Does the celery juice challenge work?
Celery juice is the new and hot wellness trend.
People who have tried the challenge are reporting some seriously miraculous results - like healing their depression and autoimmune disease - although many health professionals are skeptical of the fad and find it frustrating.
While I will never argue that you shouldn’t be adding veggies to your diet - celery juice may not be the hype and cure-all that everyone is hoping for and claiming it to be.
I worked with the folks at buzzfeed to clear up some of the mystery. They tried celery juice for a week, I give my two cents - you can watch the full video here (I make an appearance at 8:02).
But it turns out that I have a lot more thoughts on the topic than I could share in the video. Below I’ve broken it down for you - what the research says (and doesn’t say) and how celery juice can affect your body’s physiology.
All so you can make an educated choice whether or not you want to start juicing.
What is the celery juice cleanse?
The celery juice diet is simply drinking 16 ounces of fresh celery juice every morning - it must be on an empty stomach and you may not juice any other veggies with it (as it ‘works best’ on its own).
The diet was originally created by Anthony William - self titled Medical Medium. Although Williams doesn’t have any medical or nutrition training, people are going wild over this food trend and are reporting some pretty incredible results.
Let’s dig into why that is …
What are the benefits to drinking celery juice?
There are A LOT of claims Medical Medium makes. Below is a list of benefits directly from his website. He claims celery juice helps people heal from chronic illnesses such as:
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Blood sugar issues
High blood pressure
How does celery juice heal??
Williams claims that mineral salts in celery juice are responsible for starving out pathogens and viruses (and more specifically EBV) that are the root cause of these conditions. Unfortunately there is no supporting clinical evidence for any of these claims. Medical Medium is the only source that I’ve seen that knows about these miraculous mineral clusters, which makes the whole reason behind the fad feel a little fishy.
That being said - we don’t need to completely discredit celery either. While it’s not a cure all, it still does have benefits.
What does celery juice help with?
Celery juice can help with your digestion
(Have IBS? Make sure to read the fine print …)
Digestion is really complex and depending on your individual body and what you’re managing, celery juice can either be helpful or harmful.
If you are struggling with poor digestion (for ex: if you have had your gallbladder removed), celery juice may help. It helps to stimulate the production and output of stomach acid and bile - both are key players in digestion. Symptoms like heartburn, bloating, IBS and skin issues like eczema, may be related to inadequate amounts of HCl and bile.
Digestion is really complex - if you are suffering from an ulcer, dysbiosis (bacterial imbalance), SIBO or IBS - celery juice may not heal the gut and in some case can worsen your symptoms.
Celery juice is high in FODMAPs (carbohydrates our body can’t digest), which means that it can feed bacteria in the gut and exacerbate gas and bloating. This could be why you may experience a worsening in bloating and IBS symptoms when you start the cleanse. If this happens, listen to your body and seek the care of an integrative nutritionist that can help you create a customized plan that resolves the root cause of your gut pain.
Celery juice can help clear up your skin
Skin issues - if drinking celery juice helps to clear up your skin, it could be a function of better digestive health.
The gut and the skin are closely connected. Usually when people experience skin issues like acne, eczema and psoriasis - it’s closely woven to digestive health. Therefore, if you have poor digestion and are suffering from these issues, celery juice may actually help clear up your skin!
Celery juice is good for your heart
Heart health - celery’s impact on heart health is probably one of the more researched pieces of this puzzle. While there are no direct studies that look at how drinking celery juice impacts your risk of heart disease, there are beneficial compounds in celery juice that support heart health:
Celery juice contains ‘apigenin’, which has been shown to reduce platelet formation. This cleans up your arteries, reduces blood pressure and lowers the risk for heart disease.
A family of compounds called “phthliades” help to relax smooth muscles in arteries, reducing blood pressure.
Celery juice increases bile flow, which binds cholesterol and makes a more favorable cholesterol profile.
Celery also has fiber and seeds that have other studied benefits, like healing ulcers and balancing hormones, but you do not get these benefits when you are juicing it.
Why are people benefiting so much from celery juice?
People are reporting some seriously miraculous results from drinking celery juice, so why is that? Is it just the placebo effect or is there something real here?
Starting the day and jumpstarting your digestion with something so green and hydrating is bound to have some benefit.
I think the celery juice alone is enough for some people to see a true benefit, but for others I wonder if drinking celery juice every morning is a stepping stone for better health practices.
Juicing celery is a pretty easy health change to make and may inspire even more health practices. After all, you already juiced 16 ounces of celery, why not eat some more vegetables and throw in a workout while you’re at it?
The major question I’m left with: is it the healing properties of celery juice or is it the general commitment to healthier practices that are the true benefit people are seeing?
I would love to see proper research that clarifies these pieces and shows us what's the benefit when happens when the only change is drinking 16 oz of celery juice every morning.
Why celery juice? Isn’t having foods in their whole forms better?
Juicing celery (and all vegetables for that matter) has its pros and cons.
Pros: juicing vegetables concentrates their phytonutrients (beneficial compounds) more than what we can usually eat in whole foods. Juicing also = more hydration.
Cons: Juicing vegetables removes the fiber, which also removes some of the benefit. Fiber helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and regulate digestive health. Celery also has certain beneficial compounds that are attached to pectin. When you strip its fiber, you lose the compounds that help to lower inflammation and also those that protect the integrity of the gut.
The other con of juicing is that sugars tend to be more concentrated. See below for juicing tips to avoid juice that is too high in sugar.
Why celery juice? Can we juice other veggies?
Juice anything green! It is one of the best ways to start the day.
Juicing tip: Choose all greens and non-starchy vegetables when possible. In addition to celery this can be: spinach, romaine, cucumbers, cabbage or kohlrabi. Loading up with non-starchy vegetables makes sure your juice is more nutritious than a sugar bomb.
If you do want something sweet, I recommend no more than one piece of fruit or starchy vegetables - for ex: one carrot, beet, apple, pineapple, pear, etc.
Some of my favorite veggies to juice are celery, cucumber, spinach, parsley, ginger, turmeric and lemon or lime. If I’m craving something sweet I might also toss in a piece of pineapple!
Should anyone not do the celery juice cleanse?
As I mentioned above, individuals with SIBO and certain types of IBS may get more bloated from celery juice, but you need to listen to your own body on that one and work with a digestive health nutritionist / dietitian who can help individualize your approach.
If you are on medications - specially mood regulators, blood pressure or anticoagulant drugs - please talk with your doctor before starting this cleanse. Celery juice may impact the metabolism and efficacy of these medications.
Can celery juice help you lose weight?
Starting your day by hydrating can help to reduce hunger levels (sometimes when we’re thirsty, our body translates that to hunger), but there’s nothing specifically IN celery juice that I’m aware of that stimulates fat loss.
For those who have lost weight on this - I wonder what other healthy changes they have made that support fat loss?
We all want to make healthier choices, but it can be really overwhelming and confusing to overhaul your diet and embark on a nutrition plan. Drinking celery juice doesn’t require much effort and if it inspires other healthy changes.
While there’s not much harm, celery juice is not a miracle cure either.
Juice celery and other vegetables when possible. No need to stress if you skip a day or if you feel inspired to toss in other veggies like cucumbers, spinach, parsley and ginger. It is a wonderful way to start your day!