It's healthy, extremely low in calories and great for weight loss, but can celery cause diarrhea?
Celery is a popular health-food. Some people will consume stalks of celery while others will guzzle celery juice for a variety of different reasons. But one thing is for sure, if you are consuming celery you are probably doing it for your health.
It's incredibly low in calories, containing only about 10.2 cal per large stalk and 16.2 per cup when chopped up. This is part of the reason it is so commonly consumed by people trying to lose weight, and of course because it helps fill you up to stop you from eating other high calorie foods.
That's great and all, but doesn't make you poop? Is it going to send you running to the bathroom more frequently than normal?
The answer is… Well… It "can", and the most likely culprit for this is its fiber content.
It's the Fiber That Is Mostly to Blame
Fiber, it provides no nutrition but we all need it in our diets, and unfortunately most of us don't get enough. According to the University of California San Francisco we should be getting 25 - 30 grams per day, but most adults only get about 15 grams.
Eating celery will provide you with both soluble and insoluble fiber. Fiber consists of carbohydrates that cannot be broken down by the digestive system. It provides no real nutritional value, but can be very helpful in digestion.
The fact that celery is low in calories and provides a decent source of fiber is another reason that it is a great choice for weight loss.
The reason fiber is helpful and the reason everyone needs fiber is because it helps keep the digestive process running along smoothly. It helps the colon absorb water and also adds bulk to the stool, which leads to softer and easier-to-pass bowel movements. Not only does this mean much less stressful trips to the bathroom, but it is also much healthier for your body and allows for better nutrient absorption of the food you eat.
HOWEVER... Of course everything you want in moderation, including fiber. Getting too much of this often leads to loose and watery stools, aka diarrhea. And... If you are eating celery like a madman or madwoman, you might be getting too much.
How Much Fiber is in Celery?
Self Nutrition Data lists a medium sized celery stalk (7.5 - 8" long) at 0.6 g of fiber, which is about 3% of the daily value.
Now that really isn't too much, but of course it all depends on how much you are eating. That is just one medium-sized stalk and if you are getting a lot of fiber elsewhere in your diet could tip the scales a little bit too far.
Couple this fiber content with the fact that there really isn't much else to this food and it is more likely to cause loose stools.
As mentioned, the amount of fiber you can take greatly depends on how much food you are eating total. If you are a sumo wrestler consuming a massive diet, then you will be able to have a very high fiber intake and still maintain healthy bowel movements; yet if you are a marathon runner who doesn't eat all that much, you are not going to be able to consume as much fiber without getting diarrhea.
And then of course you have to account for the fact that everyone is different. Some people's bodies are much more sensitive than others.
To combat this potential cause you can counteract a diet that is too high in fiber with low fiber foods from this list.
Other Potential Reasons for Diarrhea
Overall it definitely seems that if you're getting diarrhea from celery, it is more than likely coming from an intake of fiber that is a little bit too high.
However, there are a couple other things that could be the cause as well, or at least could help perpetuate the condition.
High in water
Celery also has a very high water content, with about 95% of its weight being water. Now there are a few other vegetables and fruits out there, such as cucumbers, that have even higher water content, but overall that is pretty darn high.
Diarrhea happens when you have loose and watery stool… See you can imagine how this could help cause such an effect.
Celery it is also known to help purge the liver, which means that it helps rid the liver of toxins from your body. This will increase the release of urine and can also cause more loose stools as toxins are being excreted.
Consuming celery juice as a way to detox is pretty popular and there have also been reports of diarrhea from people doing such.
So is it from the high fiber content, the high amount of water, or the detoxing going on that you might get diarrhea?? It's hard to say for sure, but it could be a combination of all 3.
But... Overall It's Good for You
Yes, celery does possess the capability to cause diarrhea, but is it really going to cause it?
For most people the answer is probably not.
Overall celery is a very healthy food and can actually be very beneficial to your gut and overall digestive health.
As mentioned earlier, it provides both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber is soluble in water and is broken down by colon bacteria, which results in the production of some energy as well as fatty acids. One of the fatty acids produced is butyrate, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. This is good for IBD which has the side effect of diarrhea among others and overall great for anyone.
The fiber content provided can also help support healthy blood sugar levels.
And besides all of that, celery is also great because it is…
- Rich in vitamins
- Has over a dozen antioxidants
- Lots of anti-inflammatory compounds
- Good for high cholesterol and high blood pressure
- Helps cleanse the liver (It's considered a diuretic)
To Eat or Not To Eat?
Or I guess I should also say to drink or not to drink?… Because a lot of people reading this are probably wondering if consuming celery juice is going to lead to diarrhea.
For most people the answer is "to eat" or "to drink". Keep eating pr drinking celery because it is going to be much more beneficial than harmful.
However, if you are one of the few that are getting diarrhea from it, and you are really certain that it is the celery that is to blame, then I would first suggest running an elimination diet just to really make sure that this is the cause. Basically what you would do here is eliminate certain foods from your diet and then reintroduce them back into your diet, all the while observing the symptoms you are trying to eliminate. You can read more about how to go about an elimination diet here.
Diarrhea is not healthy and if you are experiencing extreme cases of such, you should stop eating celery altogether and it might even be a good idea to consult with a doctor.