintain a long-term healthy weight over a lifetime, rather than just short-term weight loss.

woman drinking lemon water

Many do try to use a lemon water cleanse as a total meal replacement for several days. It is OK to fast occasionally and it is even recommended by many doctors. Nonetheless, it’s inadvisable to do this for an extended period. A complete fasting lemon water cleanse denies your body the valuable nutrients it needs to function in a healthy way and heal from the stress and toxins we face daily. According to the above study, this can ultimately be counterproductive to your weight loss in the long-term.

Instead, a lemon water detox should be part of your complete nutrition routine to help your liver and cells function more efficiently every day and help you gain the most from the healthy foods you eat.

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