My goal is #WTFWednesday is to provide information + guidance regarding health + wellness topics of interest, so that you can then do more research for yourself. For most of these topics, I wouldn’t consider myself a full-on “expert” - but I have familiarized myself enough with the basics to talk intelligently about the topic and to know where to look (or to look at all!) for more information. I’m always interested in hearing your personal experience or opinions based on your own research.
If you've been following along so far with my #WTFWednesday series, you probably realize I like to stay on the pulse of what's currently trending in health + wellness. Sooner or later, the apparently life-changing trend of drinking straight celery juice was going to come up.
First, let me say - I firmly believe that the food you eat either makes you “more healthy” or “less healthy” (a concept I first saw articulated by the Whole 30); this occurs of course physiologically (e.g. weight loss/gain/maintenance, blood sugar, cholesterol), but also in terms of your immune system and your psychological/emotional health.
Nature is wise and foods can have some pretty amazing healing properties. BUT, when ONE THING is touted as an all-out panacea, without any research (unlike say, Turmeric), that’s when I get concerned. Instead of focusing on this ONE THING, focus on not only your diet, but your overall lifestyle. Celery juice isn’t going to save you from binge drinking on the weekends and ordering takeout 4 nights a week.
Second, in most cases, celery juice isn’t going to cause any negative side effects (although there are a couple of special circumstances I'll cover). It’s not going to harm you, unlike other wellness trends could potentially. So, if you are chugging your celery juice every morning, feel like it's giving you energy/keeping you regular/making your skin glow/whatever, keep doing you!
Finally, I’m a fan of (safely) self-experimenting. This is pretty much why I do #WTFWednesday - to provide you with facts + information so you can make informed decisions. So, if you’ve done your research, are dealing with something you think celery juice might help, and it doesn’t cause you added stress or take away from other healthy habits, then give it a try!
OK BUT SERIOUSLY: WHY IS EVERYONE DRINKING CELERY JUICE
The celery juice trend was popularized by the “Medical Medium” (aka Anthony Williams), who has apparently be recommending it since the 1970s. Despite his moniker, he has no formal medical training - or any training to speak of. He "hears" what’s wrong with people via "Compassionate Spirit" - and he is the only man alive that can do this. Ok, then.
According to Williams:
“Celery juice is alkalizing, enzyme-rich, electrolyte-enhancing, liver-repairing, blood-sugar-balancing, antiseptic, and more."
"If people knew all the potent healing properties of celery juice, it would be widely hailed as a miraculous superfood. Celery has an incredible ability to create sweeping improvements for all kinds of health issues. Celery is truly the savior when it comes to chronic illness. I’ve seen thousands of people who suffer from chronic and mystery illness restore their health by drinking 16 ounces of celery juice daily on an empty stomach.”
Those are some serious claims about a skinny little vegetable (or rather, about its juice).
Let be be clear: not everything he says is flat-out wrong. In fact, he references or alludes to many well-accepted scientific facts, like how HCl (hydrochloric acid) is needed for digestion.
However, "although science hasn’t discovered this yet” (or a close approximation) is maybe his favorite phrase. To a certain extent, I agree; the medical community is often behind on the latest research and instead adheres to now-debunked dogma (see: eggs + cholesterol for MOST people, the "dangers" of all forms of dietary fat, etc.). Not to mention that the pharmaceutical industry (read: industry) doesn't have everyone’s best interests in mind when producing + marketing drugs. But, how is it that this guy knows EVERYTHING and science + medicine know nothing?
Oh, right. The Compassionate Spirit.
Anyway, the Medical Medium makes a laundry list of claims as to the amazing properties of celery juice + all of the ailments it can supposedly cure; a few for your reference:
rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS)
irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
restless leg syndrome
obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
difficulty with focus and concentration
Is it just me, or is this starting to sound like an Episode of House, M.D.?
Image credit: IMDB
Williams asserts that the tonic strengthens digestion, has anti-inflammatory properties (“perfect for reversing inflammation, because it starves the pathogens, including unproductive bacteria and viruses such as Epstein-Barr (EBV), that create it"), and "contains a multitude of undiscovered mineral salts that act together as an antiseptic."
I think I've made my point; the list of supposed benefits goes on and on. And while it's enticing to think something as simple as celery juice could really be such a cure-all, common sense should tell you otherwise.
HOW-TO CELERY JUICE
Yes, believe it or not, there is a "right" way and a "wrong" way to drink celery juice. (I'm probably more in the camp of "in your Bloody Mary.")
