Nutrition

Celery Juicing: The Real Deal or a Fad?

While juicing is nothing new to the health and wellness industry, the unprecedented take-off of celery juice has turned the water-filled, low-calorie vegetable into an overnight sensation. Celery juicing has driven the average price of a carton of celery juice from just $20 at the start of 2019, to more than $60 in early April, per Produce Retailer.

The popularity of celery juicing can be largely attributed to “medical medium” Anthony William, who recently published his book “Celery Juice: The Most Powerful Medicine of Our Time Healing Millions Worldwide.” He advises drinking 16 ounces of celery juice each morning on an empty stomach.

Alongside celebrity endorsements, William has gained widespread fame, spurring hundreds of thousands of #CeleryJuice hashtags on Instagram. 

Williams has been touting celery juice since the 70s, citing its ability to address “all manner of ills—mental, physical, spiritual, emotional" because celery juice is "alkalizing, enzyme-rich, electrolyte-enhancing, liver-repairing, blood-sugar-balancing, antiseptic and more,” he says. He attributes the elixir’s ability to heal to “undiscovered sodium subgroups,” or “sodium cluster salts,” which he says cannot be obtained by eating whole celery, and flushes out toxins, dead pathogens, pathogenic neurotoxins and debris from the body, per Mind Body Green.

Celery juice enthusiasts rave about how their morning ritual has cleared chronic health issues such as brain fog, anxiety, Crohn’s disease, joint pain and multiple sclerosis.

While there is no shortage of booming reviews on celery juice, since the reviews are anecdotal, largely based on personal experiences shared online, some skeptics demand more controlled research on celery juicing before making any big claims. That said, there is supportive research on the phyto-chemicals in celery, which have been shown to help reduce blood pressure and inflammation, and fight against oxidative stress, as noted by HealthLine.

Choosing celery juice in place of a higher-calorie, or more sugar-dense drink, smoothie or snack could also help individuals shed pounds, achieve clearer skin, and curb their appetite.

Celery juice itself contains Vitamins A, B-2, B-6, C and K, as well as folate, calcium, potassium, sodium, magnesium, phosphorus, electrolytes, water and other vitamins and minerals. Given its electrolyte content, and the fact that celery is 95% water, drinking it absolutely aids in hydration -- which has its own multitude of benefits.

Few studies have looked into whether celery juice itself improves one’s health. Rather, they have focused on the health benefits of specific nutrients in celery, particularly apigenin and luteolin, per Medical News Today.

Research suggests that these powerful antioxidants can help ease asthma and rhinitis, and may offer protection against certain brain diseases and neurodegeneration, as well as halt the growth of some types of cancer cells in animal studies, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and improve cardiovascular health.

The chemical nutrients called phytonutrients contain the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties raved about online.

It’s important to note that when celery is juiced, it loses its fiber content, which provides a wealth of benefits for functions such as digestion and blood sugar stabilization.

Ultimately, the simple act of drinking the juice, widely believed to improve health outcomes, can spark the placebo effect, shown to sharpen focus and riase energy levels.

Critics note that the quick-fix mentality, while appealing to many, goes against the fact that there is no food in isolation that is a cure-all. Individuals should continue to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly and consult their trusted nutritionists and registered specialists to address their unique situation.

While drinking the juice of a bundle of celery stocks a day likely won’t hurt you, most doctors recommend loading up on all types of fresh vegetables, including a diverse group of leafy greens.


Paula Recommends ...Cherry Tomato & Watermelon Salad with Feta & Mint

We call this "Summer in a Bowl."  It's salty and sweet, with a hint of acidity. Make it with the best tomatoes you can find, a cold watermelon, less dressing than you would think and, if you can find it, Bulgarian feta (we found it at Whole Foods). Yellow tomatoes are a great choice for this dish because they are so visually striking against the dark pink of the watermelon. The combination of flavors and textures in this cooling salad is superb. This quick and easy seasonal dish is packed with vitamins, plant phytochemicals as well as calcium and a dose of healthy fats. Enjoy it as a starter or as a side dish to grilled shrimp. - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

Ingredients
1 mini seedless watermelon, about 4 lbs
1 3/4 lb heirloom tomatoes, sliced
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced
2 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
3 ounces of feta cheese, crumbled (preferably Bulgarian feta)
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves

Directions
1. Remove the rind from the watermelon and cut into 3-inch edges, then thinly slice.

