Let’s all be real for a minute: celery ranks pretty high up there on most people’s list of least favorite veggies. So why is everyone drinking celery juice now? You can credit the trend mostly to the Medical Medium, who dishes out nutrition advice based not on science but rather on what “Spirit” tells him is true. He claims the benefits of celery juice range from curing and clearing eczema to reversing thyroid conditions like hypothyroidism. But what’s real, what’s hype, and should you be drinking it too? We dig into the real dirt behind the celery juice craze.
The Medical Medium suggests the magic number is 16 ounces of the bright green juice on an empty stomach every morning. That’s probably why you’re seeing smiling faces holding up glasses of the concoction on Instagram lately. He claims it can reverse inflammation that causes even autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s, IBS, and GERD. He touts its “antiseptic” qualities from its mineral salts that “break down the pathogens’ cell membranes, eventually killing and destroying them.” He even calls celery juice a “battery charger for the brain,” claiming it boost neuron function.
But is it really the cure-all he makes it sound? Here’s what’s real and what’s hype when it comes to drinking celery juice.
The benefits of celery juice are real
No one in their right mind is going to tell you celery isn’t healthy. Well, unless you prefer eating it piled high with calorie-dense peanut butter. But the biggest benefit of adding celery to your diet that people talk about is generally the fiber content. That gets stripped away when you juice the stalks, so what are you left with? What are the benefits of celery juice? We’ll break it down.
Celery certainly does boast strong antioxidant content. Antioxidants help remove free radicals from the body and potentially decrease your risk of developing cancer. While there are studies that suggest various parts of this plant could benefit humans in a variety of ways, there’s no work done specifically on celery juice. Yes, you’ll still get the antioxidants. It might also help with blood sugar regulation and insulin levels. It could potentially even help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
At a very basic level, celery juice does offer a host of vitamins and minerals in addition to its antioxidant content. The veggie is high in vitamin B6, vitamin C, and vitamin K in addition to folate, manganese, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The fiber content is a big benefit though, again, you lose that when you juice the veggie instead of eating it whole.
But some of them really are just hype
Yes, this veggie-based drink is safe to consume, and there might even be benefits of celery juice. But there simply isn’t science backing up big claims like its ability to reverse inflammation associated with autoimmune diseases. In fact, it’s dangerous to suggest that without real evidence. Maybe the benefits of drinking celery juice will be studied soon. Until then, the best person to talk to about autoimmune conditions is your doctor.
Autoimmune diseases come, for many, with a lifetime of medication and management through lifestyle changes. If you’re living with one of these conditions, please do not stop taking medicine without the approval of your doctor. If you want to work drinking celery juice into your wellness routine, talk to your doctor about it. It could be a health-boosting bonus on top of the regimen they already have you on.
“While celery juice is one wonderful source of disease-fighting phytonutrients and other vitamins and minerals, there is no one superfood that promises excellent health when consumed,” registered dietitian Julieanna Heaver told The Daily Meal about this bitter elixir. “Most important is your overall diet and making sure it is filled with plenty of fruits and vegetables.”
Is it essential to make sure your celery juice is organic?
Juicing can be expensive, especially if you’re using organic produce. (Have you seen how many greens you need to use to get one full 16-ounce glass of juice, like celery juice fans recommend drinking?) So we can’t blame you if you’re thinking of cutting the cost by skipping organic and going with conventionally-grown celery. After all, what’s the harm?
Well, if you believe the Environmental Working Group, which acts as an advocate for consumers, you’d be exposing yourself a good amount of pesticides. Every year this organization puts out their “Dirty Dozen” list, the 12 items of produce most contaminated by industrial pesticides. Celery makes the list.
The side effects of pesticide exposure are well documented. Studies have linked this with decreased ability to conceive in women as well as negative repercussions for men’s reproductive health. Exposure to organophosphates, a group of pesticides, in the womb was even found to correspond to lower IQ scores in children. Recent studies have even found that low-level exposure to some pesticides mimics the mutation of cells found in Parkinson’s. Experts fear that this exposure, combined with a predisposition, dramatically increases the risk of developing the disease.
Are there any celery juice side effects?
Celery does indeed boast a long list of health benefits, so it won’t hurt you to add celery juice to your diet as long as you talk to your doctor before making the addition. The biggest problem about this latest juice trend is that there isn’t much research done on celery juice yet. “We don’t have a robust picture of its benefits like we do for something like say, avocado or extra virgin olive oil,” Cynthia Sass, RD, CSSD, a New York City and Los Angeles based performance dietitian told Good Morning America about the stalks. “This also means we don’t know the optimal amount or frequency to consume, the potential risks for certain people, and possible interactions with medications and supplements.”
Sass warns that “allergic reactions are possible,” and you should be especially cautious if you’re sensitive to birch, dandelion, and other plants. “Celery juice may also increase sensitivity to sunlight,” she cautions. If you know of any food sensitivities or you’re talking a prescription medication, bottom line is you need to talk to your doctor first. As long as they clear you, there isn’t any harm in drinking celery juice as long as you don’t think of it as a cure-all.
Essentially, it’s best to think of celery juice as a drinkable vitamin. It’s a supplement to your already healthy lifestyle, not a substitute for anything.