Today, there is a strong inspiration in the air stemming from a very special fruit, lemons. As they wiz through my brain I’m drawn to the smell of freshly sliced lemon, and think of how much I love that sour sweet surprise. Descriptive thoughts like, purifying, cleansing, and detoxifying come to mind when I think about this vitamin C packed citrus fruit. It isn’t just me that enjoys lemon, but also many prepared dishes made from fish, chicken, beverages, salads and even cakes, candies. I prefer to stick with the basics, and enjoy lemon in its natural form. Whether it’s squeezing or zesting, juicing or cleaning. Why not take some time and stop to smell the lemons? Smelling lemon essential oils is a form of aroma therapy, and is another versatile method of using this fruit for your health. Using lemon in homemade cleaning solutions is a great way to sanitize the home. What is it about lemons, and why are they calling to me 8:00am?
Let’s talk nutrition for a moment. There are many nutrients found in fruits and vegetables, some of which include antioxidants. Antioxidants have become quite the buzz word in the last 10 years. However, there are many nutrients that fall under the category of antioxidants. One type of antioxidant (coincidentally found in lemons) is flavonoids (also called bioflavonoids).
What do we really need to know about lemons, antioxidants, and flavonoids? A lot.
Take a moment to think about the following three words …toxic, pollutant, stress. Next, think about how you might relate those three key words to: cigarettes, pollution, excess time spent in the sun, anxiety, exhaustion, and fast-food or heavily processed foods. Each of these words and scenarios may not strike you the same way. Regardless of how you may relate, each one has a similar effect on our body. That is, each word, and each scenario, causes damage to cells that would otherwise be considered healthy. Think of a single damaged cell as an inner tube that has been punctured. Our cells should be firm, and symmetrically rounded, but damaged cells look deflated, and uneven.
These “broken cells” need to be repaired in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Without proper repairing, illness and disease can flourish. Ailments like catching a cold or contracting the flu can occur. Potentially serious conditions of unrepaired cells can be seen through increases in bad cholesterol, heart complications, and even cancer. Antioxidant support is crucial to fixing these broken cells in order to gain health. In the medical-nutrition world, broken or damaged cells, caused by toxins, stress, pollution, and more, are called free-radicals. The good news is we have healthy, natural solutions to help combat free-radicals.
What do antioxidants, flavonoids, and free-radicals have to do with lemons?
Lemons contain antioxidants such as flavonoids, and vitamin C. They are also a natural antibacterial agent because they are slightly acidic. Although lemons are acidic in nature, they do not cause acid to form in the body, rather they are converted to an alkalizing substance (and this is a good thing, we do not want to become too acidic)! Since lemons have the basic properties of being slightly acidic, as well as, housing vitamin C, and flavonoids, amongst other nutrients, lemons are a great addition to our diet. The following is a short list of potential benefits that lemons have been linked to. Everything in moderation, of course.
-The skin to purify through its antimicrobial properties.
-Aid in digestion and elimination (bowel movement) because of their cleansing abilities.
-Stave off depression due to flavonoids.
-May help to stave off H.pylori (an ulcer causing bacteria found in the stomach lining).
-The flavonoids help to reduce inflammation in the body by acting as a natural antibiotic.
-To make a great deep cleansing facial mask as impurities are zapped.
-To lower LDL (unhealthy) cholesterol.
-To boost the immune system partly because of the vitamin C content.
Please keep in mind that no information listed is meant to treat, diagnose or cure. It is important to keep in mind any prescription medications or health concerns that may be apart of your lifestyle. Certain natural foods must be avoided with specific health concerns, such as, taking blood thinners. Although fresh, natural foods grown from our earth are a wonderful addition to a healthy diet, everything should be consumed within moderation. Variety over quantity is key. It would be a shame to miss out on the health benefits from a different food item because you are replacing it with large quantities of another.
We’ll continue the discussion of lemons, along with a new topic in the week to come. Thoughts on lemon as a cleanser and essential oil use are on its way.
When life hands you lemons, squeeze them, and enjoy the gift of health they so fruitfully give to us.
Photo courtesy of http://www.kaboose.com