Some health trends are nothing more than a flash in the pan; an Instagram post, a quick article or two and a celebrity endorsement before they sink back into the great Goopy pool of wellness from whence they came.
Celery juice however, is not one of those things. Since storming the mainstream last September, this new, decidedly stringier version of green juice has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity; there are now hundreds of thousands of posts about it on Instagram, with users praising it for everything from boosting their immune system to curing their psoriasis, clearing their mind fog and lowering blood pressure. Basically, it's not going anywhere any time soon.
It all stems from a guy called Anthony William, aka the Medical Medium. William claims his abilities first became apparent as a child when, according to his blurb on his website, he diagnosed his as yet symptomless grandmother with lung cancer by "reading" her across the table. Doctors later confirmed it. William now boasts over 1.5 million Instagram followers, has released three books and carries personal testimonies on his website from Gwyneth Paltrow (expected), Pharrell (not as expected) and Robert De Niro (downright rogue).
Anyway, William is the originator of what he calls the 'global celery juice movement'. He advocates drinking 16oz (about 450ml) of celery juice on an empty stomach each morning and says that it's brought his followers "improvement, relief and healing from all kinds of acute and chronic illnesses and symptoms, including digestive issues, skin conditions, migraines, fatigue, autoimmune illnesses, brain fog, and hundreds of others."
So should you be spending your mornings whizzing up celery in the Nutribullet to drink on your way to work? Or can you spend that extra 10 minutes in bed?
First, the good. "One portion – about 150ml – will provide one of your five a day and contains a good amount of vitamin K that's needed for blood clotting," explains Kirsty Barrett, a Registered Dietician.
Dr Sara Diana Garduno Diaz, PhD in nutrition and food science and R&D consultant for her1, a soon-to-launch female supplement brand, doesn't like the term 'superfood'. "The term is often overused," she says. "Most often for marketing purposes and less so from a science perspective." So while she won't call celery a superfood, she does say that it is a source of antioxidants and polyphenols.
The celery crew say these antioxidants are the vegetable's most valuable property, as they believe they can help fight inflammation. But Kirsty is cautious. "[Celery] does contain antioxidants such as vitamin E and C but not in large quantities [and] we don't have enough evidence to suggest specific antioxidants for inflammation." Sara Diana says that research is being done in this area: "Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory food sources are continuously being studied for their role in managing chronic conditions. It is difficult to isolate a single nutrient that is responsible for healing any health condition." She adds however that benefits have been "strongly attributed" to eating plans which are high in vegetables like celery.
Celery advocates aren't just into eating celery though; they want it juiced. The thinking is that by juicing celery it removes the fibre, therefore making the celery's beneficial nutrients more "bioavailable" (more adept at entering the body's circulation). But Sara Diana says it's more complicated than that. "Bioavailability is not just affected by fibre structures, it also depends on other factors such as acidity, nutrient antagonism and nutrient synergy."
Kirsty wonders why you'd want to get rid of the fibre. "It does make it easier for the body to digest," she says of juicing, "but one of the biggest benefits of fruit and veg is the fibre, which will be missing."
That being said, there's testimony upon testimony from people suffering with chronic illnesses or other health issues who swear celery juice has changed their lives. "I don't doubt that people with chronic illnesses who perhaps feel failed by conventional medicine try this and it does make them feel better," sympathises Kirsty. "It's something they can do to try and help with their condition... There's no harm in having celery juice but I wouldn't be advising people [to do it] instead of following advice from their doctor or any other medical professionals."
Compared to other wellness trends, at least celery juice doesn't have a big price tag – just £1 or so for the bunch of celery you need per juice. And the money is going to a supermarket or (if you're lucky enough to live near one) a greengrocer, rather than a company which stands to profit from your wellness. So hey, if you're juicing your celery each morning and you feel like it's working out A-OK for you, then go forth and juice. Just don't feel too bad if you skip a morning here and there.