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Is taking a shot of lemon juice good for you?

Lemon juice has become a popular health trend in recent years. Some people advocate taking a shot of straight lemon juice each morning as a detoxifying ritual. Proponents claim that lemon juice provides a wide range of health benefits from improving digestion to boosting immunity. But is taking a daily lemon shot really that good for you? Let’s take a closer look at the potential benefits and downsides.

Potential Benefits of Lemon Juice

There are a few reasons why lemon juice is thought to be beneficial:

High in Vitamin C

Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C. One fluid ounce (30 ml) of lemon juice provides about 23% of your daily vitamin C needs (1). Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals that can damage cells and lead to inflammation in the body (2). Some research shows that getting enough vitamin C each day can boost immunity and help prevent conditions like heart disease and certain cancers (3).

Alkalizing Effect

Some advocates believe that lemon juice has an alkalizing effect on the body. They claim it can help neutralize acid in the body, improve pH levels and prevent disease. However, this effect is unlikely to persist once the lemon juice enters your digestive tract. Your stomach acid neutralizes any alkaline effect of the lemon juice (4).

Aids Digestion

Drinking warm or hot lemon water early in the morning may help stimulate digestion and relieve symptoms of indigestion or constipation. This is partly thought to be due to the way that citric acid interacts with digestive enzymes (5). However, there isn’t strong evidence to confirm lemon juice’s efficacy as a digestive aid.

Detoxifying Effect

Some people believe that lemon juice has detoxifying properties. Advocates claim it can help remove toxins from your liver, kidneys and digestive tract. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this. Your body already has effective systems in place to remove toxins and waste products (6).

Potential Downsides of Lemon Juice

Despite the potential benefits, there are also some downsides to taking shots of straight lemon juice that need to be considered:

Acid Erosion of Tooth Enamel

Lemons are very acidic, with a pH around 2–3. Acidic foods and beverages can erode tooth enamel over time, increasing the risk of decay (7). Drinking straight lemon juice without properly rinsing your mouth afterward could lead to acid erosion of tooth enamel.

Heartburn or Reflux

The high acid content in lemon juice may provoke heartburn, nausea or reflux symptoms in some people, especially those with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) (8). Consuming lemon juice outside of meals may be particularly problematic.

Kidney Stones

Some sources advise against high lemon juice intake for those prone to kidney stones, as the citric acid may increase urinary citrate levels (9). However, other research actually shows that lemon juice could help prevent kidney stones by increasing urinary citrate and urine volume (10).

Blood Sugar Spikes

In addition to natural sugars, lemon juice contains citric acid that may help block enzymes needed to process carbohydrates. This could cause blood sugar levels to spike temporarily after drinking lemon juice (11). Those with diabetes need to monitor this carefully.

Drug Interactions

The compounds in lemon juice may interact with certain medications. Lemon juice can sometimes interfere with enzymes needed to metabolize drugs in the liver. Speak with your doctor if taking lemon juice alongside any medication (12).

How to Take Lemon Juice Shots

If you want to try incorporating lemon juice shots into your morning routine, here are some tips:

  • Always use fresh lemons and squeeze juice daily instead of relying on store-bought bottles.
  • Mix juice from 1/2 to 1 lemon into 8 oz warm water.
  • Drink first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and wait at least 30 minutes before eating.
  • Swish some water in your mouth or brush teeth after to prevent acid erosion of enamel.
  • Monitor any symptoms and discuss with your doctor if problems arise.
  • Don’t take lemon juice if you have ulcers, heartburn, GERD or kidney stones.

The Bottom Line

Incorporating fresh lemon juice into your daily routine may provide some benefits from the vitamin C and antioxidants it contains. However, there is limited evidence that straight lemon juice shots provide the extensive health benefits claimed by some supporters. High intake of straight lemon juice could also pose some risks related to dental erosion, reflux, blood sugar and medication interactions for certain individuals.

Overall, moderation is key if you want to add lemon juice to your diet. Speak with your healthcare provider, especially if you have any underlying health conditions. And don’t rely on lemon shots alone to improve your health.

Focus instead on following an overall healthy and balanced diet, managing stress, exercising regularly and getting enough sleep. This will go much further in supporting your health and wellbeing over the long-term.

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