Growing up, I had a neighbor who was a former marine-turned-railroad conductor.
He told me all kinds of stories about life on the rails. But to tell you the truth, I can’t recall many of them.
But one hot afternoon after mowing his lawn, he let me in on a secret that’s stuck with me for decades…
You’d never know it from looking at him, but he was pushing 80 years old.
I can’t recall him ever getting sick. He was in great shape and sharp as a tack.
In other words, he was aging exactly how everyone hopes to age.
On that afternoon, he walked out of his kitchen and handed me a glass.
As I gratefully took a gulp, the sourness of it surprised me.
But I drank it anyway.
And he went on to tell me that every day for who knows how many years, he started his day with a glass of water with as much juice as he could squeeze out of a lemon.
When I asked why, he just said, “It’s good for you.”
And, boy, was he right.
My wise neighbor may or may not have known some of the science behind the health benefits of lemon water. And who knows where he got the idea from. But he was certainly onto something.
Once I adopted his habit, I never turned back. And I’m glad I didn’t.
For starters, lemons are brimming with polyphenols. And polyphenols have been shown to prevent weight gain.
This chemical compound breaks down stored fat cells and helps speed up metabolism. Plus, polyphenols are known to reduce appetite… making it a little easier to pass on that second helping of bacon for breakfast.
Then there are the citrus fruit’s rich concentrations of flavonoids.
Flavonoids (especially of the citrus variety) have been shown to protect the liver against toxins and reduce fatty buildup there, which can protect against liver disease.
Citrus flavonoids also help the digestion process.
Their acidic makeup helps the stomach break down food and alleviate indigestion. And as we get older, this becomes increasingly important because the amount of acid we have in our stomach naturally declines. So our gut could also use a helping hand.
And lastly (and slightly more obvious), lemons bring a lot of vitamin C to the table, which as we all know is great for our immune system.
On top of that, vitamin C is a well-studied antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals and has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. So making sure you get enough of it is a no-brainer.
Just keep in mind when you make your own lemon water that the acidity can be tough on your teeth. An easy way to avoid that is to drink through a straw or rinse your mouth with water afterward.
Again, I have no idea how much my neighbor knew about these benefits.
But whether he picked it up from a buddy in the military or from a book of old wives’ tales, I’m just glad he passed it along to me.
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