Scroll through the hundreds of thousands of #celeryjuicebenefits posts on Instagram and you’ll soon realize that celery juicing has transcended health-fad status. Made popular by the influential wellness warrior Gwyneth Paltrow and celery-juice guru Anthony William aka the ‘Medical Medium’ who, guided by the knowledge of a spirit (bear with us), claims a daily celery juice is a miraculous healthy elixir that wards off all manner of ailments. And the anecdotes are impressive: clearer skin, better gut health, a flatter stomach, more energy, and even soothing eczema and arthritic pains.
But what exactly is the science behind the green stuff? “There is little to no science at all behind celery juicing,” says nutritionist Eve Kalinik. “Celery juice is mostly just water, and claiming that it has the ability to kill off diseases and pathogens is dangerous thinking.” Texan-based dietician Ali Miller agrees and suggests “sticking to eating – not juicing – celery, broccoli, sprouts and cabbage, all which are far more potent detoxifiers”. So, if there are no facts behind it, why is it so popular? I tried it out for myself for a month, with some interesting results…
First things first: be prepared to buy a lot of celery, and I mean a lot. You average a bunch a day (roughly five or six stalks) to get a glass of celery juice and you’re left with a mountain of pulp, which I ended up putting in my garden as compost. The taste is much like you would expect: savoury and slightly bitter (I found organic celery less bitter than regular). I went straight into having a full glass every morning, on an empty stomach, but soon found I was having waves of nausea, so I suggest starting off with half a cup and building up to a full glass after a week or so.
While it makes a good replacement for coffee – on some days I added lemon and cayenne to make the tonic more energizing – the lack of fiber (juicing removes the fibrous pulp) means it doesn’t fill you up in any way. And after a month, I didn’t notice too much of a change. My gut has always been fine, I already eat a healthy diet and my skin didn’t look noticeably plumper or hydrated, one of the most common claims for this type of juicing.
You are naturally upping your daily water intake, which can only be a good thing, and you’re likely swapping your high-sugar fruit breakfast smoothie for something low in sodium and sugar and high in minerals and vitamins including K, A, potassium and folate, all which are anti-inflammatory. And while there is emerging research on celery juice aiding inflammatory ailments such as arthritis, the jury, at this stage, is still out.
Though it will increase your vitamin intake, celery should also come with a disclaimer. Miller warns that an excess of raw celery can increase the sensitivity of the skin, particularly to UV damage, and if your blood pressure is low, it could possibly reduce it further. “Many people are sensitive to celery so if you’re looking to incorporate it in your diet, take it slow. If you start getting an itchy tongue or notice any swelling, stop drinking it immediately.”
Celery juicing is perfectly fine to incorporate in your diet and can be a great alternative to cold-pressed juices that are high in fructose sugar. But don’t dismiss fiber-rich vegetables such as broccoli, collard greens, lentils and kale that you actually chew, will fill you up because they are nutrient-dense, and will help more with the detoxifying process. And realistically, if you’re eating a varied diet you’re likely getting your essential vitamins and minerals from whole foods, so celery juicing ultimately won’t do that much for you.
Danielle Fox is a registered nutritionist
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