Your Health Questions Answered

This Trendy Chia Seed Drink Is Actually Healthy, Experts Say

The internal shower drink—chia seeds, water and lemon—can relieve constipation and bloating.

By Allison Forsyth July 20, 2022

Internal Shower drink

Image: Kari Perrin

Gut health has become huge topic of conversation online, and while not all trends are healthy to try, there are some that just might be worthwhile. Enter, the internal shower drink.

This concoction is made with six ounces of water, two tablespoons of chia seeds and lemon juice. The drink, which was popularized on TikTok and Instagram, has users claiming it is a great natural constipation reliever, especially if you've been traveling. The creator of the drink, chiropractor and celebrity nutritionist Daryl Gioffre, says that he drinks it on an empty stomach to naturally eliminate waste.

After stirring the mixture and letting it sit for five minutes, the chia seeds will have become plump and formed a gel-like consistency. This is because chia seeds are a kind of soluble fiber, meaning they attract water. This gel is supposed to thicken and push along bowel movements in the intestinal tract, making it easier to go.

While some gastroenterologists are weary of the drink, saying it may cause abdominal bloating, diarrhea and discomfort if you drink too much, some claim consuming the drink is like taking a couple tablespoons of Metamucil, curing occasional bouts of constipation.

Dr. Marc Bernstein of Gastroenterology Associates of Sarasota finds the each of the internal shower's ingredients could work synergistically to improve gut health.

What are the benefits of the internal shower drink?

"Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber," says Bernstein. "This fiber is an essential component of your diet for gut health and regularity—forming normal bowel movements and feeding health bacteria in your GI system."

Drinking water is also important to regularity. "Combining the fiber with the water could have synergistic health benefits," Bernstein adds.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, chia seeds are also loaded with other essential nutrients like healthy fat, minerals and plant based protein. They can also help manage blood sugar and support bone and heart health.

How much fiber does the internal shower drink have?

One ounce, or two tablespoons, of chia seeds contain 10 grams of fiber. This, plus the gel-like consistency the seeds create when mixed with water increases fiber benefits.

"Less than 10 percent of the population get enough fiber in their diet," says Bernstein. This may be a great way to add daily fiber intake if you have difficulty managing two servings of fruit or vegetables per meal, which Bernstein recommends to keep the GI system in top shape.

What are the risks to the drink?

If you consume too much of the drink (more than the recipe calls for per day), you could experience abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating and diarrhea. 

Other risks include choking hazards from the gel of the seeds—drink the mixture in small sips, not chugging like some of the social media videos advise. Avoid the drink if you know you are allergic to other nuts and seeds; speak with your health care provider prior to trying it.

What about claims that internal shower drinks can detoxify the body?

While there are some claims that internal shower drinks can flush toxins from the liver, detoxify the body and provide a hangover cure, the Poison Control Center has proven these false. The body detoxifies itself on its own by producing waste, sweating and urinating. This drink is not a cure-all.

Speak with your doctor if you have other outstanding gastrointestinal conditions apart from occasional constipation before trying this recipe. "Please consult with your doctor to ensure you are consuming a healthy diet, too," adds Bernstein.

So, should you try it?

According to Bernstein, combining a fiber source with water, like the internal shower drink, is worth a shot if you are experiencing occasional constipation symptoms.

However, if you don't like the idea of drinking straight-up soaked seeds with lemon juice, you can try incorporating chia seeds into other meals. Make a chia pudding with almond and coconut milk, add a sprinkle on top of smoothies, açaí bowls and yogurt, in oatmeal or in salad dressings.

Other ways to naturally cure constipation include eating dark, leafy greens and plenty of fruit, drinking the recommended amount of water per day and engaging in some form of light or vigorous exercise daily. Stretching and abdominal massage can also help improve symptoms.

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