If you’re on TikTok or have a friend who is, you have no doubt seen this viral trend – the chia seed internal shower – in your feed. But, are you wondering what it’s really all about? Here’s the scoop.
What is a chia seed internal shower?
For those of you who have been on a social media hiatus, a chia seed internal shower (dubbed by the inventor, Dr. Daryl Gioffre, as a “constipation reliever shot”) is touted to be a method of cleaning out your system. Yes, that’s a euphemism for making you poop.
The “internal shower” consists of a 6 oz glass of water with two tablespoons of chia seeds, 1/8 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt, and a squeeze of a slice of lemon. Let it sit for five minutes while the seeds expand, then gulp it down.
Gioffre explained, “The shot, which contains two tablespoons of chia seeds, has 10 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber, which literally scrubs your intestines acting as an ‘internal shower’ in your gut, helping to move food and prevent any impactions down the road. Soluble fiber bulks up your stool, feeds friendly bacteria in the gut and helps slow digestion to make you feel satisfied.”
Is the chia seed internal shower legit?
This all sounds great, but what does an unbiased nutritionist say about its safety?
“It’s important to first look into why this can be helpful and what it actually does in your body,” said Chelsea Stegman, MS, RD, LD, CPT. “Chia seeds contain soluble fiber, adding bulk to your stool and making it easier to pass. This, in addition to water and lemon, can stimulate digestion and also help eliminate waste. It can be a good combination if your bowel movements aren’t so regular.”
But you don’t have to go rushing into the full shower, cautions Stegman.
“That said, digestive problems can be intricate and individualized, and if you are on the extreme end of digestive woes, it would be best to start with a small amount and check tolerance,” she advises.
Don’t rely on this as your only source of fiber
Dr. Gioffre said that research shows that only 5% of the population get the 25-35 grams of fiber needed for optimal health. With that in mind, consuming chia seeds daily through his constipation reliever shot is not only safe but essential. However, Stegman explains, your fiber sources should go beyond this daily morning drink.
“Don’t rely on this as your main source of fiber but use it to get in the mindset of intentionally adding different sources of fiber throughout the day,” Stegman said. “The recipe calls for two tablespoons of chia seeds, which is about 10 grams of the daily recommended fiber per day, to put it into perspective. So I would say this is a safe amount once a day in addition to other sources of fiber.”
How does the chia seed internal shower compare to laxatives?
“Laxatives have a diuretic effect on the body pulling water from your vital organs to dump it into the gut, resulting in a massive loss of electrolytes and dehydration of the body,” Gioffre said.
Instead of laxatives, he advises, you’re better off addressing the root cause of your constipation, which is most likely a diet that’s deficient in fiber, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. Meanwhile, the internal shower can promote digestive health in a gentler way by relieving constipation and moving things along down there.
Stegman agrees. “Depending on your situation, [the chia seed internal shower] may not be as powerful as a laxative (which might be a good thing). However, this is a more natural remedy that potentially has fewer side effects.”
Is there anyone who shouldn’t try the internal shower?
While Stegman and Dr. Gioffre generally agreed the chia seed concoction should be safe for most people, it’s always best to talk to your doctor before adding anything new to your diet.
Additionally, Dr. Gioffre would not necessarily recommend the chia seed internal shower in a few instances.
“The only time I would suggest people be on the alert with using this shot is if they don’t have a gallbladder,” he expands. “This organ is responsible for releasing the bile salts to assist in fat digestion. It’s also not good for people with dysphagia (trouble swallowing) or dealing with diverticulitis.”
How to try the chia seed internal shower
Dr. Gioffre recommends doing this shot on an empty stomach, at least 30 minutes before and at least 90 minutes after food.
Also, don’t rush the five-minute soaking period.
“It is important not to drink this shot immediately, as the chia seeds are still dry and can get ‘stuck,'” he explains. “Add the chia seeds, lemon slice, and Himalayan pink salt (or any sea salt) to 6 ounces of water, give it a mix and then let it sit for a minimum of five minutes, as this will release more of the seed’s beneficial fiber.”
And remember, the chia seed internal shower isn’t a silver bullet to give you perfect digestive health.
“Gut health is comprehensive, and it’s best to target all areas that support gut health instead of just relying on one ‘magical’ habit,” Stegman explains. “That said, this can be a good addition to other habits that is safe for most.”