Celery is the new Kale. The once looked over vegetable is now so in demand, it took no less than three grocery stores to find a bunch. I found exactly three on my third try and bought them all. Two days later I needed more and had to go to three more stores to pick up the last two bunches available there. Gone are the days you could choose between a dozen bunches.
Why the sudden shortage of celery? Celery juice. Which requires celery by the bunch. One bunch of celery will yield between 250ml to 500ml of juice, and it is the green juice to be downing. Celery, if one is to believe everything they see on social media and the interwebs, is said to be a healing elixir. It’s all but the cure for cancer.
Digestion issues? Celery juice
Skin problems? Celery juice
UTI? Celery juice
Brain fog? Celery Juice
Hungover? Celery Juice
Mystery illness? Celery Juice
Want to lose weight? Celery juice
According to Anthony William, also known as The Medical Medium and the godfather of celery juice, celery juice has “the ability to create sweeping improvements for all kinds of health issues”. He calls it the saviour of chronic illness and says he’s seen thousands of people who suffer from chronic and mystery illnesses restore their health by drinking sixteen ounces of celery juice daily on an empty stomach.
Celery juice, he assures, is good for anyone – mystery illness or not. And who doesn’t want boundless energy, glowing skin and a mucus-less gut? The science around celery juice is murky. When I say murky, I mean if science can be tallied in the amount of Instagram posts, celebrities and wellness warriors touting the benefits of celery juice, it’s well proven to be magical. If you prefer to take your science from journals, licensed health professionals and scientific studies, it’s non-existent.
You see, every piece I’ve read about celery juice at some point quotes the above-mentioned Anthony Williams who is not a doctor, scientist or trained nutritionist. He calls himself the medical medium because he believes he is a medium. His knowledge is bestowed upon him from spirits, and said knowledge is beyond what science can prove (or disprove). And with endorsements from Gwyneth Paltrow, Jenna Dewan, Robert DeNiro, Pharell Williams, Sly Stallone, over 1 million Instagram followers and 3 best selling books, what’s a little piece of paper with a qualification?
In general, Doctors, dietitians and nutritionists are against the trend. While they don’t deny that celery is healthy, they say many of the supposed benefits being touted are dubious and, in some cases harmful.
Paula Norris, an Australian Dietician put up two posts explaining her concern over celery juicing. According to Paula, celery juice may be beneficial for the following reasons:
Helps with hydration [due to increased fluid consumption].
Helps with urinary tract infections [due to increased fluid consumption].
Makes you feel better [due to increased vegetable intake].
Helps with weight loss [if you’re replacing higher calorie juices/smoothies with celery juice].
Helps skin [due to increased fluid, vitamin and mineral intake].
However, she warns that the claims that it lowers high cholesterol, corrects gut issues, reduces blood pressure, fixes chronic diseases, dissolves gallstones, detoxes the body or prevents cancer are dubious and have no scientific basis. If it makes you feel better and you like it, drink it, Paula says. However, people with IBS or who follow a FODMAP diet should avoid it as it contains enough Manitol, a FODMAP carbohydrate to induce intolerance.
Marika Day, another qualified dietitian and nutritionists warned in one of her insta stories that celery juice can be dangerous for those on blood thinners as it has a lot of Vitamin K. In the same series of stories, she said that while celery is healthy (it’s a vegetable) and high in Vitamin K, folate and fibre (until you juice it and remove said fibre), and is 96% water making it incredibly hydrating, it is the idea that celery juice is a cure all that is dangerous. “It creates an idea”, she says, “that you should be able to treat your own disease and that if you can’t you aren’t doing enough. It’s misleading to lead people to think that they’re able to treat what could be serious conditions without consulting the proper medical experts and in some cases [blood thinners, IBS] can be harmful.”
A quick scan of other qualified doctors, dietitians and nutritionists who have spoken out about celery juice revealed much of the same – if you like it and it makes you feel good, drink it, in most cases it won’t harm you, but it also won’t magically heal you. If you’re drinking it in attempt to heal yourself of chronic diseases, autoimmune diseases, skin issues, gut issues or anything else, bear in mind that there is no science to back up any claims. In fact, the person who made it popular has no medical or scientific qualifications and has a disclaimer on his website not to use the information published (which includes his thoughts on the healing powers of celery juice) “for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment”. In fact he goes so far as to suggest you consult a healthcare provider.
Despite the above, I had been toying with the idea of a celery juice experiment in the name of research. It was really the claims of it giving you energy and watching people story themselves downing a glass practically bouncing around that convinced me. Can you imagine how much I could get done on a glass of celery juice energy?
As misery loves company, I announced to Feige we would be doing a celery juice diet together. I assured her that it wouldn’t involve changing diets, but we would follow the strict rules laid out by Anthony to reap the full rewards. This involves drinking 6-18 ounces on an empty stomach in the morning and then waiting 30 minutes before eating anything else. Once those 30 minutes are up, I told her, we could continue our day as normal, but hopefully with more energy.
I also told her, having her do it at the same time as me would make it better research. After all we have two different bodies that work differently – would we both experience the same effects? Would one of us shine and the other dull?
To further convince her I was onto something, I ran an Instagram poll, as one does regarding most life choices, and with a 58% approval rating, went for it. And so, for 5 days we drank a glass of freshly pressed celery juice first thing in the morning and waited 30 minutes before having anything else (except a glass of water to wash the celery down).
