Whats up with celery juice anyway?

If you’ve been on Instagram or certain wellness sites recently, you may have noticed a trend for drinking celery juice.  It is claimed to aid in digestion, be anti-inflammatory, cure chronic pain and clear up skin conditions. That’s quite a lot of powerful properties from one single juiced vegetable. So where has this trend come from? Anthony Williams, also known as “the medical medium” claims to have started the movement, recommending consuming some 16 oz (that’s nearly half a litre) of the juice first thing every morning. On his website, Williams uses a lot of jargon, sensationalist language and makes continual selling points back to his books. It makes for a persuasive, yet somewhat confusing read, with the most readers likely to be overwhelmed by the information. I know I was! Many well-known figures in the wellness world have got involved with the trend and the popularity of celery juice has ballooned. There’s now nearly 40 000 posts on Instagram using the hashtag #celeryjuice. 

Gut-healing wonder juice or a bitter pill to swallow?

Although there are studies showing health benefits of celery, they are often individual studies, or research performed on rats rather than humans. The amount of celery that gerbils consumed in a study that linked apigenin in celery with reduction in stomach inflammation equated to some three and a half cups in human portions. For reference, a large bunch of celery is around four cups when whole, and will make roughly the recommended 16 oz.  So in theory, consuming a large amount of celery juice could provide benefits if A. those benefits definitely exist and B. you weren’t going to eat that amount of whole celery. Apigenin is a common flavonoid also found in parsley and many other fruits and vegetables, which arguably could offer the same benefits just by consuming a variety of them. However, with there being very few human studies on the benefits of celery it isn’t possible to prove this connection, or to prescribe a specific amount of celery to consume for any benefit -one extrapolated figure from a single study isn’t nearly enough to base recommendations on. Additionally, celery is an allergen, and so can be very unhealthy for certain people, including those sensitive to sunlight.

Some bloggers claim that celery juice kills bad bacteria, yeast and fungi, and can cure cravings. I haven’t found any evidence beyond anecdotal to back this up, nor has any dietician or nutritionist that I know of. 

Is drinking celery juice safe?

Registered nutritionist Sarah Jackson points out another potential issue with juicing celery: “when fruit and vegetables are juiced you lose some of the fibre which can benefit our gut health. In the UK we are currently not meeting our recommended 30g per day and with the benefits of fibre outweighing a celery juice it would be a lot more beneficial to start the day with a more wholesome, varied breakfast. There is lots of exciting research being carried out in gut health however, for the moment the British Dietetic Association (BDA) highlight some of the benefits when increasing your fibre intake to 30g per day:

  • Lowers your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colorectal cancer.
  • Treats or prevent constipation, make stools softer and easier to pass
  • Helps lower a high blood cholesterol level or high blood pressure” -pretty ironic when celery juice is supposed to lower blood pressure!

In general, juice consumption is recommended to be limited to 150ml due to the lack of fibre and high sugar content. Celery juice has the advantage of being low in sugar, so drinking a large volume shouldn’t have too much of an impact in that respect. Of course, this does mean that the juice tastes pretty bitter, a far cry from a zesty green juice filled with pineapple and milder green vegetables.

Sarah adds “other claims about celery juice including that it is both highly hydrating and alkaline. Our body and blood is always alkaline and nothing we eat will drastically change the pH of our blood so again, the human body has this covered, no need to rely on celery juice for this!”

The bottom line

If you are on medications, it is always a good idea to check in with your doctor before consuming anything in large quantities in case it interferes with the drugs you are taking. In general, there is no harm in consuming celery juice. You’ll get a decent variety of nutrients and antioxidants, although you’ll need more variety from other (ideally whole) vegetables to get your five a day in. However, don’t be surprised if you don’t see the miracles that others claim to have experienced. 

Disclaimer: Whilst I sought to get the best possible information for this post, please note that I am not a registered health professional. This article is designed to inform, but you should always look to get your nutritional information from a dietician, registered nutritionist (that’s someone with a degree rather than an unregistered course) or doctor specialising in nutritional science.

The delicious vegetable juice (not just celery!) in this post is sadly in a single use container and paper straw as I’m on the hunt for a reusable juice cup. All materials were recycled, but do send me your eco cup recommendations!

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