My Thoughts on Wellness Trends, Celery Juice, and What 'Detoxification' Actually Is
I’m a multi-certified personal trainer and a certified nutrition coach, and have been for 1/4 of my life now. My personal philosophy is an all encompassing holistic perspective, particularly with the undeniably huge factor of mentality when it comes to wellness, but I stand firmly with science-based research and processes when it comes to navigating all things physiology and our biological systems. Sure, there are things that we are learning every single day with so very much we don’t yet know about the body— that’s why I try to steer clear of dogmatic/black + white answers; however, I generally need some form of data evidence and/or scientific reasoning to buy into things.
As someone who has been in the wellness industry since before it was trendy— before Soulcycle was known as household name, before anyone except Asians knew what matcha was, before body positivity was really mainstream— I have seen the gamut of wellness trends come and go. I also have heard and torn my hair out at the countless persistent fitness and nutrition myths that float around and lead people who are just trying to improve their health chasing their tail.
I’ve been asked many times from followers, media outlets, and friends about what my thoughts are on certain diets of the moment (paleo, keto, IF, etc.) and trends (bulletproof coffee, adaptogens, and now the infamous celery juice). I decided to put this blog post together to hopefully clarify my perspective that really applies to ALL trends, no matter the year— a perspective of understanding based on my education and experience over the past nearly 7 years in this industry. I am always a proponent of providing tools to people for them to make the right decision for themselves, rather than encouraging them to do or not do something.
I put this blog post together for you guys explaining how you can decide if you should/not try a wellness trend, how to go about it if you do, sharing my REAL thoughts on celery juice (I drank this for 4 weeks straight for you guys, that’s how you know I love you), and what ‘detoxification’ actually means. Here we goooooooo!
On wellness trends/nutrition fads: how do I know if it’s worth trying?
All your office mates and friends are buzzing about the latest fad trend and you see influencers splashing it all around Instagram. Should you try it? As with ANY goal or lifestyle choice, the first question I always ask is WHY. Why do you want to do it? What do you hope to get out of it? Is this something you’re hanging hopes onto for immediate results or you want to make a longterm change? Are you just doing it because it’s ‘cool’?
IF YOUR ANSWER IS BASED IN WEIGHT LOSS, YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A ‘CURE’ OR BECAUSE YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO MAKE YOU HEALTHY:
I know I said I’m not usually dogmatic but here I kinda am— because I’ve seen 7 years of training clients and not once has this ever worked for my clients, colleagues clients, or my friends. There is no shortcut to magically becoming healthier— it’s about just integrating one healthier habit at a time. 8 hours of consistent sleep + stress management OR eating 2 extra servings of veggies per day will do 10x more for your health than you cutting all carbs from your life and peeing on keto test strips every day. I promise.
IF YOUR ANSWER IS HEALTH CONCERN-BASED OR PURELY CURIOUS:
I know what it’s like to try everything and feel utterly desperate for answers. I’m all for trying different things to make you feel better to see how your body reacts. See below for guidelines on how to give it a real shot to see if it really works for you ↓
Ultimately though, the best diet for you? Is the one you’ll ACTUALLY do.
I’m also a big believer that you shouldn’t absolutely force yourself to eat something that tastes like absolute poison to you— for me, I take it as a sign that a food really does not jive well with my body chemistry. It’s like a primitive protective mechanism. For instance, I don’t have an actual allergy to cilantro (that I know of), but I may as well have one because any time I accidentally ingest it or honestly even smell it, I physically feel completely nauseous and have even vomited from it. If you hate kale, stop trying to choke it down. Try another leafy green. Not a fan of green smoothies? Stir spinach into your dinner stir fry instead.
There is not a linear path to integrating healthier choices.
If you have identified the reasons WHY you want to try this and they align with your goals, it’s important that you actually give it a proper go. Things to consider:
A lot of people try some things for a few days and then conclude if it did or didn’t work for them.
But scientifically, not all of your body’s systems are so quick to react and actually tell you what is effective and not. Our endocrine system (hormones!), our digestive systems, and skin all have different timetables in which they process and react to alterations. Some things change in a handful of days (like the hormone that helps signal thirst cues—did you know that existed?), while others take 2-3 weeks to take effect.
So if you go and try something new, whether it be keto, paleo, celery juicing, gut microbiome balancing, or what have you, you need to give it a fair and real shot to determine A) if it is effective and B) if it’s sustainable for you and your lifestyle. My suggestions to my clients are always 3 weeks minimum depending on what it is.
