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Celery Juice: Good for Our Gut or ‘Gotta Go’?

A smiling woman sitting down to eat a healthy green salad.
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As a dietitian, staying on top of the latest food and diet trends can feel like a whole job in itself – from celery juice for IBS to ACV for bloating – the list never ends! There are constantly new and increasingly bizarre diets, cleanses, and detox programs hitting the market. But do these crazes have scientifically-backed benefits? Or is it all a marketing ploy?

This leads me to the topic of today’s post – celery juice. Poor celery – left out of the hype for so many years, but has now made a comeback!

But the burning question is: do the potential benefits of drinking celery juice truly justify the time and money it costs to make it? I’m all for drinking juice you enjoy once in a while. But I’m not so sure about NEEDING to drink celery juice each and every day for its miraculous health benefits. So we’re going to take a closer look at the claims people are making about celery juice, and if it’s good for gut health.

People holding mason jars filled with green celery juice.

Health Claims of Celery Juice

The listed benefits of drinking celery juice are endless. The top claims we see include:

  • Get rid of toxins!
  • Cleanse your liver!
  • Restore your gut and improve digestion!
  • Reduce inflammation!
  • Balance your body’s pH!
  • Support weight loss!
  • Hydrate your body on a “deep cellular level!” …This one baffles me.

One of the hallmark claims of this magic drink is the benefit it has on digestive function. In fact, the creator of the celery juice movement, Anthony William, claims celery juice can “cure mystery illnesses” like IBS, constipation, acid reflux, celiac disease, and even diabetes (the list goes on).

Firstly, these are not “mystery illnesses.” There is very credible (and abundant) scientific evidence to show us that celiac disease and diabetes are real conditions with real causes. He implicates that we have literally just ‘made things up’ to explain conditions like IBS. While we’re still trying to fully understand the pathophysiology, there is a LOT of research looking at autoimmune conditions and functional gut disorders, with legitimate treatment options that don’t involve celery.

As I’m sure you can tell, I’m not a believer in celery juice as a universal health solution. Any single solution that offers a quick fix or replaces scientific evidence with jargon-y opinion is a GIANT red flag.

But are there any truths to these claims? In particular, how does celery juice impact the gut in both healthy populations as well as people with digestive disorders?

Celery Juice & Gut Health

At Ignite Nutrition we are particularly interested in how celery juice impacts gut health. As a registered dietitian specializing in gut health, I’ve seen many patients try to use celery juice to help their IBS. However, they notice once they start, their bloating and diarrhea are worse! This isn’t surprising given that celery contains some natural components that can pull a lot of excess water into the bowels, making everything more loose and urgent. BUT good news – celery juice isn’t a complete hoax. There are indeed truths behind some of the claims listed above, but these truths tend to be stretched and taken out of context. Let’s set things straight by analyzing a couple key points:

1. Myth or Fact? Celery juice contains anti-inflammatory compounds that can help the gut

For starters, celery does contain antioxidants, phytochemicals and flavonoids that may help to reduce inflammation. Yahoo! But most vegetables and fruit also contain similar compounds, if not more. There isn’t anything particularly special about celery’s chemical makeup in comparison to simply eating a variety of vegetables.

For those with inflammatory digestive issues like colitis, Crohn’s, or diverticular disease, hearing about the anti-inflammatory “superpower” of celery juice can be appealing. And while celery juice contains flavonoids that may reduce inflammation, it is also lacking one key element to support digestion: fibre! It is better to consume fruits and vegetables in their whole form in order to meet daily fibre requirements, while still consuming a variety of anti-inflammatory compounds from whole foods. In my experience as a gut health dietitian, most people already struggle to hit their fibre targets of 25 grams per day for women and 38 grams per day for men. Juicing our veggies just contributes to a further lack of fibre.

While food is powerful, we often find that people give it FAR too much credit. The anti-inflammatory power of fruits and vegetables, while awesome, is not a match or substitute for life saving medicines that are used in autoimmune conditions, like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). While we believe nutrition can be a great ‘adjunct’ to pharmacological therapy, there just isn’t evidence to support nutrition ‘curing’ these sorts of conditions.

2. Myth or Fact? Celery juice “flushes out” the digestive system and removes toxins.

Oh my, this one is full of easily misunderstood language. Yes, celery juice will “flush out” your bowels, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good thing! Anthony William describes on his blog that changes in bowel movements are normal after drinking celery juice and that loose stool is a sign of your body pushing out toxins from a “very toxic liver.” Ugh, talk about using pseudo-scientific jargon to make yourself sound credible!

