What is the deal with celery juice? How did it become a viral sensation overnight? Is its rapid gain in popularity attributed to any scientific research, or is this an example of society's demand for quick fixes and social acceptance?
The #celeryjuice sensation has flooded our social feeds, mainstream news outlets, and Instagram stories. Images of beautiful and healthy green juice drinkers are regularly splashed upon our screens. These alluring photos and tweets touting the magical benefits of celery juice even prompted some at D2D to run to our local grocery store in search of celery stalks!
But, wait, we asked, “where is the science?”
The major health claim is that by drinking 16 ounces of raw celery juice in the morning, on an empty stomach, you can transform your health in as little as one week. It looks and sounds so easy-breezy, but is there any scientific proof?
Social media influence is blinding
The latest miracle elixir has gone viral, with over 120,000 posts tagged and swoon-worthy celebrities like Goop founder Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Secret model Miranda Kerr, rap star Pharrell Williams, and talk show host Busy Philipps all enthusiastically supporting the celery wellness movement.
Celery juice looks delicious but it is not a miracle elixir!
“Apparently it’s supposed to do all of these wonderful things for you and something with Gwyneth Paltrow and I don’t know but I’m on board.”
– Busy Philipp
The self-proclaimed originator of the global celery juice movement is “medical medium” Anthony Williams, a Los Angeles-based health guru. With over 1.7 million followers on Instagram, Williams states that this cure-all elixir “is a powerful herbal medicine that is killing bugs in people’s bodies” and can transform your health in just days. What kind of “bugs”? The flu? Colds?
And have we learned nothing from the Fyre festival, that perception based on social influence can distort reality?
Williams says that he respects medical professionals. However, he rejects basic science and lacks scientific peer-reviewed studies to support his claims. This social media movement exploits chronic illness sufferers by giving them false hope.
Spirits and salts?
Williams explains that he has discovered the health benefits of celery juice via “spiritual clairvoyance”, which means that a spirit speaks to him in a voice only he can hear. In addition to the transformative claims of gut health, Williams also declares that he has uncovered what he calls cluster salts. He explains that cluster salts are a subgroup of sodium which can kill pathogens in people’s bodies, helping to rid chronic illness sufferers of ulcers, acne, eczema & psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, UTIs, acid reflux, and even high cholesterol.
Red flags all over the place!
How can one vegetable, comprised of almost 95% water and not particularly high in any vitamin or mineral, cure all these different ailments? Well, the short answer is that no human research has been conducted to prove all these claims. #Celeryjuice is the epitome of pseudoscience.
The truth is that celery, like most veggies, is a healthy dietary choice. Celery is hydrating due to its high water content; it is also naturally low in calories, fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. It contains a good amount of folate, as well as sodium, vitamin K and flavonoids, which have been shown in studies to balance electrolytes, keep blood pressure low, and combat inflammation. But most other veggies like broccoli, spinach, and cauliflower offer the same, if not more, nutrients.
Your money would be better spent if you buy the whole celery stalk and incorporate it into a whole-food diet full of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grain, and lean proteins.
–Kristen Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD
Convenience over correctness?
Think of the recent wellness trends that have come and gone–oil pulling, activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, the Master Cleanse, fasting, jade rollers, the red wine diet, waist trainers, raw milk—the list goes on. Psychologists have recently studied the implications of our “quick-fix” society”, determining that consumer decisions are not made with respect to the most effective option, but rather the quickest, and often only temporary, remedy.
Nutritionists we spoke to unanimously dismissed the quick fix mindset. To truly understand our health and optimize our well-being, we must look at our overall lifestyle, which includes behaviors, activity, sleep, relationships, and diet. And ultimately, not fall for social gimmicks, rooted in misleading pseudoscience.
“The science behind celery juice is very complicated. Many of the articles Williams references in his writing are animal-based studies, using high dosages. Ultimately, our dietary decisions should be looked at on an individual level, as each body is so different from the next.”
– Keiy Murofushi, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Cedars-Sinai Medical
Social media and social acceptance
According to Sprout Social, social networks are the largest source of inspiration for consumer decisions. It is a massive marketplace, with advertising revenue reaching $18.4 billion in 2018 spent on influencing you, the consumer. It is no wonder we as a society struggle with proper decision making when the influx of consumer-targeted ads and social messaging is utterly overwhelming.
Additionally, social media is designed to be addicting, taking advantage of our need for a sense of community, acceptance, and inclusion. How many followers do you have? How many likes did you get on your last post? It preys on a basic desire to “fit in” with our peers. It is this unconscious desire that often drives our decision making and blinds us to the facts. And in the case of celery juice, obscures our view of what is truly a healthy diet!
So how can you combat a very real societal challenge? Base your health decisions in science.
The Bottom Line
Decisions about your health and wellness should be based on facts, not followers. Be conscious of the science behind any wellness trend so as not to perpetuate pseudoscience driven by social acceptance and quick fixes.