Can Celery Juice Heal Your Gut?
If you’ve been following me for some time now you probably already know my stance on celery juice but I wanted to touch on it in a little more depth here with particular reference to gut health.
The rise of celery juice is thanks to the Medical Medium, which to be fair is actually where I have most of my issues, it isn’t the celery juice per se it is the idea that someone with no qualifications, no medical, nutrition or health background or training is offering advice on curing disease. This I have a problem with, but that is another issue altogether.
First up, I have no issue with people including more fruits and vegetables in their diet, in fact that is something I would definitely encourage. However, one of the many benefits of fruit and vegetables is their high fibre content and by juicing fruit or veggies we remove that fibre which to me seems a little wasteful to remove one of the most nutritious components.
For today, I won’t go into all the claims made about celery juice but rather focus on the gut health side of things. So let’s take a look at what celery juice does for the gut:
1. Celery juice is claimed to be a powerful source of antioxidants and an anti-inflammatory food which heals the gut.
Yes celery, like all vegetables contains antioxidants, like I mentioned though, this isn’t unique to celery. Fruits and vegetables are powerful sources of antioxidants and contain anti-inflammatory properties, this isn’t new nor is it special to celery.
2. Celery juice detoxifies the body and eliminates these toxins through the bowels
Celery is high FODMAP (read more about fodmaps here) and the portion size of celery to be considered high FODMAP is 2 stalks. The recommendation for juicing celery is one bunch, that's about 10-15 stalks, so we are talking really high FODMAP. FODMAPs draw water into the bowel and are fermented by bacteria in the large intestine and it is this combination of fermentation and water drawn into the bowel that can result in bloating or multiple (potentially urgent) trips to the toilet. This is not as a result of detoxification of the liver or any other crazy claims, it is simply that celery is high FODMAP and this is what FODMAPs will do in the gut of many. In particular, for those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) high doses of FODMAPs like this can be incredibly painful, and result in days of altered bowel habits.
So why do you see people sharing benefits?
There are a few reasons here. Firstly, the placebo effect is powerful. Incredibly powerful. Believing something will have a certain effect in your body can translate to real changes. There have been studies where faux knee surgeries have been performed (the surgeon just did a few incisions to make it appear that the knee was operated on) and those with the faux surgery experienced similar reduction in pain and improvement in mobility as those who had the real surgery. WHAT?!
Secondly, people don’t share their failed stories. People will only jump on social media and share their success stories because, I mean, who wants to see that someone painstakingly put themselves through drinking celery juice daily and there was no benefit. We are attracted to dramatic results and this means people will only share their stories if they get those results. Why are they getting these results you ask though? Well that leads me to my next point, we cannot control for confounders on social media, did these people start drinking more water, did they also start eating better, did they start exercising more, did they swap their breakfast cereal for celery juice, or was it simply the placebo effect. We cannot know these details without rigorous scientific studies and this is why I continue to stand by the evidence when it comes to trends like this. We just don’t know what else is happening.
VERDICT: Sure if you want to try celery juice go for it, but the multiple trips to the toilet each day aren’t detoxifying and celery juice isn’t a miracle cure for all ailments.