Recently I posted on Instagram a brief statement about wellness goals, beginnings, New Years gym-goers and touched on this celery juice craze started by Anthony William of the Medical Medium. I didn’t think it was anything controversial. In fact, I thought I was basically saying everyone has their own health and wellness journey and we should all honor that because we were (maybe still are) there too. Basically, saying we all have to start somewhere, sometime, right?!?! Oh and please leave me some celery for my salad and such.
Whoa! Let me tell you, I got a lot of comments and interest on the celery juice thing! As I started to write back I got carried away with all the research and realized there’s a very one-sided conversation and information out there, that aren’t all rooted in science. (Note, I do think there’s a nice balance in between things that are backed by evidence and research and doing things from a more gut-instinctual level, more on this later). One of my goals as a nutritionist is to provide education and information, so I wanted to write this article to add to this hot topic in a more evidential and research-based background. I’ve included links to studies I cite and more at the end here, and I also welcome all questions, comments and more here and on Instagram. Just remember, I am human too, so even if it’s a critical question, remember to be kind.
CELERY 101 (aka Facts)
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we.
Celery is part of the Umbelliferae (also known as the Apiaceae) family, which includes fennel, carrots and parsley. It’s a biennial vegetable, meaning it grows on a cycle of once every 2 years. It dates all the way back to the Ancient Greeks when they used the leaves as laurels and decorated their athletes with it and the Ancient Romans used it as a seasoning.
Celery is a highly nutritious food, containing high levels of vitamin c and fiber. It’s a great source of potassium, B vitamins (especially folic acid, B6 and B1) and good levels of calcium and B2. A lot of people know that it’s a high source of sodium, but it is offset by its high amounts of potassium. For example, one stalk contains 32 mg of sodium and 104 mg potassium. So even those that are sensitive to salt don’t need to worry about it. And because of this ratio, it’s also a great post-workout addition to replenish electrolytes lost. It’s also a source of vitamin A and k, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, beta-carotene and phytonutrients. (1)
RESEARCHED BENEFITS OF CELERY
Many studies out there on celery are based on consuming the whole food, celery seed and/or celery extract (a powdered concentrate made in labs),and are done mostly on animals and not many are on humans. There are no comprehensive studies out there on only celery juice to make any real claims.
Here’s what research and studies have backed on celery at this point:
Nitrate-rich vegetables (like and including celery) can widen blood vessels which will help lower blood pressure (2)
Coumarins, a phytochemical compound in celery, are capable of lowering blood pressure, enhancing certain white blood cells, improving the vascular system, and helping with migraines. (3) (4)
Celery is a good source of antioxidants and by definiton we therefore we know it is anti-inflammatory. In a study on rats, it showed that it improved their gut function. (5) There are a few studies on the effects of celery juice plus extracts that show it lowers pro-inflammatory markers. (6) Recent studies are showing that antioxidants, flavonoids and phytonutrients are sometimes associated with reduced cancer risk. Though research here is not definitive. (7) (8) (9)
Celery could contribute to lowered cholesterol by way of the fiber in eating it will bind to excess cholesterol and detoxify your body through bowel elimination. (10)
Celery can have digestive benefits as well by way of the fiber in eating it (1 cup of celery contains around 1.6 grams of fiber, for reference I generally recommend 25-40 grams daily). (11) This will help with bowel movements and detoxification.
Celery is a natural diuretic, meaning it will help reduce water retention by allowing your kidneys to filter it through and eliminate it through urine (note, in larger amounts this can also contribute to diarrhea). Additionally, because celery is also 90-95% water it can be hydrating.
CELERY JUICE & ANTHONY WILLIAM (aka the Medical Medium)
As someone who went to nutrition school and has a BS (pun-intended) degree in mathematics, anyone that claims one specific thing is a “miracle”, in this case, food, and uses those actual terms, raises a red flag in my brain. I don’t think any single food or part of a food can be a cure-all-miracle.
Additionally, did you know he has no nutrition certifications or medical licensing? He doesn’t hide it but I don’t think many know this. This just raises another red flag for me.
A large section of his claims stem around these “undiscovered mineral salts” or “undiscovered cluster salts.” I think it’s curious how he “knows” about these but no one else does, especially since he admits there’s no science behind it. If we don’t know if these “undiscovered salt clusters” exist, then how can they have all these benefits he’s claiming?
There are a lot of holes in his celery “miracle juice” theory. And in general he quotes “research and studies” in his articles with no link to actual studies, which would be fine if I could easily search and find these studies. But I tried, it’s part of why this post was delayed a few days. I searched high and low. Seriously, don’t believe me, please I encourage you to do your own research and share what you find!
A few other main points of his I am not on board with:
Why you must drink it on its own (meaning you can’t add any other fresh juices to it). He says it will dilute its properties. If you drink 16 ounces of celery juice, isn’t that 16 ounces of celery juice? How does “collagen, apple cider vinegar, and activated charcoal to celery juice, but these three items all destroy and denature celery juice“?
Where is the proof that celery juice has “healed and continues to heal millions of people worldwide?
I could not find studies to back how celery could rebuild your hydrochloric acid, increase and strengthen your bile, restore your central nervous system or kill off pathogens like viruses such as Epstein-Barr and Shingles, as well as bacteria such as Streptococcus inside the body right away.” If I am wrong here please comment below with some studies that back these claims up.
One thing we do agree on: “It’s never been more critical to empower yourself to become an expert on the true causes of your symptoms and conditions.” There is a powerful things inside all of us, our innate intuition, that we should all listen to. If you believe something is good for you, please do that thing. But be discerning and honest with yourself along the way.
OTHER MISC THOUGHTS
Celery has been on and of the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen list, due to its exposure to pesticides. So, when you do consume it please buy organic.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine celery is a cooling food and if someone is already runs cold or is yang deficient this may not be the food for them.
And as far as juicing goes, I am not a big fan of juicing, in general. When drink juice, we stripe the fiber out of the fruits and vegetables that cause us to feel full, satisfied and help us detoxify and eliminate well. The American Heart Association says that the intake of fiber in adults in the US is less than half the recommended amount of 25-30 grams daily. Clearly many of us are already lacking the proper fiber in our diet. Additionally, drinking juice, can contain a lot more sugar than we think, just look at the label on any juice in the store. The more fruit in that juice the higher the sugar too. Now, I know there’s not a lot of sugar in celery juice, maybe none, but without the fiber to slow down our digestion, it goes straight to our blood sugar and can cause immediate and long term affects that aren’t in our benefit. These could include cravings in the afternoon, headaches, and more. All that aside, if you get the proper amount of fiber in your diet, have stable blood sugar, drink your juice. If you don’t or aren’t sure, try eating a few nuts with your juice to slow down digestion. It can be a great way to get more nutrients into your diet. But you don’t need to drink juice to be healthy, so do what’s right for you!
My last thoughts on this, if we were meant to consume something in juice form then nature would have made them that way. Nature is pretty cool in that regards.
THE MAIN POINT
Now, with all that said, I am sitting here drinking a cup of coffee. Would I feel “better” if I replaced that cup of coffee with a cup of celery juice? Maybe? Maybe not. At the least, I’d definitely be more hydrated.
My main points:
Don’t blindly follow anyone. Yes, this includes myself! Ask questions all the time.
Yes, there’s an intuitive element to nutrition, health and wellness, and life. So, in the end you do what is good for you and makes you feel great!
Eat your veggies and fruit and you will probably always feel better!
Have you tried the celery juice fad? What were your thoughts?
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