Natural Heartburn Remedies – Does Celery Reduce Heartburn?
In this new series, we will be evaluating the validity and effectiveness of a variety of home heartburn remedies. Many people swear by their own heartburn remedies, but do they really work?
Side note: Our favorite remedies are Chewing Gum and vinegar – find out why on the Heartburn Remedies homepage.
Without further ado, we will be examining the validity behind the use of celery as a natural heartburn remedy.
Celery as a Natural Heartburn Remedy
The general theory behind this natural heartburn remedy is that celery is alkaline, and as such has the capacity to neutralize stomach acid. Is there any truth to this statement?
Unfortunately, this is not the case. The alkalinity of celery is not in the pH of the celery itself but in the pH of its metabolized products. Allow me to explain:
- When we process food, certain byproducts are left behind.
- These byproducts may be acidic, neutral, or alkaline.
- As a result, the foods we eat may push our physiology towards a slightly acidic, slightly alkaline, or neutral state.
- Celery, along with the majority of vegetables (and fruits), results in alkaline byproducts.
However, the jump from celery being processed into alkaline byproducts into the idea that celery would mitigate heartburn through the neutralization of stomach acid is a gross misunderstanding.
Regulation of Acid-Base Balance
While nearly all modern diets tend to be on the acidic end of the scale it is important to note that we have powerful systems which maintain homeostasis (i.e. the “status quo”) in our bodies. Diet alone is not enough to force the body to become alkaline or acidic.
For example, in the case of a very acidic diet, the body can simply dissolve tiny portions of bone to release calcium carbonate (a base, and the same component in most antacids) into the bloodstream to maintain ideal pH conditions for our body.
Now, I am not necessarily saying eating an extremely acidic diet is healthy. If the body has to use too much of its own calcium carbonate stores, it is within reason to believe that low bone density or other health problems may result. With this considered it is not exactly a surprise that a neutral diet contains a lot of fruit and vegetables and is associated with lower risks of heart disease and cancer.
However, the idea that eating a basic diet will neutralize heartburn is very far-fetched. The main problem is this: the metabolites of celery may be basic in nature, but by the time these bases are extracted, the process of digestion has gone way past the stomach. How would those basic metabolites get back to the stomach? They don’t.
It is simple really: calcium carbonate, a base with a lot of neutralizing power, is a temporary solution (and not always effective) for heartburn. Why would a much, much milder base like celery be able to outperform it? It is not able to, at least in terms of power of neutralization.
Natural Heartburn Remedies – A Possible Path of Action for Celery
There is however one thing that could make celery an effective natural heartburn remedy: you have to chew it quite a bit in order to eat it.
Chewing releases saliva, and the average person will produce quite a bit of saliva to eat a piece of celery. Saliva tends to be a base and creates a pH buffer in the esophagus against heartburn.
It is within the realm of possibility that eating celery works as a natural heartburn remedy in the same way that gum and vinegar do: by triggering the release of saliva.
Celery – The Bottom Line
Celery might be an effective heartburn remedy, but at the end of the day it is probably less effective than a piece of gum when it comes to producing saliva.
One good way to incorporate this natural heartburn remedy into your lifestyle however is to eat a few pieces of celery at the end of a large meal.
The extra saliva can help reduce heartburn and the extra fiber and antioxidants can improve your health. Celery also has almost no calories, so you would be hard-pressed to “overeat” this vegetable.