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From Cancer to Stress: 10 Reasons to Include Lemon in Your Diet

Saturday May 30, 2020

Priyadarshini Patwa

Lemon has been a saviour for mankind through centuries. From Ayurveda to cooking, lemons have been a boon for health treatments. Where has lemon originated from? It's still a debatable topic but some horticulturists trace the origin of lemon to India. 

Ancient Egyptians believed that drinking lemon juice was an effective protection against a variety of poisons. In Early days, sailors carried lemon with them to prevent and treat themselves from scurvy, a dreaded disease resulting from a lack of Vitamin C. Lemon has been our one true companion.

While being healthy should always be a priority. It is a must especially at the crucial time of Covid-19. Nothing is more important than having a strong immunity and it's to include lemon in our diets. Entrepreneur India spoke with Dr Mona Dahiya, Co-Founder and Director, Homefoodi who reveals various benefits of this citrus fruit. 

"Lemon isn't just a powerhouse of Vitamin C. It also contains essential nutrients and vitamins such as B-complex vitamins, fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium," said Dr Dahiya.

It is known to everyone that vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for our body to form collagen in bones, muscle, cartilage, blood vessels and supports the absorption of iron. Our body does not produce Vitamin C and the only way to have its intake is from what we eat. 

"One lemon contains more than 100% of our daily recommended Vitamin C intake. Remedies don’t have to be new to be better and evidently, the time-tested ones are superior to modern replacements," she said.

From weight loss, blood pressure to a lot more. You name it and lemon has its way to keep your strong and fit. Bringing you 10 remarkable benefits of lemon:

Builds Immunity: 

Vitamin C, flavonoids, phenolic acid, and essential oils present in lemon are antioxidants responsible to boost immunity. Vitamin C is central to our immune system and produces B and T cells, integral for our immune response. 

"When we have optimum levels of Vitamin C, our bodies produce interferon which are proteins created by the immune system to fight viral infections, flu, and influenza. Lemon juice has anti-inflammatory properties that are essential to building immunity," said Dr Dahiya.

Prevents Cancer:

Lemon has naturally present substances that have cancer-fighting properties. The two anti-carcinogenic properties found in lemon, are modified citrus pectin (MCP) and limonoid. 

MCP is a carbohydrate found in lemon. Researches and studies have shown that it can inhibit the spread of breast, prostate, liver, bone, and skin cancer. Limonoid is a chemical present in lemon that is capable of slowing cancer cell growth. 

"Vitamin C and other antioxidants in lemon help prevent free radicals to cause damage to cells that can lead to cancer. Studies corroborate the role of citrus juice and its derivatives as potential resources against cancer," she highlights.

Kidney Stones: 

Kidney stones are formed when urine in the kidney becomes supersaturated with stone-forming salts and an absence of preventive substances. Substances such as uric acid, oxalate, and calcium develop a concentration to form crystals in kidneys. 

"Citrate present in lemon is a known source to break up stones. Lemon is full of natural citrate, which binds with calcium and blocks the formation of stones. The citric acid in lemon increases the urinary citrate level and is a strongly recommended treatment of Kidney Stones," she said.

Weight Loss: 

The proven way to reduce weight is to keep your liver and digestive system healthy by eliminating toxins. Poor digestion is a major reason for weight gain as the body is not able to burn fat because of the build-up of toxins that slow the metabolism. 

"Lemon juice mixed with water is an effective way to increase the metabolic rate. It aids in cleansing the liver and helps in digestion and prevents bloating," explains Dahiya.

Polyphenols present in lemon suppress body fat accumulation and are extremely beneficial for weight loss. It works as a natural diuretic and helps the body flush out extra water through urination

Blood Pressure: 

Blood pressure occurs when the pressure of blood in the arteries is elevated. Lemon reduces hypertension by softening the blood vessels, reducing the rigidity, and making them flexible.  

