From Dr. Penny Stanway’s ‘The miracle of lemons’
Lemons are amazingly and enduringly popular. Their peel and juice have a delightfully fresh citrus aroma and a surprisingly sharp tang, and their wide variety of contents can help us care for our health, beauty and home, and flavour many foods and drinks. Lemon juice is rich of organic acids and contains beneficial and antioxidant properties due to its main sources of Vitamin C that make lemon a good fruit for improving digestion.
The acids in lemons include ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid (about 5 per cent of the juice) and glucaric acid. Lemons taste sour because they contain too little sugar to mask their acidity. Most of the acidity is in the juice – and its pH of 2.1 makes this even more acidic than vinegar at pH 2.4–3. (The pH indicates a liquid’s acidity or alkalinity: 7 is neutral; below 7 is increasingly acid; above 7 is increasingly alkaline.)
Lemon acids can aid digestion in people who don’t make enough of their own gastric acid. After the contents of a lemon or its juice have been digested, the lemon acids are metabolized (broken down) into water and carbon dioxide. The breakdown of the other contents releases alkalizing minerals (calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium). In contrast, most other fruits (including apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, pears, pine- apples) contain so much sugar that their metabolism adds to the body’s acid load.
Indigestion and heartburn
Lemon juice makes fried food more digestible because its acids emulsify (‘cut’) fats so that they don’t lie on the stomach, and aid protein digestion – which is particularly useful for the many people who lack sufficient stomach acid, such as one in two over-60s, and those who are stressed or take antacids unnecessarily. Also, lemons are metabolized to potassium carbonate, which helps reduce any excess acidity in the body. Finally, limonene may help prevent heartburn (perhaps by coating the gullet lining and thus protecting it from acid) and promote healthy stomach movements. A study of 19 adults found that taking 1,000mg of limonene every day or two relieved heartburn and acid reflux.
‘U.S.Patent (642045), 2002 Action: Include the zest and juice of a lemon in your daily diet.’ For heartburn, drink 1 tablespoon of lemon juice in a glass of warm water.