As a functional medicine doctor, I’m obsessed with the wonderful world of the microbiome. I’ve explored things like histamine intolerance, SIBO, leaky gut syndrome, and the science of how long it takes to heal the gut like others talk about fantasy football or the Kardashians.
Which brings me to a question that many patients have asked: Which is better for gut health, lemon water or apple cider vinegar? They’re both gut superstars, but they have very different drawbacks and benefits. Let’s settle the debate, once and for all.
Lemons contain ample amounts of vitamin C, phytonutrients, and fiber and that give them a number of different benefits for supporting gut health. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can help lower gut inflammation and boost the immune system. Your gut is home to about 75 percent of your immune system! Vitamin C is also a natural antimicrobial, working as a natural balancer of the bacteria in the microbiome.
Lemons are also high in pectin, a kind of fiber that acts as food for your gut bugs, promoting healthy gut bacteria balance and growth. Many studies have shown that certain fibers like those in lemons stimulate the growth of beneficial probiotics in the microbiome like bifidobacterium.
This whole-food fusion of vitamin C, phytonutrients, and prebiotic fiber also lends itself to leave the drinker with a cleansing-like effect, especially when drank first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
How to get the most bang for your gut:
To really get the full positive impact for your digestive system, I suggest not just using the lemon juice by itself. Mix as much of the pulp as you can with the lemon juice in your morning warm (not hot, as that denatures the vitamin C) or cold water. The pectin fiber and other phytonutrients are found in the lemon pulp.