Explaining the relation between lemon and hypertension Dr. Dahiya said, "Lemon has auraptene, a key ingredient that helps hypertension patients. Pectin another component keeps the fat, cholesterol, and sugar in the blood at healthy levels that are linked to the hardening of arteries. Lemon also has flavonoids and vitamin P that strengthen the blood vessels and potassium lowers the blood pressure."

Joint and Muscle Pain: 

Most of us go through joint and muscle pains. Have you ever wondered why? High uric acid levels in the blood is responsible for it. In many cases, this led to gout, a form of arthritis. Uric acid forms sharp crystals that collect in big joints and toes. 

"Lemon juice makes the body alkaline and balances the uric levels. It releases more calcium carbonate which bonds with uric acid to break it into the water and other compounds making the blood less acidic while lowering the uric acid levels. Also, a lack of potassium leads to muscle cramps. Lemon is a rich source of potassium, supports a healthy skeletal muscle function," she explains. 

Pregnancy Health: 

Lemons pack essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that help support a mother's health and foetal development. Deficiency in mother's Vitamin C can hinder foetal brain development, especially the hippocampus which is responsible for memory. Significant levels of flavones in lemons help in building immunity during pregnancy. 

"Folate is another key nutrient in lemon which is extremely essential for pregnant women to prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida and anencephaly. These defects affect the spinal cord and brain and can develop at an early stage of pregnancy," highlights Dr Dahiya.

Skin Care: 

Starlets have long realized the benefits of lemon for skincare. Vitamin C is a key ingredient in most skincare products as it neutralizes free radicals and stimulates the renewal of cells by exfoliating your skin. 

Lemon helps make collagen and elastin, which keeps your skin plump and youthful, without enough collagen, our skin starts to wrinkle. 

Giving some amazing recommendations she said, A sliced lemon used as a facial scrub removes dead skin, age spots, blemishes and stubborn dirt revealing a fresh layer of skin underneath. It's juice acts as the perfect natural antibacterial treatment for acne. Consumption of it regularly makes the skin look radiant while detoxifying the blood."

Hair Care: 

Lemon is a trusted ingredient to battle the common problem of dandruff and hair fall which hamper hair growth. A problem many of us face daily. 

"Lemon juice is rich in phosphorous, magnesium, calcium, folic acid, and vitamin C and B; has anti-fungal properties that fight dandruff and other types of scalp fungal infections. The acidic nature of lemon is effective in cleaning the scalp of dead cells that restrict hair growth," she said.

It does not just strengthen the hair follicles making them long, strong but also helps in reducing hair fall thus being the perfect answer for healthy and voluminous hair. 

Reduces Stress Levels: 

Stress has become part of our day to day life. Did you know that when we get stressed because of our concerns, the body adrenal glands release a hormone known as cortisol? Cortisol is commonly known as the "stress hormone" and is known to many adverse effects on the body like loss of sleep, high blood pressure, and weight gain. 

"Here vitamin C in lemons minimizes the effects of cortisol in our bodies. Lemon balm has a calming effect to remove fatigue, exhaustion, anxiety, nervousness, and tension. One can add a few drops of lemon balm on a handkerchief to inhale when tense, a glass of lemonade at regular intervals further helps in staying relaxed and keeping energy levels high," she suggests.

Having said, Samuel George Blythe, a famous Journalist, and Political Commentator published an apt article in the year 1926 that poetically sums up the magic of Lemon.

"Lemonade (Nimbu Pani) is the panacea for tender feet in the tropics. It is the regulator, the reviver, the protector against fever, the assassin of germs, the foe of tropical acidity, the enemy of rheumatic conditions, the quencher of thirst, the general efficient hygienic handy-man within the body. It is a hygienic policeman that polices the body, paying strict attention to the liver, supplies richly the needed mineral salts, and when burned in the process of digestion leaves alkaline ash that neutralizes the acids that are so copiously the result of tropical living conditions. The lemon is a friend, aid, and companion, and the way to utilize it is in squash."



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