Have you heard of the “internal shower drink” on TikTok? If you haven’t been keeping tabs on viral nutrition trends, it’s basically a chia seed, water and lemon concoction that TikTokers have been drinking in an effort to improve their digestion. Videos about it have garnered over 121M views on the platform.
You may be wondering whether the “internal shower drink” is a questionable or even potentially dangerous fad or a legit diet hack for your gut health. You may be tempted to try it. Since social media can be filled with sketchy diet advice, we asked a couple of experts to chime in on the trend.
Is The ‘Internal Shower Drink’ Healthy?
At their core, the ingredients that make up this DIY elixir boast an array of health benefits. Chia seeds are an ancient superfood. While they have gained popularity in recent years, they were cultivated and consumed by the Aztecs thousands of years before TikTok existed.
According to WebMD, a two-tablespoon serving of chia seeds contains 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat (mostly the good kind!), and 11 grams of fiber. Additionally, chia seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, copper, selenium, iron, magnesium, and calcium, according to Healthline.
“The fibrous component of chia seeds can help with digestive regularity, reduced bloating, and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome balance,” says Mahmud Kara, M.D., creator of KaraMD. “The antioxidants in chia seeds can help combat free radical damage at the cellular level, which is important for our gut microbiome systems to function properly.”
As for lemon, it’s high in Vitamin C and can help reduce the risk of diseases such as asthma and cancer, as well as lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss. Combining those two nutritional powerhouses sounds like a no-brainer, right? Not so fast.
What The ‘Internal Shower Drink’ Does To Your Body
While adding chia seeds and lemon to your diet is a good idea for the benefits listed above, mixing the two with water creates a thick, gelatinous substance – and that substance will head straight for your digestive tract, for better or worse. “It is acting as a form of soluble fiber, but doing so prior to being consumed. The amount of time it can take to work depends on the individual. It could work immediately or have a delayed reaction,” says Trista Best, Registered Dietitian at Balance One Supplements, Environmental Health Specialist, and Adjunct Nutrition Professor.
Sure, that could help you if things haven’t been moving in your bowels, but it can also lead to irritation or make matters worse. “Before partaking in the ‘internal shower’ trend to cleanse the digestive tract, people should be aware that moderate to severe cases of constipation may become worse with this mix,” says Kara.
That’s because whole chia seeds absorb water – it’s why letting the “internal shower drink” sit before consuming it turns into a thick substance – and they can absorb the water in your GI tract and even cause an obstruction, according to Poison Control.
The Bottom Line
Before hopping on the “internal shower drink” bandwagon, you’re better off adding chia seeds and lemon to your diet in moderate amounts to reap their health benefits without any potential downsides. While lots of TikTokers share glowing feedback about the drink, and they are probably doing just fine, you never know how it will affect you and whether it can lead to an adverse reaction.
If you care about improving your gastrointestinal health, it’s also a good idea to aim to drink lots of water and consume adequate amounts of fiber through foods such as fruits and veggies and whole grains – and not all at once in a drink. Women should try to eat 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day, while men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you’re not used to eating that much fiber, slowly ramping up your consumption will prevent any discomfort.
And if you’re struggling with constipation, Best recommends speaking to your healthcare provider and staying away from the “internal shower drink” as a solution.