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Stalk of celery and celery juice

Research has found that celery can improve blood circulation, says nutritionist John Bagnulo, MPH, PhD, of the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C. “Celery contains lots of potassium nitrate, which promotes the dilation of blood vessels,” he explains.

As for its effects on gut health, especially in juice form, there are good reasons to believe it’s beneficial, but only limited research backs that belief.

“Celery has organic chemical compounds called coumarins that have been shown to have real antimicrobial effects against Clostridia and Listeria bacteria,” he says. Both bacteria can cause troublesome infections.

One study reported that consuming juice containing celery as well as other veggies resulted in improved gut health, including “fewer of the microbes associated with obesity, autoimmune issues, and inflammation, and more of the commensal, or beneficial, microbes,” he notes.

In one animal study specifically focused on celery juice, “Chinese researchers found that it protected the mucus layer of the gastric wall in rats. That’s important because the mucus layer, in turn, protects the stomach from ulcers caused by harmful bacteria.”

While research is promising, if scant, Bagnulo reports that his patients tell him “they really feel great digestively with celery juice.”

He cautions, however, that it would be a mistake to interpret the popularity of celery juice as a sign that it’s a panacea for gut problems or other nutritional issues. Variety remains the key to benefiting from plant-based foods, he points out, so don’t skimp on spinach and dark leafy greens, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other veggies just because you’re enjoying celery juice.

And although you’re getting plenty of celery’s benefits by consuming it in juice form, you’re missing out on most of its fiber, which helps prevent constipation and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other ills.

Another downside to keep in mind: sun sensitivity. “When the coumarins in celery juice get into circulation, they can increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight and result in sunburn.”

This originally appeared as “Lots of people are posting on social media about celery juice and how it’s helped heal their guts. What’s the story?” in the June 2019 print issue of Experience Life.

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