While it seems to be the modus operandi of the universe, I am continually surprised by the way one thing leads to another in life -- how seemingly unrelated or tangential passions, experiences or discoveries can actually be so intertwined. Mindfulness (in my relationship with myself and with others) is not something I had thought much about until I began seriously dipping into the world of food. My burgeoning passion for cooking led me to food blogs written from a holistic perspective, which impelled me to consider nutrition, the idea of mindful eating, and other manners of expressing mindfulness for the first time in my life. While this is important in myriad situations day in and day out, there is a particular time and circumstance in which I have particularly considered what it means, looks and feels like to be mindful: the moment of waking. The first sixty minutes of my day. How I treat my mind and my body before I leave the comfort of my home and begin to encounter and engage with the outside world. This consideration has led me to a number of rituals or acts (stretching, breathing, always making time for breakfast), one of which is so subtly powerful that I truly believe everyone should adopt it: drinking a mug full of warm lemon water.
The benefits of drinking a warm glass of water with the freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon first thing in the morning--before consuming anything else--were completely unknown to me a year ago. Ever the skeptic (or maybe just someone who has been conditioned to do her research), I didn't immediately adopt this ritual after first reading about it on the incredibly inspiring My New Roots--primarily because I've always hated lemon in my water. Yet after investigating a bit, I found that a number of health and wellness websites recommended integrating this simple but powerful act into one's life. While I can't say I've vigilantly consumed my warm lemon water every single morning since the fateful day I first read about it, I can say with confidence that I have been converted. I do it with regularity. And you should too. It will bring health and vitality to your body in a surprising number of ways.
Drink up! The Benefits of Warm Lemon Water (first thing in the morning)*
1. Balances pH levels in the body. The human body's susceptibility to disease and illness is highly contingent upon its pH level. Standing for 'potential hydrogen', pH is measured on a scale from 0-14, where 0-6 is acidic (oxygen deprived), 7 is neutral, and 8-14 is alkaline (oxygen rich). It is ideal for our bodies' pH level to be slightly alkaline, hovering between 7.30-7.45; cancer and other diseases and illnesses are born and thrive in an acidic state. Every food we eat has its own impact on our pH balance, depending on the way in which it is metabolized in the body. While lemons taste quite acidic, they are actually highly alkalizing. Drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning is like a daily detox, re-booting our system and supporting its alkalinity.
2. Strengthens the immune system. In addition to lemons' highly alkaline state supporting immunity in our bodies, they also contain high levels of vitamin C and potassium.
3. Kickstarts the digestive system. The vitamins and minerals in lemons help loosen toxins in the body's digestive tract, while warm water activates the gastrointestinal tract; together, these function to keep our digestive system happy and moving at the start of the day.
4. Helps eliminate toxins. While lemons act to loosen toxins in our bodies, they also stimulate urination in the body. This means that toxins are released more efficiently and readily.
5. Supports weight regulation / loss. Lemons are high in pectin fiber, which helps us feel full or satiated for extended periods of time and prevents spikes in blood sugar levels. Additionally, research has shown that an alkaline diet is linked to weight loss (which makes sense, as the highly alkaline foods are primarily vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats).
6. Promotes clear & radiant skin. The vitamin C in lemons helps prevent blemishes and wrinkles. Additionally, lemons' cleansing properties, releasing toxins from the blood, supports clear skin.
While I can't say that I feel the intricacies of my body being detoxified with each sip of lemon water I consume during my mindful morning ritual, I can say these two things with complete certainty: since I began drinking daily warm lemon water almost a year ago, I have not been sick a single day and my skin has been (pretty) consistently clear. These present benefits alone--not even considering the long-term health benefits--make this practice worth it.
As spring settles upon us and we begin to be surrounded by bountiful foods, gorgeous flowers in bloom and natural renewal, we often get the itch to spring clean our lives and the spaces around us. Let this be the beginning for you: a spring cleaning of your body. A simple morning ritual, to start now and see through this spring and beyond.
*Information from MindBodyGreen, 'Why You Should Drink Warm Water & Lemon'; Altered States, 'Monitoring Your Body's pH Levels', and MindBodyGreen, 'How to Balance Your pH to Heal Your Body'.
Warm Water with Fresh Squeezed Lemon
mug of water
1. (Before consuming any other food or drink in the morning.) In a saucepan, warm water on low heat. (It is essential not to boil the water, as this will kill all the good stuff in the lemon juice.)
2. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into your mug. Remove seeds.
3. Add warm water and enjoy!
4. Wait 15-20 minutes before consuming any other food or drink to allow the lemon's goodness to do its thing.