Load Up on Lemons
Lemons are the most popular tropical fruit in the entire world. They are aromatic and vibrantly colored, appealing to your senses of sight, taste and smell all at the same time. Despite the fact that the world seems to love lemons, this juicy citrus fruit still carries with it a certain stigma. We describe lemons as sour or bitter, and refer to objects of lesser quality as being “lemons.” We tend to think of lemons as being an accompaniment. You put a wedge in your ice tea, a twist in your cocktail, a squeeze over your fish or grate a little zest into your favorite dessert. Lemons, which are now being considered to be one of the hottest “superfood” trends, are incredibly high in vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants. It is time to take lemons out of the background and give them the spotlight they deserve.
The lemon, which is thought to be a naturally occurring cross between a citron and either a lime or bitter orange, has been valued for centuries for its medicinal and culinary uses. When you hold a lemon in the palm of your hand, you are holding over half of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C as well as noteworthy amounts of B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium and copper. A whole, average sized lemon comes in at under thirty calories and is composed of approximately ten percent carbohydrates, which are almost entirely soluble fiber which can aid in digestion and help to regulate blood sugar levels. If you have been hesitant to add more of this glorious fruit into your life because you are either put off by the sour taste, or simply aren’t sure how to use it, then read on to discover the ways that lemons can make your entire life a little brighter.
Lemons for Health
You know that if you are suffering from a cold or a sore throat that one of the oldest home remedies is tea with a little honey and lemon. You might think of some traditional remedies as being outdated and lacking any real scientific backbone, but in the case of lemons, it turns out that the earlier generations knew exactly what they were doing. We have since discovered that lemons are good for so much more than the common cold. Here are just a few examples.
- Skip the Morning Energy Drink
Starting your day with warm lemon water or a smoothie that contains lemon is just as effective in giving you a morning energy boost as your cup of coffee or sugary sweet energy drink. Lemons provide energy in three ways. First, they help aid digestion. This means that anything you eat will be more easily digested, your body will absorb more natural nutrients and you get to avoid the mid morning slump that is caused by your body working overly hard to break down and digest your breakfast.
Secondly, lemon juice has electrolytes. One of the main reasons many of us feel sluggish in the morning is because we are dehydrated and lacking in certain minerals such as calcium, potassium and magnesium. These minerals use electrical charges to improve neural communication, muscle function and regulate your heart rate. A little morning lemon helps to supply the electrolytes your body needs to get started and keep going. Finally, the B vitamins in give you just the right energy kick to get motivated and feel energized.
- Balance Your Natural pH
Your body has a natural pH level at which it functions optimally. The pH scale ranges from 0-14 and the lower your pH level, the more acidic your body is. The ideal pH for the human body hovers in the middle right around 7.0, with the typical range being 6.8 to 7.4. The fluctuations in your pH level are generally very small, however they can have a big effect on how you feel. When your body runs too acidic you might notice symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, water retention, depression, dry skin and frequent infections. Lemons are quite acidic, so how do they help to balance an acidic state in the body? When lemons are metabolized, they breakdown and actually have an alkalizing affect in the body.
- Alleviate Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
The smell of lemons, when inhaled has been shown to have a calming effect on the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Research has shown that lemon can ease the physical distress that accompanies an anxiety attack, such as dizziness, heart palpitations, nervousness, tension and fatigue. Including lemon in your diet on a daily basis, or using lemon scent as aromatic therapy can help to ease depressive symptoms, especially when combined with other techniques or medications.
- Great for Oral Health
An oral rinse made of warm water and lemon juice can boost the power of your oral care routine. The lemon juice will help kill germs which contribute to unpleasant breath and gum disease. It is also a great rinse if you have bothersome canker sores.
- It Really Does Help a Cold
Lemons provide a powerful boost of vitamin C, which your body desperately needs if you are fighting off any type of seasonal bug. As you drink in lemon juice, the antiviral properties help to loosen up mucus, which will clear up that nagging cough and soothe an irritated throat.
- Your Liver Loves Them
Have you noticed that so many detox programs always include lemon? This is because lemon is a liver stimulant and it helps to facilitate the removal of toxins and waste from your body. Lemons dissolve uric acid and the toxins in your body that are normally processed by the liver. This lessens the stress on the liver and helps it to function more effectively.
