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Taylor, The Lanby’s Wellness Advisor, is here to set the record straight on a recent TikTok trend that went viral.
What Is Chia Seed Water?
Chia seed water, also known as the “Internal Shower”, gained traction within the wellness community as a quick fix to relieve constipation. It is estimated that 4 million people are suffering from constipation in the United States and it is one of the most marketed health issues. People are turning to teas, supplements, food and even yoga poses for a solution. Enter chia seed water: a trend that emerged on TikTok.
The viral beverage consists of three simple ingredients:
– 2 tablespoons of chia seeds
– Juice from half a lemon
– Mixed into an 8oz glass of water
Can Chia Seeds Cure Constipation?
As a dietitian, I discuss bowel movements with clients every day. We immediately get down to the details of bowel habits by referencing the famous Bristol Stool Chart, so I am able to get an accurate scene-report. These details are important because they provide useful insight into the individual's digestive system, microbiome, and overall well-being. While not a glamorous topic, irregular bowel habits are a red flag that should be comprehensively addressed and are far too often left untreated.
Adequate fiber intake is one of the best ways to ensure regular bowel movements. At The Lanby, we recommend that patients aim to consume over 28 grams of fiber per day, not only for regular bowel habits, but also to increase healthy bacteria in the GI tract that support the gut microbiome.
Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, healthy fat, minerals, and plant-based protein. In just 2 tablespoons, chia seeds pack about 10g of fiber. Chia is also a versatile ingredient that can be consumed in many ways including Smoothies, oatmeal, salad dressings, or soaked in water or light coconut milk for a chia pudding.
Some individuals, however, may negatively respond to chia seeds, leading to gastrointestinal pain, bloating, or discomfort. When increasing fiber intake, it is crucial to gradually add in a variety of sources over a few weeks. If this is done too quickly, the natural bacteria in your digestive system won’t have enough time to adjust to the change.
While chia seeds are a good source of fiber, there is not enough scientific evidence to support the claim that consuming chia seeds alone can help to relieve constipation. Additionally, consuming chia seeds with water alone may not be enough to soften the stools. If the chia seeds aren't soaked long enough before consuming, you are more likely to experience gastrointestinal discomfort and bloating. For some, the Internal Shower may result in more gentle, consistent bowel movements, while for others suddenly introducing this fiber load may lead to more issues. If you’re someone who is consuming an average amount of fiber and properly hydrating, the Internal Shower may stimulate a bowel movement. For those who consume little to no fiber in the diet and/or are not meeting daily hydration needs, constipation, discomfort, and other GI issues may result. This suggestion is not one size fits all. Consult with your PCP or a Registered Dietitian for the myriad of ways to normalize bowel habits.
Is There Such Thing As Too Much Fiber?
Consuming too much fiber can result in negative symptoms such as gas, bloating, and constipation. Whenever making a new dietary change it is best to go slow and in small amounts to start to assess your body's reaction.
When trying to relieve constipation it is important to look at the whole picture of dietary and lifestyle factors to determine the root causes which may include:
- Medication side effects – check with your Physician
- Not eating enough
- Overdrive of the sympathetic nervous system
- Lack of dietary fiber
- Impaired micro biome caused by excessive alcohol intake
- Intake of food that causes sensitivities/allergens
- Lack of prebiotics
Chia Seed Water Alternatives:
Instead of Chia Seed Water, some alternative solutions that may help to reverse constipation and aid in better bowel function are:
- Magnesium citrate
- Sunfiber (a prebiotic, soluble fiber source that helps to normalize the digestive system)
- Fermented foods (2 servings daily)
- Pear juice
- Movement, especially in the morning
At The Lanby, we believe your overall diet and lifestyle should include an array of foods and activities that support gut health. We don’t believe that one food or trend is ever a panacea, it’s always about the full story. As always, consult with your preferred healthcare provider or meet with your Care Team to explore the root cause behind your constipation and best treatment options.
If you're curious to learn more about The Lanby, book a free consult call and we'll chat about how The Lanby can be your personalized long term health and wellness partner.
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