Here’s the facts. Celery is high in mannitol, a carbohydrate found in some plants that is hard to digest and absorb. Mannitol pulls extra water into the bowels and therefore can make our stool looser and cause diarrhea, cramping, and urgency. When I work with IBS patients, we often talk about the low FODMAP diet – and mannitol is a FODMAP (ie. a fermentable carbohydrate that can contribute to IBS symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, and of course – diarrhea).

Now think about the portion. Two stalks of celery are considered high in mannitol and it takes an entire bunch of celery to make one large glass (16 oz) of celery juice. You do the math! 2+2 = spending the day on the toilet. For those with pre-existing gut conditions like IBS, this can worsen their already frustrating symptoms. I’ve seen it firsthand with my IBS patients who have attempted the celery juice craze.

On the flip side, a patient with constipation might see relief from drinking celery juice because of its laxative properties – leading to symptom relief! So some people may in fact feel less bunged up with celery juice (though there are other ways to go about it, too). It’s clear that this issue of “flushing” is a very nuanced thing – it’s not going to be appropriate for everyone.

What about the toxins?

This leads me to my next point about ‘toxins’ – experiencing bowel changes from celery juice is not a result of removing toxins from your digestive system. If you’re a human (I assume you are) your body already has an excellent detox system in place and does NOT need the help of this green juice (should it even be able to ‘help’, which it doesn’t). Why is it that we cannot trust our bodies? Think of it like breathing – you likely don’t think about ways you can “get more oxygen” because you probably trust that your body is going to do that for you!

Bottom line

When reading the literature on celery juice, there is one clear theme; there is no science to back up the majority of the claims behind this movement. On Anthony William’s website he has numerous posts about the potent healing properties of celery juice, but if you read closely you will see lots of language like “medical science and research are not yet aware…” and “although science has not discovered this yet…” Am I the only one who thinks this is super sketchy? Bottom line: he has no medical training. I strongly advise that you don’t take advice from someone who ‘intuits’ his health information.

So let’s talk about credibility – registered dietitians, along with many other credible medical practitioners, have a science degree and additional training for our designations. As an RD, I take pride in providing nutrition advice that is evidence-based and clinically proven. Therefore, celery juice will not be part of my recommendations anytime soon.

However, if you enjoy drinking celery juice go ahead and enjoy. Just treat it AS A JUICE. A once-in-a-while drink to enjoy, not a mandatory or lifesaving beverage.

I myself LOVE green juice. It’s a nice to drink every now and again. I like the sweet and herbaceous flavours of the different fruit, vegetables, and herbs that are added. But, I know it’s not doing anything miraculous for my health, and DOESN’T replace my intake of whole fruits and veg. And, because of the mannitol, it may help, OR hinder your IBS symptoms – so be aware of that too! 

Instead of honing in on one single vegetable (or in this case, it’s juices), we should take a more diverse approach and choose a variety of fruits and vegetables in appropriate portions (ie. not an entire bunch of celery in one sitting). At the end of the day, there is no one food that will solve all our problems!

If you feel you have gut issues that could be improved with dietary changes, it is best to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian who specializes in digestive health. Diets or cleanses that make such outlandish promises are generally too good to be true. In the end, they are very restrictive and ultimately harmful to our relationship with food and our bodies!

People holding mason jars filled with green celery juice.

Categorized: Gut Health & IBS

19 responses to “Celery Juice: Good for Our Gut or ‘Gotta Go’?”

  1. Thank you for this post. I was reading about this miracle and was also very skeptical as I am with any so-called miracle “cure”. I believe food can be thy medicine, but I think this guy is just another hocus-pocus guy trying to make a quick buck off desperate people and that is shameful. It is a sad state that people are so distrustful of science and medical professionals nowadays that they will listen to any person with the weirdest ideas just because they go against the grain.

    • Have you, Marlee, or anyone else reading or responding to this thread tried juicing celery juice every day for an extended period of time to test it out? Anyone have any personal insights?

