Swetha Pradeep (26) from Ooty, Tamil Nadu, lived a sedentary lifestyle during her college days. She consumed junk foods that made her gain weight. “I would skip my hostel meals as I missed home-cooked food, and resort to eating junk every time I was hungry,” she told Happiest Health.
Eventually, obesity began to affect Pradeep’s self-esteem. A naturopath advised her to follow a diet plan that included fruit juices and vegetable salads.
During her weight loss journey, she consumed a glass of warm lemon water early in the morning. In the initial days, it helped her lose 3 to 4kg a month. After 6 months of rigorously following the diet, she is now a healthier version of herself. Moreover, she practises surya namaskara (sun salutations) regularly to stay fit and energetic throughout the day.
Weight loss and citrus fruits
Experts say that the antioxidants present in citrus fruits help in weight loss as they boost the body’s metabolism.
“A mixture of lemon juice, honey, and warm water helps manage obesity. It should be consumed early in the morning on an empty stomach for better results,” says Dr Bibha Sharma, a naturopath from Himachal Pradesh.
Lemon juice helps to overcome migraines and headaches, she adds.
Benefits for heart
A 2021 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition states that hesperidin (a type of plant pigment) found in oranges helps in managing systolic blood pressure. In the study, 159 participants were divided into groups, with one group given natural orange juice, and the other hesperidin-enriched orange juice.
After 12 weeks, researchers found that there was a decrease in systolic blood pressure in mild hypertensive individuals from both the groups. In addition, decreased systolic blood pressure reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke.
Lemons are a rich source of potassium, manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B2. Besides their fragrance and bright colour, lemons can be used to season vegetable salads instead of salt. One can also drink lemon tea to get the flavour.
During winters, one is prone to respiratory infections. “Vitamin C content in citrus fruits helps in improving immunity and preventing infections like the common cold,” says Dr Saranya Mayadevi, a naturopathic nutritionist from the United Arab Emirates.
She adds that lemon juice mixed with honey and hot water helps in improving the texture of the skin.
Benefits of vitamin C
Whole fruits like gooseberry (amla) and orange or orange juice are effective in the management of diabetes, says Dr Sharma. Those with diabetes should mix one glass of juice with one glass of warm water to keep the blood glucose level in control.
Individuals with vitamin C deficiency experience anaemia and bleeding gums. Dr Sharma says that ascorbic acid (present in citrus fruits) facilitates the absorption of iron in the body. Hence, those with iron-deficiency anaemia should consume citrus fruits daily.
Gooseberries are rich in vitamin C and can be consumed as fresh fruit, dry fruit, or juice. A pinch of rock salt or black salt can be added to the gooseberry juice instead of sugar.
A study published in 2013 by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that higher consumption of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits, and green leafy vegetables lower the risk of cardiovascular heart disorders.
Experts say that frequent consumption of orange juices increases urine production thereby reducing the chances of kidney stone formation.
Also read about the naturopathic approach to manage kidney stones here.
Good source of fibre
“Orange juices contain high amount of fibre and aids in digestion. It helps to overcome constipation too, Dr Sharma adds.”
Pectin (a type of fibre) found in citrus fruits helps in reducing LDL cholesterol. A study published in 2016 shows that the consumption of fibre-rich foods reduces lipid and triglyceride levels in the body.
Experts say that consumption of dietary soluble fibres has been associated with health benefits such as reduced lipid levels, low blood pressure, improved blood glucose control, weight loss, improved immune function, and reduced inflammation.
Another study published in 2016 shows that citrus fruits are high in flavonoids (a pigment found in plants), which help to prevent neurodegenerative conditions. The antioxidant properties of flavonoids aid in protecting the nervous system against degeneration.
Who should avoid?
According to naturopaths, the following group should avoid citrus fruits:
- Those with acne during puberty
- People with ulcerative colitis (a condition leading to inflammation of colon), as it may trigger ulceration and cause discomfort
- People with psoriasis may experience allergic reactions or inflammation
- Those with gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) should limit their intake of orange juice as it worsens the condition
Increased consumption of citric fruit juices leads to the erosion of enamel in the teeth and cause sensitivity. Diluting the juice with water may prevent enamel damage to some extent.