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Is celery good or bad for constipation?

Constipation is a common condition affecting people of all ages. It occurs when stool passes through the large intestine too slowly, becoming hard, dry and difficult to eliminate. Constipation has many possible causes, including poor diet, inadequate fluid intake, lack of exercise, certain medications and various medical conditions.

Making dietary and lifestyle changes can often help relieve constipation. Many people find that eating more fiber-rich foods, like celery, helps move stool through the intestines. However, others report that raw, fibrous vegetables like celery can aggravate constipation in some cases. This article examines the evidence on whether celery is good or bad for constipation.

Celery Nutrition Facts

Celery is an extremely low-calorie vegetable made up of about 95% water. A single medium stalk (40 grams) contains only 6 calories.

Despite its low calorie and carb count, celery is packed with nutrients:

Nutrient Amount Per Serving
Fiber 1 gram
Vitamin K 14% DV
Folate 3% DV
Potassium 3% DV
Vitamin C 2% DV

Celery is an excellent source of vitamin K and a good source of folate, potassium, and vitamin C. It also contains small amounts of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

Fiber Content of Celery

The main nutrient in celery that impacts constipation is dietary fiber.

One medium stalk (40 grams) provides 1 gram of fiber, which is 4% of the Daily Value (DV). While this may not seem like much, celery is mostly water, so that 1 gram of fiber comes with very few digestible carbs.

The fiber found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes acts as a bulking agent. It adds mass to stool and helps move it through the intestines more easily.

Soluble fibers like pectin and gum also help stool absorb water, making it softer and easier to pass.

Celery Fiber Improves Constipation

Eating more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables like celery may relieve constipation in several ways:

  • Adds bulk: Fiber gives stool more volume, which stretches the intestines.
  • Softens stool: Soluble fiber absorbs water, helping stool stay soft and easy to pass.
  • Reduces transit time: Fiber shortens the time it takes for stool to move through the large intestine.
  • Increases contractions: The intestines contract more often when digesting high fiber foods.

For most forms of constipation, getting more fiber improves or eliminates symptoms. In one study, people with chronic constipation who ate a high fiber diet containing fruits, vegetables and whole grains experienced an increase in bowel movement frequency and improvement in stool consistency.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

According to dietary guidelines, adults should aim for 25–30 grams of fiber per day. Unfortunately, research shows over 90% of Americans fall short of this goal.

Below are the recommended intakes for fiber based on age and gender:

Age Male Female
19–50 years 38 grams/day 25 grams/day
51+ years 30 grams/day 21 grams/day

Making an effort to eat more celery and other high-fiber produce can help you reach your daily fiber goal.

Other Benefits of Celery

In addition to relieving constipation, celery provides other important health benefits:

  • Low calorie: Celery is very low in calories, so it can help with weight control.
  • Hydration: The high water content of celery can help you stay hydrated.
  • Nutrient-dense: Celery provides vitamin K, folate, potassium, vitamin C and beneficial plant compounds.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Compounds in celery may help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

Side Effects of Too Much Fiber

While fiber is healthy, it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. Eating large amounts can cause:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced mineral absorption

Sudden increases in fiber intake can also aggravate constipation in some instances. It’s best to increase your fiber intake slowly over several weeks.

Drinking enough water is equally important to prevent digestive discomfort. Get at least 2–3 liters of fluids per day as you increase your fiber intake.

Raw Vegetables May Worsen Some Types of Constipation

While fiber definitely helps relieve constipation for most people, some find that raw fruits and vegetables like celery make their symptoms worse.

Some possible reasons why raw produce aggravates constipation in certain cases:

  • Irritable bowel disorders: Some people are sensitive to high-fiber foods.
  • Dehydration: The high water content of celery may have a dehydrating effect if intake is excessive.
  • FODMAPs: Some people are sensitive to FODMAPs in celery.
  • Digestive difficulties: Those with dysmotility lack strong intestinal contractions.

Cooking fruits and vegetables can make them easier to digest. Yet, cooked celery loses some of its volume and water content.

Tips for Using Celery to Relieve Constipation

Here are some tips for adding celery to your diet to ease constipation:

  • Gradually increase fiber over several weeks.
  • Drink 2–3 liters of water and other fluids daily.
  • Eat fruits and vegetables cooked and raw.
  • Blend celery into smoothies.
  • Make celery juice.
  • Snack on celery sticks with nut butter.
  • Add chopped celery to salads, soups and recipes.

Other Natural Constipation Remedies

Increasing fiber intake is just one way to get things moving again. Other home remedies to treat constipation include:

  • Drink more water: Staying hydrated is vital for healthy bowel movements.
  • Exercise more: Any physical activity can stimulate the intestines.
  • Eat prunes: Prunes contain stool-softening sorbitol and fiber.
  • Try magnesium: Magnesium relaxes intestinal muscles for easier BMs.
  • Drink coffee: The caffeine in coffee stimulates contractions to move stool.
  • Up probiotics: Probiotic foods support healthy gut bacteria.

Laxatives and stool softeners can provide quick relief but should not be used long-term. See your doctor if your constipation persists.

Bottom Line

Celery is an excellent food to eat as part of a high fiber diet to relieve constipation. Its fiber content helps add bulk to stool, soften it and speed up transit time through the intestines.

However, some people find raw, fibrous veggies irritate their bowels. Make sure to drink plenty of fluids and increase fiber gradually as you add more celery and other produce to your diet.