- Antioxidant Overload
A study published by the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture claims that lemon juice is one of the most antioxidant heavy juices in the world. Antioxidants are important because they fight free radicals in your body. Free radicals are renegade molecules that look for other molecules to latch on to and steal an electron from. The issue with this is that the process damages healthy cells and causes mutations to form. This can lead to serious diseases, including cancer. While free radicals will always exist in your body, it is important to keep them in balance by making sure you get plenty of antioxidants to fight them. Lemons are an excellent source of antioxidants, such as vitamin C. Just one glass of lemon water a day can help keep the free radicals away.
- Lemons Help You Lose Weight
Lemons are a digestive stimulant, which means they help to keep your digestive system healthy. A healthy body, which includes maintaining a healthy weight, starts with a healthy gut. Lemons are also high in pectin, which will help you feel full and satisfied. Additionally, lemons provide a natural energy boost which will help you get that work out in when you would otherwise feel too drained.
Lemons for Your Life
Yes, lemons are amazing for your health, but their uses don’t need to stop there. Lemons can brighten up just about every aspect of your life. Here are just a few ways that you can use lemons:
- Lemon juice is a natural air deodorizer. The fresh scent of lemon alone is enough to brighten any area, but when you soak a cotton ball or piece of gauze with lemon juice, it absorbs and kills odor-causing microorganisms. Try using lemon juice to deodorize your refrigerator or your locker at the gym.
- Lemon juice freshens kitchen surfaces. Just like lemon eliminates odors from the air, it can also be applied to surfaces to get rid of certain scents that just don’t seem to want to leave. The scent of onion or fish for example, can plague your cutting board for days, even after you have scrubbed it numerous times. Cut a lemon in half and rub it over any surface that needs a fresh start in the scent department. Many people use lemon juice to rid smells from their hands. Please be cautious with this as lemon juice is acidic and can irritate the skin. If you use lemon juice on your hands make sure to wash them thoroughly afterwards and apply a good moisturizing cream.
- Lemon juice is a natural insecticide. If you have a minor problem with insects wanting into your home during the spring and summer, one simple, all natural solution is to sprinkle windowsills and small cracks where insects might be getting in with a little lemon juice. For extra protection, grate a little lemon zest and sprinkle it along window edges and the bottom of doorways to prevent pesky intruders from entering.
- Flush them down the drain. If your kitchen sink drain or garbage disposal has taken on an unpleasant scent that you just can’t seem to get rid of, cut up a lemon and run it through the garbage disposal. The fresh scent will help clear out any stench, while the antimicrobial properties of the lemon will help to kill the offending cause.
- Lemon juice is a natural bleach. Bleach has a harsh, unpleasant smell and it can be irritating to many people. If you or someone in your household has sensitive skin, or a sensitive nose, you might be interested in a natural bleach alternative that actually works. You need not look any further than the lemon. You can scrub stains with lemon juice before washing, or you soak your clothes in a solution of lemon juice, baking soda and water for at least thirty minutes before you wash them. If you don’t necessarily need to bleach your laundry, but feel that your clothes could use a little color boost, add some fresh lemon juice directly to the wash cycle.
- Lemon juice is a great degreaser. The citric acid in lemon juice helps to break down grease. This makes it an exceptionally good choice for a natural cleaning product in your kitchen. Mix it with a little water or vinegar to clean, sanitize and deodorize your counters or add a few squeezes of juice to your dish water to amplify the power of your regular dish detergent.
There is no question that lemons are powerful little jewels of health and helpfulness. Of all the great things lemons can do, it is important to at least mention some things that lemons should not be used for. Lemons have a reputation for being an ingredient in many natural beauty applications. You might have heard that you can use them to lighten age spots, dry up acne and lighten you hair. While it is true that lemon juice might accomplish all of this, it doesn’t mean that you should try it. Lemon juice, when applied topically, is quite acidic and can be irritating and drying to your skin and hair. Additionally, when lemon is applied to your skin it can increase your photosensitivity which will make you more vulnerable to sun burn and long term sun damage.
Now you know that when life hand you lemons that there is so much more than you can do with them than make lemonade. So go out and get yourself a nice big basket full of bright, citrusy lemons. First inhale the glorious scent and then enjoy the many ways that they can improve your body and brighten your life.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals