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Is Honey Lemon Water Really a Wellness Elixir?

Someone drizzling honey in a cup of lemon water.
Stephm2506/Shutterstock

You might have heard that honey lemon water, in addition to being delicious, can work wonders for your health. Some claim it can help you fight off a cold, while others claim it can help you detox your body and get a slimmer waist. But, is any of this true?

For centuries, honey and lemon have been used for medicinal purposes in different cultures. In medieval Rome, citrus fruits symbolized wealth and wellness, as only affluent families could afford them. In ancient Ayurvedic medicine, honey continues to hold a reputation as a healing nectar.

Now, things are a bit different, yet lemon and honey water still have a reputation as a cure-all. Many fad diets propose that lemon water is a “detoxifying” agent that can help the body flush out toxins and melt fat. Others praise honey for being the best low-calorie alternative to sugar. Honey lemon water is also thought to be a solution for the common cold or flu.

While there’s some truth to these claims, it’s important to remember that many of these supposed benefits have yet to be validated by research.

What Honey Lemon Water Can Do for You

The number of benefits that have been broadly attributed to this tasty drink are hard to keep track of, so we’ll just stick to well-established facts:

  • It can help ease a cough: Lemons are rich in vitamin C, which supports the immune system, protects against oxidative stress, and promotes bone health. On the other hand, honey has strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Together, honey lemon water can help soothe a sore throat and ease a cough. While it’s no substitute for medical care or even a strong over-the-counter cough suppressant, you’ll be no worse for the wear by drinking it. You’ll likely feel better after a soothing hot drink.
  • It can boost digestive health: Staying well hydrated is necessary to keep your digestive system running smoothly. However, many find it challenging to drink enough water daily. Adding lemon and honey to the mix can make it easier to stay hydrated, and thereby prevent constipation, and lower your craving for soda or sugary drinks, which can cause weight gain.

Bear in mind that honey is still a form of sugar, so intake should be moderate. According to the American Heart Association, women should limit themselves to 100 calories per day from added sugars, and men to no more than 150. One teaspoon of honey contains 21 calories.

If you’re trying to kick a cola habit by drinking tea with some honey and lemon, you’ll definitely come out ahead. It only takes around 7 cups of honey lemon water (or tea) sweetened with a teaspoon of honey to equal the sugar in a single can of Coke.

To get the most benefits from honey, choose a raw, unprocessed option.

What Honey Lemon Water Can’t Do for You

Alas, while it’s a soothing drink when you have a cold or sore throat, and it’s a great alternative to chugging cola or sweetened fruit juice all day, there’s a limit to the power of honey lemon water.

Unfortunately, honey lemon water cannot do either of the following:

  • Help you detox: This is one of the most popular claims linked to this drink (and others). In reality, the body already has its own mechanisms to flush out toxins, which involve the liver, kidneys, intestines, and other organs. Thus, there’s no added benefit in that regard to drinking honey lemon water daily beyond the general benefit of staying better hydrated.
  • Melt fat: This misconception is generally associated with the idea that honey lemon water can help you lose weight. While it can contribute to weight loss through proper hydration and lower processed sugar intake, this tasty drink can’t melt fat. The best way to reach that goal is to eat a balanced, clean diet and exercise regularly to burn more calories. (Although, drinking slightly sweetened water in place of more sugary drinks certainly helps!)

Honey lemon water can be served hot or cold, and it’s both delicious and refreshing. While it can’t work miracles, it can nourish your body and sweeten your day with every sip. Cheers!

Carla Cometto Carla Cometto
Carla has been writing professionally for five years and blogging for many more. She's worked as a journalist, photographer, and translator. She's also an avid traveler who hopes to inspire a sense of curiosity and adventure in others through her writing. Read Full Bio »

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