2. In a large, shallow serving bowl, gently toss together the watermelon, tomato and cucumber slices. Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the mixture.

3. Sprinkle with the feta cheese and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings

Note: If you have leftovers, feel free to put it in the blender for a refreshing gazpacho variation the next day. 

 


The Cancer-Fighting Properties in Cruciferous Vegetables

A growing body of evidence supports the benefits of a diet rich in natural foods. Emphasizing fruits and vegetables while steering clear of processed foods, meat and sugary products, can radically decrease our chances of getting sick while supporting optimal health and longevity.

One family of vegetables, however, is particularly cut out to help us fight cancer, according to various reports. These nutrient-rich foods are not only high in carotenoids, vitamins C, E and K, folate, minerals and fiber, but they also contain a group of sulfur-containing substances called glucosinolates that are broken down to form biologically active compounds such as indoles, nitriles, thiocyanates and isothiocyanates (ITCs).

Compound Found in Broccoli, Radishes and Other Veggies Used to Slow Tumor Growth

A recent study published by Science showed that the disease-fighting ingredient known as indole-3 carbinol (I3C) and found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, was able to inhibit tumor growth by impacting a cancer-causing gene called WWPI.

By analyzing another gene called PTEN, which aids in stopping tumor growth but gets shut off in some individuals, researchers found that the WWP1 releases an enzyme that stops PTEN from functioning as it should.

That’s where the I3C ingredient in cruciferous vegetables comes into play. Researchers found that it could serve as a potential antidote to the detrimental effects of the WWPI gene, by stopping WWPI from working and aiding PTEN in slowing tumor growth.

While the study notes that to get the full benefit, you’d have to eat six pounds of raw cruciferous vegetables, Yu-Ru Lee, PhD., author of the paper, says that it “paves the way toward a long-sought tumor suppressor reactivation approach to cancer treatment.”

The study helps support previous research that highlights the cancer-fighting properties of these vegetables. According to The National Cancer Institute, the indoles and isothiocyanates in cruciferous vegetables have been found to inhibit the development of cancer in animal organs including the bladder, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach.

In a blog post, Joel Fuhrman, MD, cited various studies that showed ITC-rich cruciferous vegetables protected against cancer. For example, one study found that 28 servings of vegetables per week lowered the risk of prostate cancer by 35%, while just three servings of cruciferous vegetables per week decreased risk by 46%. Another study showed that one serving of cruciferous vegetables per day lowered the risk of breast cancer by more than 50%.

The cruciferous vegetable family includes greens such as kale, broccoli, Brussesl sprouts and bok choy, as well as cauliflower, watercress, radishes, cabbage, and more.


Paula Recommends ...Pan Roasted Tomato & Chickpea Salad

This savory and slightly sweet salad fits the bill. The peppery arugula and fresh basil served with warm citrus dressing and pan roasted tomatoes provide a hint of summer and plenty of comfort, along with protein, vitamin C, lycopene, fiber and potassium. - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

Ingredients
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄4 cup orange juice
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1⁄2 teaspoon Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 cups baby arugula
2 cups basil leaves
One 15 oz can no salt added chickpeas, drained

Directions
1. In a large non-stick pan, sauté the tomatoes, cut side down, in 1 Tablespoon of the oil until well browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve.

2. Add the remaining oil and sauté the garlic for 30 seconds. Stir in the orange juice and simmer to reduce by half, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar, salt and plenty of black pepper.

3. Toss the arugula and basil leaves with the dressing and top with the tomatoes and chickpeas.

Note: Makes 4 (2 cup) servings

Nutritional info: Per serving: 230 calories, 12g total fat (1.5g saturated fat), 25g carbohydrate, 7g protein, 5g dietary fiber, 270 mg sodium.


Paula Recommends ...Celery, Sunchoke, Green Apple Salad with Walnuts & Mustard Vinaigrette

Crispy and refreshing, this delicious salad is loaded with complex tastes and flavors that will delight your family or guests. The ingredients will hold up well if made ahead and dressed just before serving. - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

Ingredients
1⁄2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
4 large celery stalks, peeled and thinly sliced, and 1⁄4 cup leaves chopped
1 head fennel, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthwise, fronds reserved
1 large sunchoke (5 oz) peeled and thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and thinly
sliced
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Dijon style mustard
1 garlic clove, grated through a fine grater or minced
2 tablespoons honey
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions
1. Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, 3 to 4 minutes. (Be careful not to burn.)
2. Place sliced celery, fennel, sunchoke and apple in a bowl of cold water. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice and refrigerate.
3. In a small bowl, combine remaining lemon juice, mustard, garlic, honey and salt. Whisk in oil and season with pepper.
4. Drain chilled celery, fennel and sunchokes and dry in a salad spinner or blot with a paper towel.
5. Combine celery, fennel, sunchoke, celery leaves, walnuts and apples.
6. Toss with dressing before serving.
7. Garnish with fennel fronds.

