Lemon water is a refreshing drink and is generally considered good for health. The use of this healthy drink as a food and as a therapeutic agent is well documented. However, its use when breastfeeding needs caution if the breastfeeding mother has acidity issues.
In this MomJunction post, we share the health benefits of lemon water, along with its probable side-effects when consumed during breastfeeding.
Is Lemon Water Safe When Breastfeeding?
Yes, lemon water is considered “safe to drink” when breastfeeding. It is most commonly recommended to stay hydrated and keep digestive issues, such as bloating, at bay (1). When breastfeeding, this healthy drink could add variety to your daily water intake.
The lemon water prepared from fresh lime juice at home is comparatively healthier than the premixes, such as lemonade, available in the market. However, just like any other beverage or food, have lemon water in moderation.
Nutritional Value Of Lemon Water
Lemon juice is rich in phenolic compounds, vitamins, minerals, dietary fibers, carotenoids, and essential oils (2). Besides, it also has a considerable amount of citric acid that possesses various health-benefiting properties (3).
Possible Health Benefits Of Lemon Water
Regular consumption of lemon water could provide the following benefits to the lactating mother and the breastfeeding baby.
- Hydration: Anecdotal evidence suggests that lemon water could promote hydration, which in turn supports having optimum breast milk supply. However, scientific studies on this are limited (4).
- Weight management: Lemon water (without sugar) is a low-calorie beverage that can be an ideal replacement for various high-calorie beverages, such as sweetened apple juice and soft drinks. This replacement helps reduce your total calorie consumption while keeping you hydrated. Besides, several scientific studies show that lemon juice contains polyphenols that help in sustainable weight loss by fighting body fluid retention (5).
- Digestive health: Research studies show that citrus fruits have positive effects on the digestive system due to their digestion-enhancing properties (6). Enhanced digestion ensures better nutrient absorption. It also keeps digestive problems, such as acidity, at bay (7).
- Gut health: Some animal-based research studies show that the lemon polyphenols such as Eriocitrin found in lemon juice and peel could have positive effects on the host and the intestinal microbiome (8).
- Liver health: Citric acid makes fresh lemon water an effective drink that could also act as a detox drink for the liver.A research study showed the hepatoprotective effect of lemon juice, attributed to the presence of citric acid (9) (10).
- Immunity: Lemon juice, just like several other sister citrus fruits, contains vitaminC, antioxidants, and several micronutrients that likely have a positive effect on immunity (11). An in vitro study demonstrated the possibility of antimicrobial properties of lemon juice that could support immunity (12).
- Blood sugar control: Excess pregnancy weight can have an impact on blood sugar levels. Research suggests that a compound called naringenin found in lemon juice may help in regulating blood sugar levels (13). Anecdotally, lemon water is also considered a blood purifier.
- Cardiovascular health: A research study on lemon, honey water fasting demonstrated blood pressure-lowering effects of lemon on healthy individuals (14) (2)due to the anti-inflammatory properties of citric acid and antioxidants.
- Skincare: Some research studies note that vitaminC and antioxidants found in lemon juice have skin repairing and protective properties (15). Besides, lemon juice also has functional properties that might help strengthen the veins (16). Anecdotally, regular consumption of lemon juice is considered effective in reducing the aging effects.
Lemon juice may also provide symptomatic relief from sore throat.
Possible Side Effects Of Lemon Water
Lemon water has several health-promoting properties. However, it is pertinent to know about the possible side effects too.
- Tooth enamel damage: Overconsumption of lemon water could cause tooth enamel erosion as lemon juice contains high amounts of citric acid. To avoid this, rinse your mouth with warm water after consuming concentrated lemon water or juice.
- GERD and ulcers: Lactating mothers with GERD or ulcers duringthe nursing phase should avoid lemon water due to its acidic nature.
- Allergy: Lemon allergy is uncommon but cannot be ruled out. Some documented cases show exacerbation of existing respiratory allergies, such as asthma, due to the inhalation of the aroma from lemon peels (17).