      • I personally haven’t, but I haven’t asked my team (though I doubt it – there’s a zillion trends out there and trying it doesn’t equate to ‘evidence’ and if someone is giving you medical advice off ‘it worked for me, you should try it’, that’s a huge red flag – and something we see a lot of on social media!). It’s not surprising, but this articles goal is to review the evidence and critique the claims out there, (and we really cover the most outlandish ones) but I’m sure you can see from the comments, it’s pretty unlikely they’ve read the article but more likely they just scanned it!

  2. The one good thing that came out of the one and only day I drank celery juice was the discovery of its magical ability to treat constipation. I now regularly consume celery – not juice – for my IBS-C. It’s been a real game changer for me.

  3. I’m a medium & I think you miss the point of being a “medical medium” we receive knowledge & direction from source. It’s not pseudo. Drop into your heart & out of your mind. Connect to source. This post bashed the validity of all the things you block.

    • What validity are you referring to? and in what way does this post discuss the medium aspect? By all means drink celery juice, however – people can’t be making things up and spreading it around, like it removes toxic sludge from your gut or that doctors just don’t ‘understand digestion’ – that is misinformation and does harm.

  4. Interesting post but if you were to view Anthony Willims instagram feed you will see 1000’s of people who have been drinking celery juice daily and are seeing massive results to their health and not just celery juice, healthy dieting in general.

    Your comment about food is not as good as drugs is a bit of a red flag in my oppinion??? Your a nutrionist and you wrote that!!!! WTH

    Well alot of people these days tend to think its lack of quality food and poor diets that is causing all of these medical issues – let food by thy medicine!

    • Anecodote isn’t evidence and often lacks a deeper understanding as to ‘what else’ the person is doing. It often draws erroneous conclusions which is why research is so important. As for Food not as good as drugs 1) that isn’t what was written 2) food is NOT medicine. Medicine is medicine and there are times where medicine is necessary (food does not cure cancer. Food does not save a life if someone is having a stroke – medical intervention is necessary -and understanding and respecting the limitations of food is part of being a dietitian – so I don’t sell/over promise how food will ‘fix’ someone.
      Yes diet can contribute to many disease and diet self can help people overcome and manage many diseases. But it can be so easy to get caught in the trap of naturalistic fallacies.

    • Somebody out there please help me I’ve been juicing for the last 2 weeks and now I’m starting to get really bad diarrhea and I don’t know if it and I’m only drinking a shot of it everyday but I don’t know if if it’s causing me to get diarrhea like that I drink it first thing in the morning so if somebody could just let me know I appreciate it can it be because of the pure celery that I’m drinking

  5. Thank you for the thorough explanation on this! I was reading through material on a Rheumatoid Arthritis program and the guru (not doctor) recommended celery juice. They exaggerated the benefits with just enough science-y words thrown in to sound legit. I juiced for 2 days and enjoyed the natural laxative effects, it is great to understand from your article how it works. “Detox” is such a buzzword that it kinda just means diarrhea sometimes?? Lol. Anyways I still need to work on finding ways to enjoy more veggies in my diet so juicing keeps it fun and tasty until I’m in the mood for more solid veg.

    • Thank you for sharing this! Detox is often a buzz word for things that induce diarrhea, isn’t it? Either way – if you enjoy celery juice and it allows you to get veggies in, plus those laxative benefits that’s great too 🙂

  6. I was taking celery juice with ginger and apple to help my sick and slow thyroid. Did it for two months but let’s just say I ended up with very inconvenient bowel movements after 6 weeks. However, miraculously my very slow to virtually non existent thyroid went from severely under active to overactive for the first time on over 12 years! I was advised to reduce my meds and have continued to do so gradually. Something in the juice worked?

  7. I appreciate the explanation of the cause of the diarrhea, I’ll be adjusting the amount of my daily celery juice down. With a degree in biology, and a lifelong interest in science, the Medical Medium book felt very uncomfortable to me for just those un “science-y” statements. Nonetheless, it was recommended to be by two smart people, and following the diet, including the celery juice, resulted lowered my blood pressure to normal without medication after several months of it spiking.
    Perhaps this is simply due to its diuretic effect, and I certainly don’t appreciate the loose stools BUT I do appreciate having normal blood pressure again without medication.
    Personally, having had a long healing journey and myriad health issues, I never consider medicine first, unless its an acute emergency. I believe that most of our control over our health comes from the food we eat and what we do with our bodies/minds, and that habit of believing that medicine is the solution, rather than changing habits, including food, is the root cause of a significant portion of America’s epidemic of ill health.

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