Nutrition information: Serves 6. Per serving: 170 calories, 15g total fat (1.8 g saturated fat) 8g carbohydrate, 2g protein, 2.5g dietary fiber.


The Health Benefits of Cayenne Pepper

Not only is cayenne pepper a popular spice that can be used to jazz up a variety of meals, it also offers a great number of health benefits, ranging from better digestion to improved immunity.

Cayenne pepper, a type of chilli pepper brought from Central and South America to Europe in the 15th Century, has been used medicinally for thousands of years, per Healthline. Cayenne contains a variety of antioxidants and vitamins. Its active ingredient, capsaicin, is what gives the peppers their healing properties -- as well as their fiery taste.

Cayenne pepper has been used for its ability to boost digestion and help avoid stomach aches, gas and cramps. Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, an ancient system of medicine from India, both recommend cayenne to stimulate the flow of stomach secretions and saliva, per Organic Foods. It also facilitates the production of digestive enzymes that help break down food and toxins, per Dr. Axe, citing reputable sources.

As for weight loss and weight management, many studies show that cayenne pepper may reduce hunger, and help individuals eat less and feel satiated longer. One study found that individuals who drank a beverage with capsaicin ate 16% less than those who didn’t, while another found that it reduced the production of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Cayenne has also been shown to increase metabolism, through a process called diet-induced thermogenesis.

Various studies indicate that capsaicin may serve as an anti-cancer agent. The capsaicin in cayenne pepper may reduce the risk of cancer by attacking different pathways in the cancer cell growth process, per Healthline. Studies have demonstrated that the active ingredient can slow the growth of cancer cells and in some instances cause cell death for a range of cancers including prostate, pancreatic and skin. It’s important to note however, that human studies are needed before any conclusion can be made.

Other findings support cayenne’s use in lowering blood pressure and improving blood circulation, reducing pain including headaches and arthritis, boosting the body’s ability to protect itself against sickness and disease, alongside other healing properties. 


Paula recommends ...Smoothie with Pineapple, Arugula, Greens and Cashews

This smoothie was a hands-down favorite among members at the Mission Training Center, our incubator for best practices in programs for survivors. It is delicious, nutritious, and oh-so-quick-and-easy to prepare. The pineapple's sweetness can stand alone as a fruit to combine with the pungent greens. The cashews add protein, healthy fat and a creamy-ness that makes this seem decadent. A slice of ginger also adds valuable nutrients and really pumps up the flavor. With orange juice as a base, this is dairy-free and gluten-free. It’s best to use the pungent, feathery wild arugula. We used a baby greens mix that included a herb mix. - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

Ingredients
1⁄4 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks (about 6 ounces peeled and cored pineapple)
3⁄4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (or the juice that accumulates after cutting up the pineapple mixed with enough orange juice to equal 3⁄4 cup)
2 Tablespoons raw cashews (about 3⁄4 cup)
1⁄2 teaspoon chia seeds
1⁄4 cup tightly packed arugula (about 1⁄4 ounce)
3⁄4 cup tightly packed baby mixed greens (about 1 1⁄2 ounces)
1 quarter size slice ginger, peeled
2 or 3 ice cubes

Directions
1. Place all of the ingredients in a blender and blend for 1 minute, or until smooth.

Note: Makes one generous serving or 2 medium sized servings (cut the numbers below in half if serving 2).

Nutritional info: 328 calories; 12 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 53 grams carbohydrates; 7 grams dietary fiber; 16 milligrams sodium, 8 grams protein. 