Precautions While Consuming Lemon Water When Breastfeeding
- Consume lemon water in moderation. The best time to have it is early morning after you wake up and 30 minutes after meals.
- Prefer freshly squeezed juice to the premixed lemon powders available in the market.
- Avoid using hot water to prepare lemon water as it can destroy heat-sensitive vitamins such as vitaminC. It reduces the total vitamin C content of the drink. Therefore, prepare lemon water with lukewarm or cold water.
- Do not store half-cut lemon in the refrigerator. Lemon stored this way can harbor harmful microbes. Besides, a chopped lemon could lose nutrients due to exposure to air and light.
- You can prepare infused lemon water by adding some lemon slice, cucumber slice, and mint leaves in water. However, when you do so, ensure that the lemon is cleaned properly. Fill this infused water in a water bottle and store it for a day if required. You might consider using an infusion bottle for the same.
- Consume lemon water as early as possible. If you want to store it for some time, keep it in an airtight bottle in the refrigerator. However, freshly squeezed water should not be stored for long hours.
- Do not store lemon juice in a copper bottle since the citric acid will react with copper. It can cause the formation of compounds that could be toxic to the body and thus lead to vomiting.
- If you plan to buy commercially available concentrated lemon juice, then consulta lactation specialist. This is important as these juices couldhave high sugar content, along with additives. If you suspectyour breastfeeding infant is showing symptoms of lemon allergy, then stop consuming lemon water and consult your doctor.
Regular consumption of fresh lemon water has several health benefits for breastfeeding mothers and their babies. However, it can support your nursing phase only when consumed as part of a well-balanced diet. Therefore, drink plenty of other fluids and eat healthy food, along with drinking lemon water.
2. Yoji Kato et al.; Effect on Blood Pressure of Daily Lemon Ingestion and Walking; National Center For Biotechnology Information
3. Kristina L. Penniston et al.; Quantitative Assessment of Citric Acid in Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, and Commercially-Available Fruit Juice Products; National Center For Biotechnology Information
4. Extra fluids for breastfeeding mothers for increasing milk production; Cochrane
5. Yoshiko Fukuchi et al.; Lemon Polyphenols Suppress Diet-induced Obesity by Up-Regulation of mRNA Levels of the Enzymes Involved in β-Oxidation in Mouse White Adipose Tissue; National Center For Biotechnology Information
6. Valussi M; Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties.; National Center For Biotechnology Information
7. The Surprising Benefits of Hot Water and Lemon; Flushing Hospital Medical Center
8. Chikako Shimizu et al.; Effects of lifelong intake of lemon polyphenols on aging and intestinal microbiome in the senescence-accelerated mouse prone 1 (SAMP1); National Center For Biotechnology Information
9. Tong Zhou et al.; Protective Effects of Lemon Juice on Alcohol-Induced Liver Injury in Mice; National Center For Biotechnology Information
10. Omar M.E. Abdel-Salam et al.; Citric Acid Effects on Brain and Liver Oxidative Stress in Lipopolysaccharide-Treated Mice; National Center For Biotechnology Information
11. Giuseppe Gattuso et al.; Flavonoid Composition of Citrus Juices; National Center For Biotechnology Information
12. Ehigbai I. Oikeh et al.; Phytochemical, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activities of different citrus juice concentrates; National Center For Biotechnology Information
13. Danja J. Den Hartogh and EvangeliaTsiani, Antidiabetic Properties of Naringenin: A Citrus Fruit Polyphenol; National Center For Biotechnology Information
14. PrashanthShetty et al.; Does short-term lemon honey juice fasting have effect on lipid profile and body composition in healthy individuals?; National Center For Biotechnology Information
15. Juliet M. Pullar et al.; The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health; National Center For Biotechnology Information
16. MohammadrezaSabri et al.; Effect of long-term Vitamin C intake on vascular endothelial function in diabetic children and adolescents: A pilot study; National Center For Biotechnology Information
17. Citric Acid and Citrus Allergy; American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology
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