VARIABLES + CONSISTENCY
Remember, you should think of yourself as a science experiment. Let’s say you decide to try intermittent fasting, but during those 2 weeks you’re trying it out, you’re getting unusually crappy sleep and going out with friends a lot more than usual. You may conclude at the end that it didn’t work for you, because you don’t feel any differently. But the problem is that you didn’t keep your other variables (sleep and alcohol in this case) consistent enough with your norm to be able to tell if the intermittent fasting actually affected you for the better or worse.
You have to give it a fair shot and keep the other variables consistent. Just like dating— if it’s a horrible first dinner date because the restaurant was crowded + loud, service was rude, the food was awful, and damn Mercury is back in retrograde, it might not be the person sitting in front of you. Give it another fair shot.
Also with things like going gluten-free and keto, you will not be able to tell if you are actually helped or harmed by it if you stick to protocol for 3-4 days then go off the plan on the weekend. Gluten proteins linger around in the digestive tract for a long time (some research says upwards of 4-6 months!), and ketosis is a state of energy creation/usage in the body that you will get knocked right out of if you reunite with a basket of carbs.
What I really think about the Celery Juice situation
What you all have been waiting for after watching me gag down my first couple celery juices on my Instagram Stories 🤢🤣I drank between 10-16oz every day (I missed maybe 4 days total in 1 month!) on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. I decided I was a good guinea pig for this because I’m super tuned into my body, I have an autoimmune disease, and I’m someone who already eats well / leads a ‘healthier’ lifestyle.
Here are my highlights of my main personal thoughts before we get into the sciency stuff:
I thought it was absolutely disgusting the first day or two (background: I have hated raw celery my whole life and hadn’t eaten it in like 7 years) and the burps initially were so nasty. But shockingly, the taste actually started to become more bearable over time— and even pleasantly refreshing on certain days when freshly juiced and happened to luck out with a sweeter stalk of celery! I actually prefer it room temperature than cold, and while lemon juice definitely cuts back the celery taste, I don’t like it combined. It’s still no milkshake though.
I didn’t experience any purging, GI issues, or any discomfort other than some initial bloating from so much liquid right off the bat in the AM. This is highly likely because I already do a lot of other detoxification supporting practices and my body doesn’t need to purge much at the moment.
It made me have to pee about 10 times before noon most days.
The only difference in my skin I noticed was that it was staying more hydrated than it has usually been in the wintertime, but zero noticeable difference in breakouts than my usual. Maybe 5% better 🤣
Did notice more stable energy and less blood sugar spikes/crashes than I experience occasionally, but that is really due to increased hydration right off the bat in the AM.
Back up. What is this celery juice trend and what do people claim it does?
It all really started with Medical Medium making it a thing, and claiming it (along with his whole protocol) helps cure chronic illness, autoimmune disease + symptoms. He says to drink about 16oz of celery juice on an empty stomach every morning because it is anti-inflammatory, starves pathogens, and has ‘magnificent mineral salts’ that do everything from reducing blood pressure to eliminating viruses such as Epstein Barr (which by other major research has indeed been linked to autoimmune disease).
My personal opinion on celery juicing for health purposes
While I am not taking anything away from those who have benefitted from his protocols (because hey, that’s great, you’re feeling better!), I take great pause with attributing this much adulation to this juice. Why?
Most people don’t hydrate enough, especially in the morning, so adding this in will give you all the benefits of extra hydration (energy boost, blood sugar stabilization) and some added vitamins. Lemon water and eating leafy greens also do this!
There are indeed natural salts aka sodium in celery along with it being a natural diuretic. So this, just like anything else that also has those properties like salt, and even veggies like asparagus, will achieve similar things in the body.
If you’re drinking celery juice in attempts to better your health, I’m assuming it will also motivate you to try to not eat total shit. So you’re likely also feeling better because you’re encouraged to make better choices after starting your day with this— which, I totally get!
That’s my thing. It’s a TOOL. Like a lot of other foods. I personally don’t think at this time that there’s anything magical about celery juice specifically. I did this experiment because I am someone who is already leading a pretty healthy lifestyle, so I wanted to see if it would make any impact for me— because of course integrating this into the diet of someone who maybe doesn’t make optimal food choice will help them feel better in some ways!