Paula Recommends ...Black Bean & Barley Salad

Looking for creative ways to use healthy fats like those in olive or canola oil? Packed with vibrant colors and contrasting textures, this hearty salad makes a tasty, nutritious and economical side dish. The optional avocado (one of the few fruits that provide healthy fats) adds 3.3 grams of monounsaturated fat and 0.6 grams of polyunsaturated fat per serving. - Paula Meyer, Mission Training Center Nutritionist 

Ingredients

3/4 cup quick-cooking barley
1 cup water
1 and 1/4 cups frozen corn niblets
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil or canola oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tobasco, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 and 1/2 cups cooked dried black beans OR 15 ounce can black beans, dried and rinsed
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup chopped  fresh cilantro or  parsley
2 avocado
1 lime

Directions
1. Combine barley and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer until barley is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes. Fluff with a fork; let cool. (Pearl barley can also be used -- allow 50 to 60 minutes for cooking.)

2. Meanwhile, cook corn according to package directions. Drain and refresh under cold running water.

3. Combine orange juice, vinegar oil, cumin, oregano, garlic, hot sauce and salt in a small bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid; whisk or shake to blend.

4. Combine barley, corn, beans, bell pepper, scallions and cilantro or parsley in a large bowl.

5. Add orange juice dressing and toss to coat well. (Salad will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to two days.)

6. Just before serving, garnish with avocado, if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

Nutritional information: Makes eight servings. Per serving: 283 calories; 15 grams total fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 188 milligrams sodium; 34 grams carbohydrate; 9.85 grams fiber; 6.4 grams protein.

If dividing into eight servings. Per serving: 377 calories; 20 grams total fat; 2.7 grams saturated fat; 250 milligrams sodium; 45 grams carbohydrate; 13 grams fiber; 8.5 grams protein.


Intermittent Fasting: Key Points You Need to Know

One of the hottest topics in the health and fitness space is intermittent fasting, a lifestyle choice wherein individuals choose to halt their intake of calories for specific periods of time. Many studies now show that the practice can not only drastically improve mind-body health, but can increase longevity, per Healthline, citing various evidence-based sources.

As opposed to traditional diets, which create boundaries around what one can eat, intermittent fasting emphasizes the when. The most common methods include daily 16-hour fasts and an 8-hour window of eating, or fasting for a full 24-hours twice per week.

Despite what we’ve been told about the importance of three meals a day, eating constantly may be further away from our nature than we think. Throughout evolution, humans have typically gone long periods without eating, and many of our health issues now come from a world where endless options are available to most of us at the touch of a button. More Americans struggle with obesity than ever, and the epidemic is spreading worldwide. Meanwhile, big food and beverage corporations and weight loss companies continue to have a hold over the media that we consume. Since there are very few products and services for purchase tied to fasting, many of us have only just heard about the topic through the web or word of mouth.

It’s important to note that proper intermittent fasting means one does not overcompensate in the windows of eating to “make up for” the skipped meals, and therefore all of the methods typically result in weight loss due to lower calorie intake.

Mind-Body Benefits

The less obvious benefits of fasting include what it does to the body on a cellular and molecular level. For example, levels of growth hormone rise as much as 5-fold, aiding in fat loss and muscle gain. Insulin sensitivity improves, lowering blood sugar by 3% to 6%, and fasting insulin levels by as much as 31%. Additionally, studies show that fasting leads cells to initiate cellular repair processes, and increases the function of genes related to longevity and fighting off disease.

Short-term fasting contributes to weight loss not only due to lower calorie intake, but also from the release of the fat-burning hormone norepinephrine. Studies show intermittent fasting can increase metabolic rate by 3.5% to 14%, and reduce harmful belly fat which can build up around organs and cause disease.

Inflammation, a primary culprit of may chronic diseases, has also been shown to be reduced by short-term fasting. Various animal studies demonstrate that the practice can significantly prevent cancer. In studies involving rats, the animals who short-term fasted lived 36% to 83% longer. As for brain health, short-term fasting has been shown to increase levels of the brain hormone BDNF, and may aid the growth of new nerve cells, and protect against Alzheimer’s. Additionally, fasting has been shown to reduce bad LDL cholesterol, blood triglycerides, inflammatory markers, blood sugar and insulin resistance, which all contribute to heart disease.

Other Factors to Consider

Other benefits of fasting include positive lifestyle changes, aiding to simplicity in routine and making meal prep and planning less time consuming, costly, and thus more manageable and easy to maintain.

Those who are currently underweight, have a medical condition, or have a history of eating disorders should consult with a health professional before fasting.

Ultimately, there is no one size fits all for a health and wellness regime, and individuals should continue to focus on quality sleep, healthy foods and exercising regularly. For those interested in trying out a new system with proven health benefits, and which also serves as a powerful weight loss tool, intermittent fasting may be a great option.