Celery is a commonly consumed vegetable that is enjoyed for its crunchy texture and mild flavor. However, some people report experiencing gas and bloating after eating celery. In this article, we’ll take a look at the evidence surrounding celery and digestive issues to find out if celery really does cause gas and bloating.
What is Celery?
Celery is a marshland plant that belongs to the Apiaceae family, along with carrots, parsley and fennel. The edible parts of celery are the leafy green stalks that join at a common base. Celery has been cultivated for thousands of years and was used medicinally by ancient civilizations before becoming popular as a food.
There are three main varieties of celery:
- Pascal celery – This is the most common supermarket variety. Pascal celery has tender, crisp stalks with a mild, fresh taste.
- Leaf celery – Leaf celery is grown for its leaves and has a stronger, more aromatic flavor. The stalks are thinner than pascal celery.
- Celeriac – Celeriac is grown for its root, which has a bulbous hypocotyl. The swollen hypocotyl is used as a root vegetable with a flavor similar to celery root.
In terms of nutrition, celery is low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. A 100 gram serving provides just 14 calories. It’s high in vitamin K, folate, potassium and vitamin C. Celery also contains phenolic antioxidants such as caffeic acid, ferulic acid and apigenin. These beneficial plant compounds have anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and cancer-protective effects in the body.
Does Celery Cause Gas and Bloating?
Many people do report increased gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort after eating celery. But why does this happen? There are a few reasons why celery may cause digestive issues for some people:
Celery is a good source of insoluble fiber, providing 1-2 grams per stalk. Fiber is linked to many health benefits, but increasing fiber intake too quickly can cause gas and bloating.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance in the gut. It helps soften stools and promotes regularity. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve and adds bulk to stool. It helps food pass more quickly through the digestive system.celery cause gas bloating.
Eating high-fiber foods like celery can increase gas production. The bacteria in your colon must ferment the fiber you eat, which produces gases like carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen as byproducts. These accumulated gases lead to bloating, pain and flatulence.
FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) are a group of carbohydrates that some people have difficulty digesting. Celery contains small amounts of the FODMAPs fructose and mannitol.
When FODMAPs aren’t properly absorbed in the small intestine, they travel to the colon where they serve as food for gut bacteria. This leads to fermentation and gas production when eaten in excess.
For those sensitive to FODMAPs, celery and other high FODMAP foods may aggravate digestive issues like gas and bloating.
Food allergies can sometimes cause gastrointestinal symptoms like gas, bloating and abdominal pain after eating trigger foods. Celery allergies are uncommon but can occur. Celery contains four known allergenic proteins that may trigger allergic reactions in sensitized individuals.
Celery is naturally low in sodium. However, many people eat celery stalks with dips, spreads and seasonings that are high in sodium. The average American diet is very high in sodium, providing over 3,400 mg per day.
Too much sodium causes the body to retain water, which can lead to fluid accumulation and bloating. Sodium-sensitive individuals may experience increased gas and bloating from salty foods like celery with dip.
Calcium Oxalate Crystals
Celery contains a compound called calcium oxalate. Calcium oxalate can form crystals that irritate the gut lining and provoke digestive issues in sensitive individuals. Juicing or cooking celery helps break down these crystals.
Celery contains other bioactive compounds like psoralen and bergapten that can exacerbate symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). These sensitizing chemicals may stimulate muscle contractions and trigger spasms in the GI tract, causing discomfort.
Tips to Reduce Celery Gas and Bloating
Here are some tips to help prevent gas and bloating from celery:
- Introduce celery gradually – Increase celery portion sizes slowly to allow your body time to adjust to the fiber content.
- Chew thoroughly – Chew celery pieces well to aid digestion.
- Try celery juice – Juicing releases nutrients but removes insoluble fiber that can cause gas.
- Cook celery – Cooking breaks down insoluble fiber that triggers bloating.
- Limit portion size – Stick to 1-2 celery stalks per serving.
- Remove strings – The stringy fibers are difficult to break down and can increase gas.
- Use low-FODMAP dip – Choose dips and spreads low in FODMAPs.
- Avoid if allergic – Prevent celery if you have a confirmed allergy.
- Reduce sodium – Select low-sodium seasonings and avoid adding table salt.
Monitoring your individual response to celery and using these preventive tips can help reduce unpleasant gas and bloating.
Factors That Affect Celery Gas and Bloating
Certain factors affect how likely you are to experience gas and bloating from celery:
People with low fiber diets are more prone to gas and bloating when they increase their fiber intake. Your body needs time to adjust to a higher fiber diet to improve fiber tolerance.
|Low fiber diet
|High fiber diet
Those with IBS or intolerance to FODMAPs like fructans are more likely to experience gas and bloating from celery’s FODMAP content.
|Not FODMAP intolerant
Allergies to Celery
People with celery allergy are at greatest risk of gas, bloating and GI upset from celery. Reactions can be severe.
|No celery allergy
Those with GI conditions like IBS, colitis or leaky gut syndrome tend to be more prone to gas and bloating when eating celery.
Other Food Intolerances
People with multiple food intolerances and sensitivities are more likely to react to celery with digestive upset.
|Other Food Intolerances
|No other intolerances
When to See a Doctor
In most cases, the gas and bloating from celery is temporary and improves with preventive measures. However, see your doctor if you experience:
- Severe or persistent pain
- Diarrhea lasting over 2 days
- Vomiting or inability to keep food down
- Signs of allergic reaction like rash, swelling or difficulty breathing
- Unintentional weight loss
- Black, tarry stools
These symptoms could indicate an underlying digestive disorder, food allergy or intolerances that require medical diagnosis. Your doctor can test for sensitivities and rule out other conditions.
The Bottom Line
Celery is a healthy, low-calorie vegetable rich in nutrients. However, it does contain insoluble fiber, FODMAPs and other compounds that may cause gas, bloating and stomach discomfort in some individuals.
Eating celery in moderation, cooking it thoroughly, and monitoring your personal tolerance can help reduce unwanted digestive symptoms. People with IBS, food allergies or low fiber diets are most prone to gas and bloating from celery.
So while celery can aggravate digestion in certain cases, it can typically be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet for most people when appropriate portion sizes and preventive steps are followed. But if you have severe or persistent GI symptoms after eating celery, consult your doctor to identify any underlying causes or food intolerances.