I remember when the celery juice craze started. It was mid-2019 and I was still partly working in a hospitality job.
It was kind of overnight that we had to start buying up hundreds of dollars worth of celery each week to keep up with the celery juice demand from customers.
One large celery juice, hold the ice, was a very popular order. Each customer describes the benefits of celery juice at the checkout whether or not their thoughts were asked for.
Common lines were,
“ Celery juice is just so hydrating”
“I am doing a cleanse and can only drink celery juice for breakfast”
“Celery juice is so good for weight loss. I have lost 3kgs already”
And the ol’ faithful, ‘It just helps my digestion so much and I don’t feel bloated’.
Over two years from when it all began, let’s actually unpack the facts and fiction surrounding celery juice.
Where Did It All Begin? The History Of Celery Juice
In 2019, Anthony William (also known as the Medical Medium), released a book titled, “Celery Juice: The Most Powerful Medicine of Our Time Healing Millions Worldwide”.
The title in itself is a very bold claim.
The author has stated that celery juice’s health benefits are due to undiscovered “cluster salts” which are only bioavailable once celery has been juiced and is consumed on an empty stomach.
To reap the benefits, he has said that the celery juice mustn’t contain any pulp, must be consumed on its own (not even any lemon or ice), in the morning, 30 minutes before eating anything else.
The Medical Medium claims that celery juice can not only improve digestion and reduce inflammation but also cure depression and cancer.
The Health Claims of Celery Juice
Anthony William, the godfather of the celery juice craze actually has no medical or nutrition science background.
He has claimed that since he was a child, he has been able to ‘read’ people’s health. Hence the name he has taken as the Medical Medium.
It honestly all sounds like an early 2000s reality show.
But alas, once celery juice hit the streets of LA and was taken up by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Gweneth Paltrow, its popularity boomed worldwide.
Hydration & Celery Juice
The health claims of celery juice are vast and varied.
If you are guzzling half a litre or more of liquid in the morning, chances are that you are going to be more hydrated.
Being hydrated can absolutely help improve mood, energy and digestion. However, you don’t need to be drinking celery juice to be hydrated.
Celery juice does contain some electrolytes and therefore may be slightly more hydrating than plain old water but you could say the same for orange juice.
In fact, milk is more hydrating than celery juice.
Celery Juice Reduces Inflammation
The claim that celery juice reduces inflammation likely comes from the fact that celery is rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidation. Which is a chemical process that produces free radicals that can damage cells in the body.
A diet rich in antioxidants has been associated with reduced levels of inflammation and an overall reduction in chronic disease risk.
These diets tend to be mostly plant-based and contain a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Once again though, celery does not have any special properties that other antioxidant-rich plant foods don’t have.
Celery Juice Improves Digestion
Does being hydrated improve digestion? Absolutely.
Staying hydrated allows for more water to be drawn into your stool which helps them pass through the digestive tract more easily.
Can celery juice help you become more hydrated? It has high water content, so of course, it can.
But other than that, celery juice is not going to improve digestion. You could also hydrate with water, milk or anything else that tickles your fancy.
Being hydrated also allows you to easily get rid of waste products through your urine and faeces.
Your gastrointestinal tract and kidneys do a great job of “cleansing” your body so you don’t actually need celery juice to do that.
Simply stay well hydrated and eat a fibre rich diet.
Celery Juice Cures Cancer
Not only does this claim have absolutely zero merit it is also very dangerous.
Studies have shown that plant-based diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with a reduction in the risk of certain cancers.
But there is no clinical evidence that celery juice will reduce the risk of or cure cancer.
One flavonoid in celery known as apigenin, has been shown to have some protective effects in cancer research. However, this research is currently cell-based and has not been demonstrated in humans.
Great For Weight Loss
Having a fibre rich diet high in a variety of vegetables and other plant-based foods can be helpful for weight loss.
However, celery juice itself, not so much.
Celery juice is mostly water and is a low-calorie food, but since it is juiced with non-pulp, it is also devoid of fibre. From a weight-loss perspective, you would be much better off eating the celery in its full form.
Altough if you are replacing a previously 400-600 calorie breakfast with 100 calories worth of celery juice, you may in fact lose weight. That is if you don’t end up eating more over the course of the day to make up for this less than satisfying breakfast.
Nevertheless, celery itself has no special characteristics that make it a particularly helpful food for weight loss.
Celery Juice & The Issue With Its “Evidence”
The issue with the ‘evidence’ for celery juice is that it is mostly anecdotal.
And on the hierarchy of evidence, people’s perceived experience is very low down on that list.
A quote from the Medical Medium website states:
“The naysayers of today are once again dismissing the chronically ill by ignoring their healing experiences with celery juice. They’re telling hundreds of thousands of people who have shared their positive experiences that they are wrong: they aren’t healing, they’ve never healed, and they weren’t really sick in the first place. It’s downright disrespectful.”
This is very manipulative, almost cult-like language. Definitely not a scientific discussion around the benefits of celery juice.
If you have had a great experience with drinking celery juice, that is amazing. But it also isn’t evidence that celery juice has particularly helpful properties.
At this stage, celery is no better than generally having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and being well-hydrated.
Celery is an amazing food. It is nutrient-packed, low calorie, high fibre and quite hydrating due to its water content.
However, it is definitely no miracle or cure-all to every ailment under the sun.
If you like celery, eat it. But you don’t have to juice it nor have it on an empty stomach or anything like that to reap the benefits of this very nutritious food.
Reminiscing on my days as a cafe manager, too many people spent way too much money on celery juice expecting amazing results. Only to get a very mediocre tasting, room temperature juice with no magical outcomes.
If you are looking to improve your health, it is a much better idea to adopt a mostly plant-based diet that is rich in a diverse range of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains and maintain good hydration.