You may be thinking 5 days is too short to see if something is working, but I was after the energy boosting benefits and I figured that should be immediate. After all juice is liquid and liquid doesn’t hang around your body. We both kept notes, to see how we fared.
I started by making the juice for the next day the night before. I figured that it would be easier if it was already ready first thing in the morning. The Medical Medium suggests that it is freshly pressed right before drinking, before any of its nutrients evaporate; but he’s ok with letting it sit for a maximum of 24 hours. I used the Greenis juicer, so it was proper cold-pressed celery juice, but there are many “instructions” for making it by blending celery and water and then squeezing it through a nut bag to remove pulp and extract only the juice.
I don’t know what I was expecting taste wise, but it was horrendous and bitter. In addition, the smell and taste of celery is not easy to get rid of, it lingers long after the last drop is consumed. But apparently you get used to the taste and grow to love it, so I held out some hope. After Feige downed it she remarked, “I can really use a piece of chocolate to wash it down”. She repeated the same routine after every glass, so the claims that it reduces sugar cravings went well.
On day 3 I decided to juice it right before drinking it to see if maybe allowing it to sit overnight was making it overly bitter. It was not. And so, I went back to making it the night before so it would be cold. Having it ice cold made it more bearable because it felt refreshing, and if I held my breath and drank it like a shot, I could barely taste it.
After 5 days it did not taste any better. If anyone tells you otherwise, they’ve either convinced themselves it tastes good or like the taste of strong celery. But do not let anyone convince you it’s a delicious green drink.
We both felt the digestion effects immediately. I would say it makes your digestion work twice as fast. If you’re having digestion issues that could be a good thing, if you’re not, well then you don’t need the help. But it changed throughout the week, most likely as our body got used to it. I also did not feel bloated at all that week. I believe my digestion amped up because my body was horrified and wanted it out as soon as I put it in, but the Medium will tell you that it is just the celery evacuating all the toxins and mucus from your gut and liver.
Another thing about digestion and celery juice is something I wasn’t keen on talking about and would have rather flushed away; but the silence must be broken and the people must know. Celery juice may turn your bowel movements green, which is as frightening as it sounds. I did extensive research (read: googling) and not one person who’s written about their love of the juice has copped to bowel movements of the green variety. The only thing mentioned is that they’re as regular as clockwork now.
The silence is deafening.
There are a number of reasons given for green bowel movements, one of which is an increased in leafy greens (however, my only increase was an added cup of green juice), diets (keto diets and colon cleanses can cause it) or more worrisome is malabsorption due to one’s digestive system working too fast. When your system is working normally, your liver produces bile (which is light green in colour) which is stored in your gallbladder. When you eat a meal that contains enough fat, the gallbladder releases bile to help emulsify and breakdown the fatty acids. The bile also helps dump toxins that may be stored in your liver (amazingly your body has natural mechanisms of getting rid of toxins). Bile also signals to your pancreas to release enzymes to further breakdown food. As your body digests the food, bacteria and enzymes in your large intestines turn bile (and your bowel movements) from green to yellow to brown. When your system is moving too fast, bile isn’t broken down as it should be, resulting in green poop.
So, while celery juice may improve or speed up digestion, you want your body to digest your food slow enough to be able to get the nutrients from said food. Amazingly, it was after I stopped celery juicing that everything went back to normal and it is for this reason, I won’t be doing it regularly. Because poop should be brown not green and anything that’s making it green cannot be good for your internals no matter what the spirits are saying.
Energy wise neither of us was jumping around with boundless energy. In fact, there were days where we were the opposite of boundless energy. There were days we were more productive and days that we were exhausted – and they happened on different days for both of us. I would not consider celery juice to be an energy drink. A nap would be better.
Celery juice is said to clear skin. Two days in, I started noticing my skin going from good to bad, and by the end of 5 days I had a breakout bigger than I can remember in a very long time, and in a place I had never ever had a breakout. My skin is usually pretty clear, and this was horrifying.
Feige also suffered from a breakout, a crater sized breakout, and hers also occurred in a place she never breaks out. According to Hannah Bronfman, she breaks out a week after starting and then her skin clears up. According to the medium the breakout is just more toxins removing themselves from your body. This may be why we both broke out in odd areas, perhaps those were particularly toxin filled. Our skin did clear up, but I’ll credit that to an aggressive pimple clearing routine, that has been crafted over years and a host of skincare products we employed as opposed to the magical juice.
If you change nothing about your diet which is healthy to start with, but drink a celery juice every morning and notice your digestive system working faster than normal will you lose weight? We both put on weight. So that’s a no from us.
I do however think that with weight loss it depends on the person. Celery juice may have the effect that exercise has on people. When you start exercising you often end up gravitating towards healthier food options, which helps you loose weight. Starting your day with a glass of celery juice can make you more mindful of what you eat the rest of the day, making those choices healthier. But if you’re happy with your diet and it’s healthy and all you change is a celery juice, you’re not likely to lose weight. Celery juice may also cause a craving for chocolate.
After 5 days I was sick of celery and celery juice and waited 5 more days to see how my body would do sans celery juice. My digestion is working great, I feel no better or worse, my energy levels are the same, my skin is clear, but most importantly I can no longer taste the taste of celery juice at the back of my throat the whole day.
Would I celery juice again and should you? I would not do it regularly or even often. If I were feeling sluggish or bloated and felt like I needed a little kickstart, I’d have a glass of celery juice. If you’re considering hopping aboard the celery juice train, two words of advice. Drink responsibly.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.