If you’re averse to plain water, adding natural flavors may encourage you to drink more. “Most of us walk around in a mild state of dehydration, especially busy people who might be too preoccupied to prioritize sipping,” explains Robin Foroutan, RD, New York City-based integrative dietician. Lemon water's biggest benefits likely come from the fact that the fruit is alkaline-forming, which helps balance acidity in the body. “Consuming more alkaline foods and beverages may reduce the risk of fractures, preserve muscle mass, protect against chronic disease, and improve memory and cognitive function,” Foroutan says. It’s also said to reduce inflammation and, according to experts at The Spa, aid in building and maintaining collagen.

Lemon juice has a pH level of around 2, making it just as acidic as vinegar. The low pH means that sipping on the citrus can wear away at your tooth enamel, upping your risk of cavities and discoloration over time. But when the juice is diluted in water, it’s much less of a concern, says Foroutan. Squeeze the juice into water and the mixture’s pH rises to a less damaging 5 or 6.

An often overlooked concern is that the juice’s acid causes plastic to leach. As a result, you could wind up ingesting more chemical plasticizers, Foroutan explains, which can disrupt hormones. This is particularly problematic if you buy pre-packaged lemon water or squeeze the juice into your reusable plastic bottle.

Lemon water’s benefits outweigh any perceived risks, mostly because of its alkaline properties, experts agree. Use organic lemons whenever possible and clean the skin if you drop slices into your drink. To avoid plastic leaching, mix your own lemon water instead of buying it bottled and use only glass containers. If you’re worried about your enamel, drink from a metal or paper straw or further dilute the mixture.

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