Seems that each new year brings news of a trendy "superfood" that promises either to cure whatever ails you or to keep you so healthy that no disease would dare invade your magnificently fortified bod. In recent years, those foods have included acai, kale, chia seeds, goji berries, and turmeric; now we can add celery juice to the list. Proponents say that, among other things, celery juice improves the digestive system and helps you poop if you've been having trouble, er, moving things along. But does it really live up to all the hype? Should you swap out your can of prunes and your bottle of Miralax for a fresh bunch of green stalks?
The whole celery-juice phenomenon may be traced to Anthony William, the self-proclaimed Medical Medium. His books, including the New York Times best-selling Medical Medium, declare that just about any illness or condition, including liver- and thyroid-related ailments and autoimmune diseases, can be successfully treated and reversed through clean eating.
William claims that one of the best ways to start that healing is to drink — you guessed it — a full 16 ounces of pure celery juice first thing in the morning, preferably extracted with a "slow masticating juicer" like this $100 one. Celery, says Williams, contains "undiscovered sodium cluster salts" that help stop acid reflux, increase bile production in the liver, eliminate strep bacteria, and reduce bloating by "[breaking] down down rotting protein and rancid fats in the stomach."
Do his claims hold water? It depends on whom you speak to. William's high-profile followers include Jenna Dewan, Pharrell, and Gwyneth Paltrow, all of whom are known for their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Kim Kardashian recently began drinking celery juice to help relieve her chronic psoriasis, according to Bravo TV, and Lea Michele told Us Weekly, "I've seen [celery juice] improve my digestion so much." Doing a basic online search will call up personal essays from wellness enthusiasts as well, such as this one from Thyroid Yoga. The writer credits the green stuff with not only reducing bloating and the heavy-after-meals feeling, but also boosting brainpower and feeling generally awesome.
Some nutrition experts, however, aren't quite so convinced. James Beard award-winning nutritionist Carolyn Williams pointed out on her website that while celery does help ease bloating because it's a mild diuretic, "the effects are minimal" and mostly related to the veggie's ability to help the body naturally maintain its own water balance.
As for those claims that celery juice helps relieve constipation and rev digestion? Registered dietician Sally Kuzemchak told WebMD that ingesting celery in juice form is actually counterproductive, because you're taking out the part of the veggie that promotes regularity: the pulp. "It’s claimed that removing the fiber from celery makes the healing powers more potent, but unlike celery juice, fiber is actually proven to be good for you," she said.
Another nutritionist, Rachel Goodman, RD, told Mind Body Green that the research simply isn't there to prove that celery juice does anything other than providing a nice dose of potassium and vitamins, plus enough water content to help the digestive system function naturally. While it sounds appealing to think that a daily glass of green stuff could help you poop and keep disease at bay, "...in reality there is no one food that will cure disease," said Goodman. "[I]t should be part of the bigger picture and should not replace intake of all other vegetables and fruits."
It's also worth noting that the Medical Medium himself isn't a doctor. According to his website, he receives his medical knowledge not from research or experimentation, but by communing with the "Spirit of Compassion." This ethereal guide has apparently seen fit to give him advanced insight that hasn't yet been revealed to actual MDs, such as his claim about celery's "cluster salts" wiping out a wide variety of harmful bacteria and viruses.
If you're curious about trying a morning glass of celery juice to get your colon up and running, there's probably no harm in trying (though you might find, like this blogger, that it works a little too well). For now, at least, there's no real evidence to show that it is better than eating a variety of healthy fruits and veggies in their raw form.