Drink Lemon Juice without Water?
by Cecilia Goh
(Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Question: I often drink lemon juice with sea salt, sometimes without water. I worry whether it will cause any harm to my stomach. Please advise. Thank you.
Nancy’s Answer: In order to answer this question, we need to understand stomach acid pH and the pH scale. As you may know, the pH scale measures the acidity or baseness (alkalinity) of a substance from 1 to 14 on the scale.
A neutral pH is seven. Any number higher than 7.0 is alkaline and any number less than that is acidic.
The pH of stomach or gastic acid is generally between 1.5 and 3.5 pH, which is highly acidic. This level of acidity is necessary to effectively digest a wide range of foods.
The stomach has a unique lining to protect it from the gastric juices. However, if the digestive juices are too acidic, they can cause ulcers and other conditions.
Straight lemon juice (undiluted with water) typically has a pH in the range of 2.5 pH, which is very acidic but not any more so than normal digestive juices.
In fact, one of the reasons that lemon juice is so beneficial for digestion and elimination, especially when taken before meals, is because the molecular structure and pH of lemon juice is so similar to gastric juices.
So from that standpoint, straight lemon juice should not harm the stomach -- if the stomach is healthy.
In general, I do not recommend drinking straight lemon juice without water, regardless of whether sea salt is added or not.
First, there is always the risk that the person could have a pre-existing ulcer. Drinking straight lemon juice with an ulcer is not a good idea!
In addition, if a person is already prone to acid reflux, citrus juice may worsen the reflux symptoms. However, for other people, it has also been known to improve the condition. So, it goes both ways.
According to numerous dentists, drinking lemon juice can erode tooth enamel. According to Drug.com, “Lemon juice may cause loss of gloss, alteration in enamel color, and irregular dental tissue on tooth enamel.”
For daily use, I recommend squeezing ¼ to ½ lemon in 12 ounces of filtered drinking water rather than drinking straight lemon juice.
After drinking my lemon water, I like to swish plain water around in my mouth in order to remove any remaining lemon juice on my teeth. Hope this helps!
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