Just celery juice - no other veggies/fruits
On an empty stomach - nothing before
Don’t eat/drink for 15 minutes after
16 oz (2 cups)
Every day, forever + ever
Just check the currently 81,000+ posts on Instagram for #celeryjuice - it seems like everyone is doing it! But not necessarily loving it, because it's an acquired taste + a pain in the you-know-what to make.
BENEFITS OF CELERY
None of this is to say that celery ISN'T good for you; quite the contrary. While kale + cauliflower have been getting all the love, little ol' celery packs its own nutritional punch:
All nutrition information based on 1 cup of celery juice; if you drink the recommended 16oz, you hypothetically get twice as much. I've included some of the RDIs (recommended daily intakes) for vitamins + minerals that are especially prevalent in celery.
215mg sodium + 670 mg potassium (4,700mg RDI) → electrolytes
vitamins A + K (but they need fat for proper absorption!)
16% RDI B6
10% RDI Calcium
9% Vitamin A
also: beta carotene, iron, magnesium, phosphorus
Flavonoids (antioxidants) → anti-inflammatory, protective against chronic disease and oxidative stress
Fiber, depending on method of juicing
Image + Nutrition info credit: verywellfit
Believe it or not, there are actual studies about the potential health benefits of celery (whole celery or seeds, specifically):
Studies suggest that celery seeds do have anti-hypertensive properties (see here and here) - so they may be beneficial for lowering blood pressure
Celery has powerful antioxidant characteristics to remove free radicals in the body. Consuming antioxidant foods (like fruits + veggies) potentially decreases risks of getting cancer.
According to Parsley Health (aka, my doctor):"In addition to its [sic] anti-oxidative properties, celery can prevent cardiovascular diseases, jaundice, liver disease, urinary tract obstruction, gout, and rheumatic disorders. Celery can even reduce blood sugar levels, blood lipids, and blood pressure. Experimental studies show that celery has antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. Celery seeds have even been used in the treatment of skin conditions including psoriasis, and respiratory diseases including asthma and bronchitis."
CONS OF DRINKING CELERY JUICE
Other than (or perhaps, in addition to) the fact that drinking celery juice is not, in fact, a cure all, there are a few other reasons I think that hopping on this trend is not worth it:
It's time-consuming (if you make it yourself)
It's a waste of food/money (SO MUCH CELERY goes into 16oz of juice!)
As with other forms of juicing, you are missing out on the fiber of the pulp (which is essential for digestion and ACTUALLY “sweeps out toxins”. (Literally, poop is one of the ways your body eliminates toxins.)
Satiety (fiber/chewing helps you register fullness)
Annoying to clean a juicer
Really should be organic; celery is 10/12 on the EWG Dirty Dozen list
Pro and/or con: it might get you to be obsessive (HAVE to do every day, is it working?, why isn't it working?...)
As I mentioned, celery juice is totally safe for most people, but be sure to check with your doctor if you have to worry about excess vitamin K (blood thinners/clotting disorders, low blood sugar)
WHY I THINK CELERY JUICE CAN "WORK"
As I mentioned, to each their own. If you have been on the celery juice train and feel like it's doing you good, keep it up! Here are some of the reasons why I think partakers might notice benefits:
You may be “crowding out” something less healthy (coffee first thing)
It's definitely hydrating (mostly water plus some vitamins + minerals)
The simple act of taking the time to do something for yourself that you perceive to be beneficial is a form of self-care. (It doesn’t count if you spend $9 to get it at a local juice bar.)
By performing this healthy habit, it might inspire you to do other health-supportive things, like have a well-balanced breakfast, or take that workout class you’ve been skipping.
The placebo effect: if you believe it’s working, it can work. You start to think you are a healthy person (and again, then you do more health-supportive things). But the mind is also very powerful; if stress has caused you to be constipated and have skin rashes, but you think celery juice is the best thing ever and that it’s working… it can work.
As for people with chronic conditions, especially autoimmune-related: I understand how incredibly frustrating and painful it can be. Autoimmune conditions are indeed under-researched, the treatments are often ineffective at best, and cause even more problems at worse. Diet can absolutely play a role in mitigating symptoms, and yes, it can help to focus on “anti-inflammatory” foods.
So I'd love to hear from you - are you pro-celery juice? What benefits have you experienced? Have you tried it and given up? Leave me a comment!
If you'd like to hear a bit more of the conversation about celery juice, or some of my personal thoughts, check out this video of my Instagram Live chat. Note that the first couple of minutes are always me just saying hi and giving people a chance to hop on and ask questions, so you can fast forward to the good stuff:
All content presented is for informational + educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition, as well as when starting any new supplement or medication, "natural" or otherwise.