Bloating is a common digestive complaint that can leave you feeling uncomfortable and self-conscious. It’s characterized by a swollen, tight abdomen and a sensation of excess gas in your stomach and intestines. While bloating can sometimes indicate an underlying health condition, it’s often caused by simple diet and lifestyle factors.
Celery is a low-calorie, fiber-rich vegetable that’s often touted as a natural remedy for bloating. This article explores whether celery can really help relieve bloating and the science behind how it works.
What Causes Bloating?
Bloating is most commonly caused by:
- Swallowing air when eating or drinking
- Food intolerance or allergy
- Overgrowth of gut bacteria
- Medications like antidepressants or painkillers
- Medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or chronic pancreatitis
Certain foods are also more likely to cause bloating, especially in people with food intolerances. These include:
- Beans, lentils and legumes
- Wheat and gluten grains
- Dairy products
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
- Onions, garlic and leeks
- Carbonated beverages
- Artificial sweeteners
How Might Celery Help with Bloating?
Celery contains certain nutrients and compounds that may help relieve bloating in several ways:
Celery is rich in insoluble fiber, providing 1–2 grams per stalk. Fiber adds bulk to stool and helps food move through your digestive tract more quickly.
This can help relieve constipation, a major cause of bloating. Fiber also feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut, which assists digestion and gut health.
Has Antimicrobial Effects
Celery contains polyphenols, including flavones like apigenin and luteolin. Test-tube studies show these plant compounds combat harmful bacteria and fungi in your gut.
An overgrowth of unhealthy gut bacteria can cause bloating, so celery may help by keeping your gut microbiome in balance.
Celery is rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene and manganese. These help protect your cells against unstable molecules called free radicals that can damage your digestive tract.
This antioxidant effect can reduce inflammation in your gut, which may improve bloating.
Acts as a Natural Diuretic
Celery seeds contain an oil that has diuretic effects. This means it can make you urinate more frequently, potentially relieving water retention.
Decreasing water retention may partially explain why celery appears to reduce bloating.
Does Research Support Celery for Bloating?
Very few studies have looked specifically at celery for bloating. However, several studies note celery’s positive effects on digestion and gut health:
- In a 2-week study, rats fed celery extract had increased levels of beneficial gut bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
- Other rat studies note celery’s ability to prevent stomach ulcers and reduce inflammation in the gut.
- One test-tube study found that celery compounds inhibited the growth of Helicobacter pylori, a bacteria linked to digestive issues.
While promising, more research is needed to understand how celery may impact bloating in humans when eaten as part of a balanced diet.
Tips for Using Celery to Reduce Bloating
Here are some tips on using celery to minimize bloating:
1. Eat in moderation
Eat just a few celery stalks at a time. Consuming too much insoluble fiber at once can make bloating worse.
2. Drink plenty of non-carbonated fluids
Stay well hydrated and limit carbonated beverages, which can contribute to bloating.
3. Choose organic
Minimize pesticide exposure by selecting organic celery when possible.
4. Try juicing
Drink fresh celery juice on an empty stomach to enhance digestion.
5. Use both the stalks and leaves
Celery leaves offer nutritional benefits too, so don’t throw them away.
6. Combine with other bloat-fighting foods
For best results, eat celery alongside other gas-relieving foods like ginger, fennel, parsley or peppermint.
Other Evidence-Based Remedies for Bloating
Along with celery, several other natural remedies can help relieve bloating. Some evidence-based approaches include:
Take a probiotic
Probiotics support healthy gut bacteria. Some studies show probiotics from foods or supplements can reduce bloating.
A low FODMAP diet restricts fermentable carbs that can cause bloating. Follow this diet under a dietitian’s guidance.
Regular exercise stimulates the movement of gas through the digestive tract.
Stress worsens bloating for some people. Try yoga, meditation or deep breathing techniques.
Avoid chewing gum
Chewing gum causes you to swallow excess air, which can lead to bloating.
Use activated charcoal
Activated charcoal supplements may absorb gas from your intestines and provide relief.
Foods to Avoid for Reduced Bloating
On top of choosing bloat-fighting foods like celery, avoiding certain foods and ingredients can minimize gas and distension. Foods to limit include:
|Food group||Foods to avoid|
|Beans and legumes||Chickpeas, kidney beans, baked beans, soybeans|
|Dairy||Milk, soft cheese, ice cream|
|Wheat||Bread, pasta, cereals containing wheat|
|Vegetables||Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, onions|
|Fruits||Apples, peaches, pears|
|Sweeteners||Fructose, sorbitol, xylitol|
|Drinks||Beer, carbonated beverages|
When to See a Doctor
Occasional mild bloating after eating is usually nothing to worry about. However, see your doctor if you experience:
- Bloating that occurs regularly or persists for days/weeks
- Bloating along with diarrhea, constipation or weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing or abdominal pain with bloating
- Bloating that worsens with eating
Persistent or severe bloating may be a sign of an underlying medical condition that requires treatment.
The Bottom Line
Celery is a low-calorie vegetable rich in fiber, antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds. By supporting healthy digestion and gut bacteria, celery may help reduce bloating.
For best results, eat celery raw or juiced along with other gut-healthy foods. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids and get regular exercise as well.
While celery can be a beneficial natural remedy for bloating, see your doctor if symptoms are frequent or interfere with your daily life.