The Real Reason You Should Never Put A Lemon In Your Drink

Staying hydrated is one of the healthiest and easiest things you can do for yourself. Water is literally life, and it is unlikely you will ever hear any health professional tell you to drink less water because it seems like common sense. According to WebMD, nowadays, people are more proactive about drinking more water by carrying it around with them, though the most popular drink in the U.S. is still soda. Joan Koelemay, RD, a dietitian for the Beverage Institute, an industry group, told WebMD, "Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water, and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day."

Drinking eight glasses of water is more than a guideline and is necessary for your well-being. Healthline shared that water helps regulate your body temperature to protect all your tissues and joints and support digestion. Staying hydrated keeps you in a better mood, helps your cognitive functions, and even gives you better skin. Some people find drinking plain old water a little boring, but you can add a little oomph to it by drinking sparkling water or infusing it with cucumber, ginger, and lemon.

Benefits of drinking lemon water

Most of us know that drinking water is a healthy habit, yet over 50% of American adults don't drink the amount of water they need because they either forget or get too busy, per The New York Post. Many people blame the taste of water for not drinking enough of it, but isn't water tasteless and odorless? According to Healthline, water (interestingly) does have a taste, and it can taste different depending on the individual and where the water comes from. The water you get from the tap, based on your geography, will have different amounts of minerals than bottled water. So they will taste different.

If you aren't a fan of drinking plain water, you can add a little lemon juice to it to add a little zing to encourage you to drink more. In addition to the citrus flavor, adding lemon to your water can also help digestion, potentially prevent kidney stones, and even promote weight loss, per Cleveland Clinic. Lemon is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that can help against oxidation that can damage your cells. Not too shabby that a little piece of lemon can encourage you to drink more water and provide all the health benefits. However, squeezing a little lemon into your water at home and adding a lemon wedge to your drink at a bar are two different things.

The restaurant lemon garnish in your drink may not be hygienic

"Lemon or lime?" might seem like a harmless question when you are out getting a drink with friends, but it might not be the smartest thing. The cute little garnish might potentially contaminate your drink or food, depending on how it was handled before making it to you. In fact, it might be potentially dangerous for you. In a December 2020 interview with The List, award-winning nutrition expert Toby Amidor said, "A slice of lemon in your water, cola, or cocktail, may seem like a nice idea for a low-calorie flavor option, but can actually lead to pathogenic microorganisms landing in your drink." Amidor, the Wall Street Journal best-selling author of "The Best 3-Ingredient Cookbook," added, "As fresh lemons may be handled by unwashed hands or sliced on contaminated cutting boards or knives, there is a chance for cross contamination." We hate to think of that, but unfortunately, it does happen. Most restaurants will practice better hygiene by wearing gloves when handling food with their hands, so if you see the server or bartender plopping the lemon into your drink with their bare hands, you might want to stick to plain water or beverages without garnish, per Business Insider.

The lemon rind can often be a breeding ground for germs and bacteria

The idea of eating or drinking anything that has been touched by someone else's bare hands is not appealing. But what's worse, it can also make you sick. A study conducted by the Journal of Environmental Health study examined the rind and flesh of 76 lemons at 21 restaurants right after serving them and found 70% of them had some kind of microbial growth, per the HuffPost. The researchers hypothesized the root of the microorganisms to either be the restaurant employees or raw meat contamination. And that is disturbing. If taking lemon in your drinks could make you potentially sick, it might be best to leave those out when dining out. There is also a possibility that the lemon was not washed thoroughly before being used. Business Insider shared that it might help to just squeeze the lemon juice instead of dumping the entire piece of lemon into your drink, but the flesh could be contaminated as well. When nutrition expert Toby Amidor spoke with The List, she said, "This is especially true in the hustle and bustle in a restaurant or bar setting." She added that though lemon in water can sound like an appealing idea, most people don't practice it much at home either and generally stick to it when out.

Too much lemon water may cause health problems

Keep in mind that you would need to drink a lot of lemon water or already have health issues for it to have a negative impact, Small quantities will not affect you negatively. Lauren Manaker at Nutrition Now Counseling told Eat This, Not That! "While social media claims that drinking lemon water boosts your metabolism, breaks down fat, and detoxes your body, the medical literature doesn't quite show as much enthusiasm surrounding these benefits," but if a little added flavor helps you stay more hydrated, it's not too bad. As many people struggle to get their daily intake and find creative ways to get themselves to drink more water, there are cases of people who might drink too much lemon water. And that isn't good for you either. Manaker added, "For some people, particularly those with acid reflux, drinking lemon water may worsen reflux symptoms." Those prone to heartburn and acid reflex might want to skip all lemon in their drink as it might cause you more pain. Live Strong reported that too much lemon water may worsen GERD symptoms or cause tummy issues. If you have sensitive teeth, lemon water might make it worse as it can wear down teeth enamel because of citric acid, per Healthline. You can always use a straw, so your teeth have the least contact with citric acid in the lemon juice as well.