Detoxing and cleansing certainly isn’t a new idea in the natural health community. It’s an evergreen health trend, and for good reason—given the loads of modern toxins our bodies have to deal with on a daily basis, keeping things running smoothly and cleanly is especially important.
Unfortunately, though, detoxification practices and rituals are often painted as arduous, expensive, or worse. “Cleansing” conjures thoughts of spending days in isolation, imbibing strange and costly concoctions, and enduring ultra-restrictive dietary guidelines.
There are many benefits that accompany these more extreme detox methods. Fasting, for example, has been shown to improve biomarkers of disease, reduce oxidative stress, protect cognitive function, and even alleviate symptoms of various diseases, such as asthma, insulin resistance, and fatigue.
Don’t worry, though—you can also effectively detox your body even if you’re not ready to dive into the world of fasting and other involved cleanses.
Just drinking lots of water with lemon juice can help clear the bowels and facilitate the excretion of toxins
Here’s a perfect example: next time your restaurant waiter asks if you’d like your water with or without lemon, go for the lemon (and have an extra glass of water while you’re at it). Just drinking lots of water with lemon juice can help clear the bowels and facilitate the excretion of toxins, which translates into less constipation, improved digestion, decreased risk of developing colorectal cancer, and many other benefits.
The lemon cleanse
Lemons aren’t usually given the hallowed title of “superfood,” but make no mistake: they’re a seriously underestimated functional food. Take a look at all the ways in which lemons help optimize detoxification throughout the body.
Nutrient-dense body support. Lemons are packed with nutrients that keep the body functioning at peak performance. Folate, vitamin A, and vitamin E work in synergy as powerful antioxidants, neutralizing toxin-associated free radicals, controlling systemic inflammation, supporting healthy endothelial function, and improving many other health biomarkers.
And vitamin C, in which lemons are especially high, is a detox and immune-boosting superstar—check out our other article about the vastly underrated benefits of this simple vitamin. Lemons also contain a number of essential minerals, including calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium (in which the vast majority of Americans are deficient).
Digestion and microbiome support. If your digestion and gut flora aren’t in balance, it’s very difficult for your body’s detoxification systems to function at full capacity. A sluggish digestive track keeps toxic waste products in the body for longer, and a compromised microbiome can hamper the immune system, lower levels of endogenous antioxidants, and adversely affect mood and energy levels.
The pectin and citric acid in lemons improve digestion by ensuring proper uniform breakdown and nutrient metabolism, and can even encourage proper portion control and weight loss by producing a greater feeling of satiety after eating. Lemons even contain phytonutrient compounds like limonin, which help balance the microbiome and immune system because of their antiviral and antibiotic effects (they’re able to target harmful bacteria and pathogens without wiping out beneficial bacteria).
Kidney and liver function support. You may have noticed that kidney and liver “cleanses” or “flushes” are all the rage when it comes to detoxing the body. This is because the kidneys and liver play a central role in nearly all of body’s main detoxification processes (and consequently, they’re the organs that suffer directly when the body is overburdened by toxins).
The pectin in lemons has been shown to lower liver cholesterol, support liver enzyme activity, and regulate metabolism. Citric acid aids toxin excretion, improves kidney function, and discourages the formation of kidney stones; another study even found that it’s just as effective as potassium citrate for treating and preventing urinary calcium stones.
Put lemons to work
All of the benefits cited above come from the simple addition of lemon juice into your diet (don’t think that healing always has to be complicated). Adding lemon juice to your smoothies or drinking water is an excellent place to start if you want to help your body detox more effectively—but there are also some ways in which you can take this cleansing to the next level.
Unsurprisingly, lemon essential oil is in many ways even more powerful than raw lemon juice (it is, after all, a super-concentrated form of lemon’s beneficial components). As we discussed in another article, lemon essential oil stimulates lymph drainage when rubbed on the neck, improves disease resistance, and combats depression, anxiety, and other mood issues by improving dopamine levels. One study even demonstrated that lemon essential oil is more powerfully antimicrobial than any other oil.
As we’ve also discussed in past articles, another trick for getting extra mileage out of healing foods is to combine them with synergistic superfoods. For example, lemon and ginger are a detox match made in heaven.
Lemon and ginger are a detox match made in heaven
For a super cleansing drink, try blending half a cup of lemon juice, a one inch piece of ginger (leave the skin on), and a half teaspoon of Himalayan salt into a cup of water. You can also soak the ginger in a solution of lemon juice and salt, then chew on a piece before meals for optimized digestion.