Is TikTok’s ‘internal shower’ chia seed water actually healthy?

Chia Seeds in a blender

We weigh in on the celebrity-crafted viral drink that claims to help cleanse you in just a few gloopy gulps

Thursday 25 August 2022    By Tilly Pearman

Are we witnessing the great chia comeback? As it stands, 73.4 million TikTokers would have us believe so. #ChiaSeedWater is currently trending across the video-sharing platform, with users touting the miraculous health hack as your ‘all-in-one solution’ to improved digestion, boosted hydration and weight loss. 
The simple concoction, also known as the somewhat icky ‘internal shower’ was first highlighted by celebrity wellness influencer, Daryl Gioffre on the podcast, Skinny Confidential. ‘If you drink this on an empty stomach, it literally is like an internal shower – it gets into all the nooks and crannies of your gut like an internal washing,’ he said.
There is some validity to the trend. Chia seeds provide an excellent source of fibre (35g per 100g), and when combined with water they expand to create a gel-like texture that naturally helps to ‘get things moving’. The recipe for the detox-like drink is also ridiculously easy: add two tablespoons of chia seeds to a full glass of water, flavour with a squeeze of fresh lemon, stir and wait for 15 minutes, then finally, drink. 
But, before you rush to chug down your next batch of citrus-flavoured frogspawn – the texture it unfortunately bares most resemblance to – here’s what you need to know.
1. Don’t look for quick fixes
‘I think the internal shower is trending because people are always looking for quick fix solutions to common problems, such as constipation,’ says London nutritionist and gut specialist, Jennifer Medhurst. ‘But there are many safer and more effective ways to treat constipation.’ She recommends filling up on plenty of fibre, diversifying our gut bacteria by aiming to consume at least 30 different types of plant foods every week, and eating foods in there whole, most natural state wherever possible.
2. Chia seeds are nutritional powerhouses, but some health benefits remain unsupported
Packed full of minerals (calcium and phosphorus), antioxidants, fibre (two tablespoons provides half of your daily fibre) and plant-based omega-3 fats, chia seeds undoubtedly deserve their powerhouse status. But with various health claims ranging from weight loss, diabetes reversal and a reduced risk of heart disease, Medhurst warns of a lack of research to fully support such statements. ‘More studies involving humans need to be undertaken before any firm conclusions can be reached,’ she says.
3. Easy does it
Yes, it may jump-start the digestive system, but prolonged consumption of chia seeds can in fact lead to a worsening of gut-related symptoms. ‘Drinking the “internal shower” once is unlikely to cause any immediate problems. However, consuming too many chia seeds over a prolonged time can be harmful, causing more bloating, stomach pain and constipation,’ says Medhurst.
4. Ditch the water and make a pudding
Let’s face it, drinking slimy water isn’t that appealing, and as Medhurst confirms, ‘the drink itself is not as good for you as social media hypes it up to be, but the ingredients alone are.’ The perfect solution? A chia seed dessert. Currently on the menu at Soho House 40 Greek Street and Soho Farmhouse is the Coconut Chia Seed Pudding. But if you can’t make it to the Houses, why not try this two-step, delicious breakfast (or dessert) at home? Follow the recipe below, which serves four.
1 cup chia seeds
6 cups coconut milk
4 cups coconut yoghurt
Mango, diced
Handful of pomegranate seeds
Coconut flakes, toasted
½ lime, zested
1. Whisk the chia seeds and coconut milk together and leave overnight in the fridge.
2. In the morning, break up the chia seed mix with a whisk, stir in the yoghurt and top with diced mango, pomegranate, coconut flakes, and lime zest.
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