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with giving it a try if you’re curious. It’s also cheap (in expensive NY, giant bundles of celery that will make about 16 oz of juice are usually under $2 at Whole Foods) comparatively to most juices. But I would never say that this is going to be a magic wand— just like no one food will be a magical wand. Otherwise we would have no illness in this world. But if you’re going to continue eating processed foods, not being active, and are expecting celery juice to change your life, don’t waste your time, money, or gag reflex. It is a supplementary tool, not a cure.
Will I continue to drink celery juice?
Honestly, probably will just because I weirdly enjoy it now and my boyfriend and I like starting our weekend mornings off with this little juicing ritual— but I won’t be pressuring myself to do it every day and I certainly don’t feel the need to do it for health purposes. I will do it as an occasional tool to get some extra hydration, minerals, and a reminder to hydrate right off the bat in the morning, as using it as one of my many tools to help support my liver and kidneys detoxification processes….which brings me to….
What detoxification is and what it is NOT
I tread very carefully when using the work “detox",” because for so many years, it was used as a diet term or as a trendy marketing catchphrase to sell horrible 7-day juice cleanses, diet pills, etc. It is none of that, and there is no magical “detox” substance, pill, juice, or trigger that just wipes your body’s slate clean. My autoimmune disease was actually one of my biggest teachers here in what detoxification really is.
What are toxins and where do toxins come from?
Toxins are essentially anything that harm the body. Unclean water, plastic bottled + containers of food and drink (BPAs), synthetic chemicals in household and bodycare products, mold, poor quality foods (artificial ingredients), pesticides, chemicals, vaping, smoking, (EMF (electromagnetic force) from electronics, and more. Excessive toxins with poor detoxification can lead to everything from impaired cognition, mental clarity, autoimmune issues, skin issues, impaired immunity, and more.
There are organs in all of our bodies that are responsible for churning out all the metabolic waste and ‘toxins’ that we are all exposed to daily. The thing is, depending on your lifestyle and genetics, your exposure to toxins can outweigh how well your body is handling detoxing them. For me personally, my kidney and liver weren’t in great condition during the height of my autoimmune disease (proven by blood tests), so I came to understand a lot of aids to support my liver and kidneys.
So THAT is really what any food or supplement that claims to “detox” your body does— it’s not that they wave a magic wand and eliminates toxins; rather, they make your liver and kidneys supported and therefore more efficient at doing their job. Here are the most common detox-supporting foods below:
Dandelion Root, Celery Juice, Cilantro, Parsley, and good ol’ water (bonus with lemon!)— think of these as liver + kidney cheerleaders that help support those lovely organs. Several of these also have diuretic properties— a lot of people associate the word ‘diuretic’ with water weight loss, and it’s actually more about encouraging excretion in the form of urine, and urine is one of the ways our bodies remove metabolic waste. So get ready to be that person who pees 500 times a day. It’s fine, this is the story of my life 😂Brassicas (cruciferous veggies), Spirulina, Chlorella, Charcoal and other binders— think of these as bodyguards that bind to toxic molecules in your body and walk them outta the club (your body).
Then things like infrared sauna, regular exercise, and REST/proper sleep help in spaaaaades. If you do start using any or many of these things though, I should give you a heads up about THE PURGE.
This phenomenon gets talked about a bit these days in skincare or deodorants when talking about transitioning over to clean beauty, but not so much when it comes to dietary changes/introductions. What I’m talking about is commonly referred to as the “purge.” When a lot of people switch over to natural skincare or deodorants, sometimes things get a little alarmingly worse for awhile before they get better. The logic is that your body is essentially pushing out or ‘purging’ all the synthetic and toxic buildup in your skin’s lil’ ecosystem.
What many people don’t realize though, is that the same thing happens when people try to improve their health in certain areas— particularly their gut + digestive health.
Often when you start doing liver detoxification supporting things like celery juice, dandelion tea, infrared sauna, you can experience peeing 492702 more times than usual (hello, natural diuretic effects), shitting your brains out (sorry if that got too graphic for ya, but it’s true), and a lot of breakouts on your skin. Think of it this way— some pipes that have some buildup are now getting some drain-o poured down them, and all of a sudden, things that have been happily camping out in there are suddenly coming out like it’s a water park slide. It can be rather alarming for some of us, and many people take it as a sign that “this doesn’t work for me.” But try to stick with it for those 3+ weeks and see if it indeed is just a purge phase or if it truly doesn’t agree with you.