Celery juice, mushroom coffee, moon milk and schisandra tea… are these new brews beneficial – or just hype? We ask dietitian EMILY FOSTER for the lowdown
Celery juice is having its moment in the spotlight. It’s all over Instagram with more than 85,000 #celeryjuice posts and counting. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop site has extolled its virtues, supermodel Miranda Kerr drinks it every morning and its popularity means stores are selling out of the crunchy salad sticks. Ideally meant to be juiced solo and swigged straight on an empty stomach, its list of purported health benefits include lowering inflammation in the body and reducing bloating.
Emily says: “Celery, like many veg, contains phytochemicals and antioxidants (vitamins A, K and C), which are associated with reducing inflammation. It’s true that – although the effects are small – celery does have a diuretic effect that can potentially reduce bloating.
“However when you juice any fruit or vegetable you lose a large amount of its fibre. Fibre helps us stay full for longer and also contributes to a steadier rise and fall in our blood sugars. It’s great added to a balanced diet but do remember that eating it whole would give you added benefits.”
Hot milk, the quintessential bedtime drink to help you nod off, has had an Ayurvedic overhaul. Say hello to your new mellow sleep heroes – moon milks. The frothy milks look pretty on Pinterest and “saves” of pictures and recipes on the site recently soared by more than 700 per cent in six months.
It’s made by simmering milk in a pan then whisking in spices such as cardamom or nutmeg, for their calming properties, plus an adaptogen (an Ayurvedic herbal supplement such as ashwagandha, said to help support your adrenal system and balance hormones). However is it really the secret to a good night’s sleep?
Emily says: “Milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan can be converted in the body into a molecule used to make serotonin and melatonin, which influence sleep and mood. Yet the likelihood of a moon milk helping you sleep isn’t great as the amount of tryptophan found in a glass of milk is really too small to have an effect.
“As for the adaptogens, be sure to research any potential side effects and recommended dosages of what you choose (such as ginseng, ashwagandha, holy basil or maca root). More is not necessarily better; especially true if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
Grown in China, schisandra – or “five flavour” berries – are said to contain all five natural flavours: salty, sweet, bitter, sour and spicy. Steeping the dried berries or dissolving the extract powder (available in health shops) in hot water makes a tea said to suppress anxiety, lower stress, increase energy and boost mood.
Gwyneth Paltrow is said to sprinkle her breakfast smoothies with a blend that contains the powdered extract of the berries.
Emily says: “The schisandra berry contains plenty of healthy antioxidants and in an animal study where the extract was used, the powder appeared to show an antidepressant type effect. Pregnant or nursing women, along with people with gastric conditions, shouldn’t take schisandra without GP approval. It can cause heartburn or stomach upset.
“For a hit of healthboosting antioxidants, I’d stick to homegrown blackberries and raspberries. We have such a great variety that grow in the UK