Chia seeds aren’t just for quirky indoor gardening anymore! First, chia seed water has been making waves on social media for its purported ability to aid weight loss. Now it’s doing the rounds again, but for a different reason.
Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. Policy
Dubbed the “internal shower,” this simple drink is said to relieve constipation and help you poop. So, does chia seed water live up to these claims?
Dietitian Beth Czerwony, RD, asks if this is a safe trend to try when you want to get your bowels moving — and what you can do instead, if consuming a cup of gummy doesn’t appeal to you just not.
What is TikTok’s ‘inner shower’ drink?
Chia seed water is a simple DIY concoction that you can make in less time than it takes to brew a coffee maker. Simply measure out a tablespoon or two of chia seeds and mix them in an eight to 10 ounce glass of water. Then let the mixture sit for a few minutes.
As they absorb water, each little seed will develop a kind of transparent and slimy envelope. In fact, chia seeds can absorb up to 12 times their weight when wet!
“When chia seeds absorb water, they take on a gel-like consistency,” says Czerwony. “They add bulk and weight to stools, which softens them and helps them pass.”
Health benefits of chia seeds
Chia seeds are super healthy – so healthy, in fact, that they’re considered a superfood.
“Research is in its early stages, but their potential digestive benefits include improving gut tissue health, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria (flora), altering the absorption of certain food components, and ‘alleviation of constipation,’ says Czerwony. The beneficial gut bacteria and other microbes found in chia seeds play an important role in digestion and overall health.
Here are a few other things to know about chia seeds:
- They are full of fiber. Just one ounce of these tiny seeds contains 11 grams of fiber, which is vital for gut health. (More on that in a moment.)
- They are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants protect your body against free radicals, unstable molecules that can bind to your cells and cause damage.
- They are packed with protein. One ounce of chia seeds contains nearly 5 grams of protein, which is essential for keeping your muscles, skin, and bones healthy.
And the hits of chia seeds follow one another! They also contain vitamins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, iron and zinc.
Does the internal shower drink work?
All of that fiber in chia seeds is mostly insoluble fiber, which doesn’t dissolve in liquids. Instead, it absorbs fluids and helps create bulky, loose stools. So yes, chia seeds have the right kind of fiber to loosen your poop and relieve you of constipation.
“Chia seeds have not been studied for constipation,” notes Czerwony, “but due to their fiber content, they are thought to have a laxative effect.”
Here’s the thing, though. Too much fiber can also cause tummy issues, including:
It’s true, overconsumption of fiber is associated with both and loose poop, depending on your hydration habits and your individual gastrointestinal (GI) system.
If you eat a lot of insoluble fiber but don’t get enough water, that fiber—which is looking for liquid to absorb—can ultimately dehydrate your digestive tract and cause constipation. This is still It’s important to stay hydrated, but if you deliberately consume extra fiber, including chia seed water, it’s very important.
“Chia attracts fluids into a gel-like substance,” Czerwony explains. “If there’s not enough liquid to draw out, it will create a thicker viscosity that can make it harder to move through the gastrointestinal tract.”
On the other hand, if you have an inflammatory bowel disease (including Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), consuming too much fiber can seriously worsen an existing flare-up by causing diarrhea and cramping. Low-fiber diets are generally recommended for people with IBD experiencing a flare-up – so if that’s you, definitely don’t opt for chia seed water.
Other Good Sources of Dietary Fiber
If you’re struggling with constipation and want to go the chia seed water route, it’s probably fine to do so, says Czerwony. But you can also simply sprinkle chia seeds on your yogurt or include them in a smoothie.
And there are other ways to fill up on fiber. Other fiber-rich foods can do the same job.
“Any form of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help relieve constipation,” says Czerwony. “Research shows that consuming a good variety of these products helps nourish the gut microbiome. And nurturing the good bacteria by having a diverse microbiome will also help with digestion.
- Fruits and vegetables : “Fruits and vegetables contain both fiber and fluid, not only to soften stools, but also to promote intestinal motility,” she explains. Particularly fiber-rich choices include artichoke hearts, avocado, berries, Brussels sprouts, pears, and prunes.
- Whole grains: Choose whole grain foods with 3 grams or more of fiber per serving. Barley, oatmeal, quinoa, whole-grain bread, and whole-wheat pasta are all good choices.
- Fermented foods: Pre- and probiotic fermented foods like kimchee, sauerkraut, kefir, miso, and kombucha have been shown to have benefits far beyond gut health.
It’s important to know, however, that adding too much fiber too quickly can cause unwanted problems like bloating, gas, distention, cramping, and even diarrhea. So start adding it slowly to your diet.
“And remember: while you’re getting fiber, make sure you’re drinking enough water,” Czerwony repeats, “because what you don’t want to do is make your constipation worse.