The throat scratches, the nose tingles and a cough appears: many people like to drink a hot lemon. But does it actually shorten the healing process?
Especially if your throat is irritated, hot drinks have a calming effect and can provide relief. In contrast to conventional teas, hot lemon supplies the body with additional vitamins. A nutritionist explains how the hot drink actually helps with a cold and what lemon can really do.
Hot lemon as a home remedy for a cold
A large cup of hot water with the juice of half a squeezed lemon is a popular home remedy for colds. The so-called “hot lemon” is said to have a high content of vitamin C, which is said to help cure cold symptoms more quickly.
“Even if there is currently no scientific evidence that a hot lemon can help a cold go away more quickly, many people find the warm drink to be beneficial, warming and symptom-relieving when it comes to cold symptoms,” says Silke Restemeyer, a qualified ecothrophologist in the public relations department of the German Society for Colds Nutrition e. V. (DGE).
Why hot lemon is so good
Drinking is important when you have a cold. If the mucous membranes are well moistened, they are better able to defend themselves against pathogens. The secretion formation in the nose and throat is supported. Pathogens are transported away via the secretion. In addition, good fluid intake ensures that the mucus that forms does not solidify too much and, for example, clog the sinuses.
“A warm drink promotes blood circulation in the mucous membranes in the throat, mouth and throat. This supports the immune system. Drinking can also temporarily relieve both the scratchy throat and the urge to cough,” says Restemeyer. “It actually matters less what you drink. What is important is that you drink. This can be a hot lemon, herbal tea or just warm water. We recommend a daily fluid intake of around 1.5 liters.”
Is hot lemon a vitamin C bomb?
It’s true that lemons contain plenty of vitamin C: around 50 milligrams of vitamin C per 100 grams. The recommended intake for an adult is 110 milligrams of vitamin C per day for men and 95 milligrams for women. Pregnant and breastfeeding women have higher needs.
The recommended intake for pregnant women is 105 milligrams per day and for breastfeeding women it is 125 milligrams per day.
Does hot lemon help acutely against colds?
A good intake of vitamin C supports the immune system. However, it has not been scientifically confirmed that vitamin C accelerates the healing of a cold. Adequate vitamin intake probably helps primarily preventively and less acutely.
“Vitamin C has an antioxidant effect. It intercepts harmful compounds such as free radicals and reactive oxygen species and thus protects the cells and molecules in the body from damage. In general, make sure you have a good supply of vitamins and include lots of fresh vegetables, salads and fruit in your diet.” , advises Restemeyer.
“Supplying the body with extra vitamin C when you have a cold certainly doesn’t hurt. However, when preparing the hot lemon, you should make sure that you do not add the lemon juice to boiling water and that the water is at a comfortable drinking temperature. Heat destroys the vitamin C – and also irritates the mucous membranes unnecessarily.”
Honey in hot lemon: balm for the throat
To improve the sour taste of the hot lemon, you can stir in a teaspoon of honey. The honey not only gives the drink a pleasant sweetness, but also acts like a balm on the mucous membranes in the throat. Honey also contains anti-inflammatory agents. But the same applies to honey: heat destroys it. “Do not heat the honey above 40 degrees,” advises the nutrition expert. “The hot lemon is actually most beneficial if you drink it lukewarm.”
Peppers have more vitamin C than lemons
What many people don’t know: peppers have significantly more vitamin C than lemons. There are around 140 milligrams in 100 grams of pepper. “With half a red pepper and a small glass of orange juice, you are already providing your body with more than 155 milligrams of vitamin C,” says Restemeyer.
Sea buckthorn berries (juice), black currants and parsley are also rich in vitamin C. According to the DGE, due to the high vitamin C content and the amount consumed, potatoes, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes and citrus fruits are particularly important for vitamin C supply.
Hot lemon too sour? Soup works too
If the hot lemon is too sour for you, or if it even irritates your sore throat: soup is a good alternative. Soups also warm you pleasantly and provide the body with plenty of fluids. Vegetable and chicken soup, for example, are also easy to digest and are not heavy on the stomach – which is nice when you are in bed and have less appetite due to a cold.“In addition, soups compensate well for the loss of minerals caused by increased sweating when you have a cold,” says Restemeyer. “The ingredients of chicken soup, for example, contain nutrients that can strengthen the immune system. This starts with chicken meat with its high zinc content and continues with classic vegetables such as leeks, celery, carrots and onions. The vegetables provide vitamin K, beta-carotene and secondary Plant substances.”If you finish the soup with curly parsley, you add an extra portion of vitamin C.