I’ve been talking a great deal in the last several weeks about the problems of toxin build-up, toxins and chemicals in our diets, poor digestive health and inflammation. All of these things have a profound effect not only on our overall health, but also on our bodybuilding efforts.
The Daily Assault on Our Bodies
Our bodies are inundated from every direction on a daily basis by elements that compromise both our immune systems and our digestive systems. Environmental toxins and oxidative stress create an imbalance in the number of free radicals running around in our bodies causing lowered immunity, inflammation and hormonal problems, including an excess of cortisol in our bloodstreams.
Pesticides and herbicides in our foods are at an all-time high. Grains are heavily sprayed. They go not only into the breads and cereals and pastas we eat, but also into the cows from which we get our dairy products and the animals that produce steaks, chops and chicken breasts. Commercially grown fruits and vegetables are also heavily treated with pesticides and herbicides that cannot be washed away. All of these toxins build up in our digestive tracts, making it impossible for us to absorb the nutrients we eat.
Antibiotics that are fed to cows and chickens and other livestock come to us through their meat and milk products. These antibiotics kill off the good gut bacteria that we need to protect ourselves from disease, infection and parasites and reduce inflammation throughout our bodies.
Today I want to share with you one extremely important thing that you must do each day to help you combat all of these issues, greatly improving your general health and also boosting your muscle-gaining and fat loss ability. That one thing is drinking lemon water every morning.
Why Lemon Juice is So Important
Fresh vegetables and fruits are like wholesome, natural prescription medications. Each of them contains several micronutrients that address specific issues within our bodies. By combining certain vegetables and fruits, you can create a cocktail that specifically addresses your health and bodybuilding needs.
Lemons are one of the best plant foods for cleansing your body of toxins, boosting your immunity, creating a more alkaline state, increasing testosterone production, improving metabolism and repairing your digestive system, making them invaluable to bodybuilders.
Lemons and the Immune System
The immune systems of most Westerners are severely compromised. This results not only in more cancer, infection and illness, but in widespread inflammation throughout our bodies as they try to fight off all of the toxins, bacteria and other threats they’re facing. Inflammation is at the root of many serious diseases, such as heart disease, but also gets in the way of muscle recovery and muscle-building.
Lemons are loaded with Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, limonene, citric acid and magnesium, all of which are powerful weapons for our immune systems. Many of these antioxidants are not stored in large quantities in our bodies; we have to ingest them on a daily basis in order to have enough of a supply on board.
Vitamin C is one of the most important of these. Vitamin C is used to build new cells and repair damaged tissue, which makes it one of the most important micronutrients for muscle-building. However, our immune systems will first use what Vitamin C it has to fight free radicals, infection and toxins, apportioning what’s leftover to repair and build muscle tissue. You have to get a heavy dose of it on a daily basis and the Vitamin C in whole fruits and vegetables is much more bio-available than the stuff you get in tablets.
Vitamin C is also extremely important to fat-burning. It not only reduces the effects of stress (lowering cortisol) but also is used to create l-carnitine, the compound that carries stored fat to the liver, where it can be turned back into glycogen and burned as energy.
By getting all of the antioxidants from lemons, you also reduce overall inflammation because your body has less infection and fewer pathogens to respond to. This further improves muscle recovery times.
Lemons and the Digestive System
If your digestive system is compromised by impaired liver function and toxin buildup, you’re not absorbing all of the nutrients you are eating and you are storing more fat than you should be.
Lemons are one of the most effective foods at helping to cleanse the liver. This accomplishes several things. First, more toxins are filtered out by the liver instead of building up in your digestive tract. Second, the liver is where protein, carbs and fats are broken down into glycogen and stored to be used as fuel. Slowed liver function means a slower metabolism. Also, by cleansing the liver, lemons help improve your liver’s production of bile. Bile is what breaks down dietary fats so that they can be turned into fuel rather than stored around your liver and abdominal area. You’re able to burn more fat, store less of it, and also absorb more of the micronutrients you need to be healthy, build muscle and burn the stored fat you already have.
Lemons and Testosterone
Your liver is responsible for producing testosterone. Compromised liver function means less testosterone and decreased muscle gains. Increasing testosterone production is a very hot topic right now, with all kinds of products swearing they will raise testosterone levels. Articles are being written that tell you a whole list of things you can do to increase testosterone. The simple truth is that the best thing you can do to increase testosterone production is cleanse the organ that produces it!
Lemons and Alkalinity
If you read anything at all on bodybuilding nutrition, you have read about acid/alkaline states and how they affect the body. Alkaline diets are all over the bookstores, magazines and the internet, all promising to correct the highly acidic state caused by poor nutrition. A pH imbalance on the acidic side has a whole host of effects on the body, but several of them are of particular importance to bodybuilders.
Being in an acidic state slows metabolism, causes the body to “steal” calcium, magnesium and potassium from our organs and muscle tissue, slows muscle recovery, creates lactic acid buildup and decreases the amount of oxygen delivered to your muscle tissue.
People think of lemons as being very acidic, but they are actually one of the best foods for increasing alkalinity in the body. The calcium, magnesium and potassium in lemons actually help to alkalize the blood.
How to Harness the Power of Lemon
Now that you know why lemons are so valuable, let’s talk about how to get them working for you.
The very best thing you can do is to drink a glass of warm or room temperature lemon water first thing in the morning. Your liver has been working overtime while you slept and is ready for a good cleansing. Getting your lemon juice first thing in the morning also boosts your energy level and your metabolism.
To make your lemon water, simply squeeze the juice of one half of a large or a whole medium lemon into a glass of room temperature or warm water (This is easier on your digestive system than cold water). Try to drink your lemon water as soon as you get up and at least 20 minutes before eating or consuming your greens drink or juice. A good routine is to drink your lemon juice, then take your shower and dress, then get your greens drink, followed by your breakfast. If these are too many steps, just include your lemon with your greens drink, followed by your breakfast.
You can also get more lemon power throughout the day. Don’t throw out that lemon peel. It contains a large amount of the vitamins and minerals of the lemon. Get the zest from it before you squeeze it and pop it into a plastic bag or small jar. Add the zest to salads, fish, chicken, vinaigrette’s or juices throughout the day to get even more of the benefits from lemons.
One important note: Buy organic lemons! This is especially true if you’re going to use the zest, but still important if you’re not. Pesticides and herbicides penetrate the porous skin of citrus fruits, so they’re in the fruit even if you peel it. What’s the point of trying to rid your body of toxins with a food that contains more toxins? Organic lemons are still pretty cheap; they really don’t cost much more than commercial versions.
See and Feel the Benefits of Lemon Very Quickly
Within the first couple of days of drinking your morning lemon water, you will notice increased energy, easier bowel movements (and probably an increase in volume), lighter urine (from better liver function) and less muscle soreness during recovery.
Within a couple of weeks, you will feel lighter and cleaner, feel less sluggish after eating meats or fattier foods, experience even greater energy and start to see increased fat loss, decreased recovery time and improved gains. All of this from something that will cost you pennies a day and take only a few seconds to do. The return on investment doesn’t get much better than that.
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