As well as a source of citric acid, lemon contains folate, potassium, and vitamin C. It’s also very low in cholesterol, sodium, and saturated fat, making lemon highly beneficial for your overall health.
But, its ability to neutralize uric acid is what makes lemon juice a great natural remedy for gout, a painful form of arthritis which affects about 13 million Americans (about 4% of the total U.S. population).
Here’s everything you need to know about taking lemon juice for gout, including how it works to help your gout symptoms, and how to take it.
The Causes and Symptoms of Gout
Gout is a painful form of arthritis, caused by a condition known as hyperuricemia, which means that there is excess uric acid in your body.
Your body makes uric acid when it breaks down purines. Purines are one of the by-products of protein digestion and are found in your body and in the foods you eat.
When there is too much uric acid in the body, crystals of uric acid (monosodium urate) can build up in your body’s joints and soft tissues.
Gout is caused by the deposit of needle-like urate crystals in your joints. Gout sufferers experience swelling and pain in joints such as the ankles, knees, feet, wrists, and elbows. Painful flare-ups are often concentrated in the big toe, a symptom known as podagra.
Flare-ups can last a few days when symptoms first start to appear, but often these flare-ups will become progressively longer.
Gout can lead to painful kidney stones, and if left untreated it can cause permanent damage to your joints and kidneys.
How Diet Changes Can Help Gout
Foods high in purines, including alcoholic drinks, soda, and gluten have all been implicated as contributors to gout.
Several vegetables, including tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, have also been linked to gout symptoms. This is because they contain a chemical called solanine, which may trigger joint pain in some people.
It is advisable to eliminate these foods from your diet as a way to avoid future attacks of gout. And, for long-term control of gout symptoms, it is also a good idea to incorporate foods that help to alkalize your body’s pH level.
One such food is lemon juice. Although it seems that an acidic food such as lemon would have the opposite effect, lemon juice has been found to neutralize acids such as uric acid in the body.
Why Is Lemon Juice Good for Gout?
Lemon juice can help with gout attacks in several ways. The three main properties that lemons contain that help to minimize gout attacks are citric acid, vitamin C, and potassium:
1.) Citric Acid
Gout attacks occur when the pH level of your body is lower than pH 7, towards the acidic end of the scale. This condition is called acidosis, and, for gout sufferers, it relates to an excess amount of uric acid in the body.
Studies have shown that citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges, clementines, and tangerines help to dissolve uric acid. This is because the citric acid they contain helps to create or increase calcium carbonate in the body, which then reduces the amount of uric acid.
Lemon juice has the highest concentration of citric acid, with a concentration of between five and six percent. When it comes to the best citrus fruit to help with gout, lemon juice is a clear winner.
The citric acid found in lemon juice also acts as a stimulant for the liver and helps to prevent kidney stones. Kidney stones are a further complication of gout. As well as being very painful, kidney stones can also lead to additional health issues.
2.) Vitamin C
As well as citric acid, lemon juice contains high levels of vitamin C, at around 95 mg per cup.
A 2009 study showed that men were less likely to get gout the more vitamin C they took. This is thought to be because vitamin C protects against gout by lowering serum urate by helping to remove it through the kidneys.
But, while vitamin C intake has been associated with a lower risk of developing gout, there is less evidence to suggest that vitamin C helps people who already have gout. A 2013 study found that vitamin C failed to reduce uric acid levels to a significant degree in patients suffering from gout.
Despite this, the vitamin C in lemon juice has been found to help relieve the pain associated with gout. This is thanks to its ability to heal and maintain healthy blood vessels, tendons, and ligaments.
Lemon juice also contains potassium, with levels of around 250 mg per cup of juice. Studies have shown that potassium citrate helps to reduce acidity in the body.
This is because the potassium in lemon juice contains organic salts, such as malate and citrate. These salts neutralize uric acid by helping your body excrete it through urine.
Potassium also prevents crystals of uric acid forming and helps to dissolve those that have already formed. As a result, the kidneys work more efficiently and kidney stones are less likely to form.
How Do I Take Lemon Juice for Gout?
Eating lemons, in the same way you would eat apples, is a great way to reap the many benefits that lemon juice can offer gout sufferers.
But, for most people, the sour taste of lemons makes them too difficult to eat like this. So here are some easier ways to incorporate lemon juice into your daily diet to help minimize your gout symptoms.
Start Your Day with Lemon Water
Make it a daily habit to consume lemon juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
The simplest way to take lemon juice to help with gout is to squeeze the juice of one or two lemons into a glass of water. The water can be either hot or cold, depending on your preference.
Not only will the lemon juice help to neutralize any uric acid in your system, the water will help to flush excess waste from your kidneys and get your body ready and working for the day.
Taking the lemon juice and water on an empty stomach also protects your stomach from potential foods which may be high in purines.
Drink Lemon Water Throughout the Day
A single glass of lemon water for gout can only decrease uric acid by a low percentage. So, as well as your morning glass of lemon water, you need to consume lemon water throughout the day.
The easiest way to do this is to prepare a pitcher of water with lemon juice and keep it in your fridge.
You can then help yourself to it when you go to the kitchen for a drink. Having it ready-made will make it much more likely that you’ll reach for your lemon water rather than a soda.
And, if you’re trying to lose weight as a way to help with your gout, the water will fill you up and suppress appetite.
Drinking lemon-infused water before you eat will also stop you from mistaking dehydration for hunger.
Add Lemon to Other Drinks
But, remember that you can add lemon juice to anything. Lemon is delicious in iced tea for a refreshing summer drink.
Or try adding a few squeezes or slices of lemon to green tea. This is a great idea as green tea has natural anti-inflammatory properties which can also help with gout symptoms.
Adding lemon and fresh lemon juice to all these different drinks can also help you to consume more liquids than you might usually have done.
Drinking two to three liters of liquid each day is important to help your kidneys flush out excess uric acid and to prevent uric acid crystals forming in your joints.
Lemon Juice on Food
Lemon juice is also great for cooking as a way to help with your gout while also bringing out the flavor of foods such as chicken and green leafy vegetables.
Lemon juice also makes an excellent salad dressing which is both healthy and calorie-free. And, by using lemon juice instead of creamy sugar-loaded dressings, oil, or salt, you can also help to minimize the gout symptoms that some of these foods can cause.
Try Using Lemon Juice to Help with Gout
It’s clear from this guide that lemon juice for gout is a remedy that is both effective and easy to use.
With a few tweaks to your daily habits, you can reduce the pain and swelling of gout attacks and enjoy the added health benefits of drinking lemon water.
Check out our other blogs to find out more about home remedies for gout, or contact us for more information.