9 benefits of lemon put under the microscope

9 benefits of lemon put under the microscope

What are the real virtues of lemon? It makes you lose weight, burns fat, purifies the skin, boosts the immune system, makes hair shiny and fights cancer. Is lemon the miracle food? Low in calories (26 calories/100 grams), rich in vitamin C (53 mg/100 g) and antioxidants, lemon does bring many benefits. However, is it necessary to regularly do a lemon water cure? Let's examine nine myths about lemon juice.

The virtues of lemon as a detox

Among the virtues of lemon, drinking lemon water on an empty stomach would "purify the liver, clean the intestines and get rid of toxins", according to many websites and magazines. Hence, the popularity of lemon juice detox diets with Hollywood stars.

However, the liver does not "get dirty": on the contrary, it is responsible for eliminating toxins such as alcohol and the by-products of digestion, and has no need for lemon to do so. While citric acid does stimulate the secretion of bile, which helps digest fats, it will not prevent the body from storing them.

Helps you lose weight

A study published in 2015, conducted on 84 Korean women, showed that a detox diet based on a mixture of lemon juice for seven days led to weight loss, a reduction in fat mass and less resistance to insulin.

In reality, it is mainly fasting that produces these effects: it doesn't matter what you put in the water, when you don't eat anything for a week you are sure to lose weight! Weight that will obviously be quickly regained after returning to a normal diet.

Balances pH levels in the body

"Lemon is one of the most alkalizing foods and helps to neutralize acidity in the body," is commonly found on health websites. Despite its natural acidity (pH between 2 and 2.5), lemon is said to reduce the acidity of urine and blood.

However, the acidity of urine does not in any way reflect that of the entire body. While blood acidity is normally stable, unless you suffer from a disease (acidosis). As for stomach acidity, it has nothing to do with the acidity or alkalizing effect of a particular food, the stomach being a very acidic environment (pH between 1.5 and 5).

Boosts the immune system

Several studies confirm the role of vitamin C in preventing and reducing the symptoms of respiratory infections such as colds or even pneumonia. Vitamin C does indeed help increase the mobility of leukocytes, promotes the differentiation of lymphocytes and the production of immunoglobulins, according to the French National Authority for Health.

Its effects, however, seem very modest. Despite its reputation as an antiseptic, there is no evidence of lemon's antibacterial or antifungal effects, according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

Helps fight cancer

"Lemon is 10,000 times more powerful than chemotherapy!" is found with amazement on some websites.

A clearly false and dangerous statement. Some studies, mostly conducted in rodents or in vitro, seem to show that substances found in lemon, such as pectin and limonoids, have a protective effect against cancer by limiting tumor growth. The effect is not proven in humans. A 2019 study even suggests that vitamin C could enhance tumor cells, which are able to accumulate more than normal cells.

Purifies the skin

Vitamin C is known to promote collagen production, the protein that gives skin its strength and elasticity. A 2007 study of women aged 40 to 75 found that regular vitamin C consumption can give skin a younger-looking appearance with fewer wrinkles.

However, lemon can also cause irritation and a feeling of tightness due to its acidity. Another 2015 study also found that excessive consumption of citrus juices significantly increases the risk of melanoma due to the furocoumarins they contain, which increase skin sensitivity to ultraviolet rays.

Lightens hair

Citric acid is a natural bleach that lightens hair. It also neutralizes lime, giving hair a shine and volume at first. However, lightening will only be effective on already blond or light hair (it may even turn your color if you have dyed hair).

In the long run, lemon attacks and opens the scales of the hair, making it porous and rough. It accelerates the impoverishment of the hair in eumelanin and causes the hair to tarnish.

Finally, lemon makes hair sensitive to the sun, which can further damage it. For a light effect, prefer chamomile, which is much less aggressive.

Lemon's benefits for teeth

Like with hair, lemon is said to whiten teeth and fight plaque. Due to its acidity, lemon does indeed help remove superficial stains. However, this acidity also irreversibly attacks the enamel, making it even more permeable to colorations caused by tea, coffee, or tobacco. In addition, it can irritate the gums and cause hypersensitivity to cold or heat.

Regular teeth brushing will be much more effective for your dental hygiene.

Reduces stress and depression

According to various studies, lemon is a remedy for stress and even depression. A 2008 study explains that lemon oil helps "improve mood" and "increase noradrenaline levels," a neurotransmitter that is often low in depressed people. Another 1995 study says that breathing in a lemon smell significantly reduces the amount of antidepressants in depressed patients.

However, these results were obtained in small groups of people and may have a placebo effect. Other essential oils like lavender, ylang-ylang, or bergamot also have an anti-stress effect.

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