Looking for a simple and effective way to boost your mood and improve gut health? This is the viral gut-boosting drink you need to try, made with chia seeds and other gut-friendly ingredients for gut health and balance. Discover the science behind this popular drink and how it can benefit your overall health.
What goes on inside your gut plays a huge role in overall health. According to the NIH, 60 to 70 million Americans are affected by digestive diseases, like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Gut health is impacted by many factors, ranging from genetics to stress and diet. And, when balance is upset, both physical and mental health can be impacted.
“So much of our immune system and overall health is tied to our gut,” explains Tara Collingwood, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD/N, ACSM-CPT, Board Certified Sports Dietitian. Certified Personal Trainer, American College of Sports Medicine. “We digest and absorb food and nutrients in our gut, and when that is off it can throw off our mental health, immune health, focus, energy, hormone production, and more.”
Gut health is an incredibly popular topic on Instagram and TikTok, with the hashtag wracking up over 4.3 billion views on TikTok alone. One of the most recent viral gut health trends? A chia seed-based drink dubbed Chia Fresca by some and “Internal Shower” by others. Videos touting the benefits of the 3-ingredient drink have over 100 million views, with endless influencers, health and nutrition experts, and even MDs recommending it to help with everything from constipation and mood-boosting to overall gut health. Some people even claim it can help flatten your abs in a week.
The Viral Gut Boosting Drink
Chia fresca, or the “Internal Shower” is incredibly easy to make. While exact measurements may vary, the drink generally consists of one cup of water, two tablespoons chia seeds, and the juice of one lemon. You let the ingredients sit for about 15 minutes until the chia seeds expand, before enjoying the citrus beverage.
Back in 2022, Daryl Gioffre, certified chiropractor and celebrity nutritionist claimed to be the creator of the “powerful gut cleanser,” first talking about it during an appearance on 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 told listeners. “But one thing to remember is that you aren’t going to be running to the bathroom; it’s more of a natural elimination.”
What makes the drink effective? Chia seeds contain between 34 and 40 grams of dietary fiber per 100 grams, equivalent to 100 % of the daily recommendations for the adult population and higher than quinoa, flaxseed, and amaranth, according to 2012 study published in the Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology.
While it isn’t necessary to soak chia seeds in water, the seeds hold more than 12 times their weight in water. So, soaking them in a big glass of water prior to consuming may help promote hydration, healthy digestion, and lower hunger.
Finally, lemon juice is packed with citric acid, which helps break down food and ultimately aid in digestion, per the NIH.
Expert Insights on the Drink’s Benefits
Collingwood agrees that the abundance of fiber is what makes chia fresca a great gut-balancing drink. “The fiber acts as a ‘prebiotic’ which helps to feed the probiotics that are naturally present in our guts,” she says. “Chia seeds in general are quite healthy due to their vitamin and mineral content as well as the omega-3 fats, fiber, and plant based protein.”
She does stress that you shouldn’t overdo it with chia seeds. “Two to three tablespoons of chia seed every day is a realistic amount to add to the diet,” she says. “Any more than that and it may do the opposite effect and cause more bloating and gas and loose stool if added too quickly.”
Why she points out that there isn’t enough scientific evidence to directly support the “mood boosting” claims of the drink, maintaining overall good gut health is good for releasing proper hormones that can contribute to mood.
While she does encourage adding more fiber to your diet, chia fresca isn’t a miracle drink. “Don’t expect any digestive disorders or diseases to be cured,” she says. “This may help relieve constipation but there is nothing absolutely magical about chia seeds or lemon/lime that will clear up all brain fog, produce weight loss, reduce sluggishness, etc.”
Her biggest tip for maximizing the drink’s benefits? “Make sure you are drinking plenty of water/fluids in addition to the water used to make this drink in order to promote the digestion of the seeds since it is a good amount of fiber to add to a person’s diet,” she reminds.
Other Gut-Friendly Ingredients to Try
Collingwood notes that it is good to get a variety of sources of fiber from fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. rather than just relying on this drink for all of your digestive health.
And, she suggests being creative by adding your own gut-nourising ingredients to the beverage. “Probiotic foods like kefir, yogurt, kombucha will add the good bacteria to the gut to keep it healthy and maintain a good microbiota,” she says. You an also add green tea, a “good antioxidant.”
Should You Drink Chia Fresca?
Jumping on the viral chia fresca trend is an easy way to promote gut health. While it might not be as extreme as an “internal shower,” for those needing some extra fiber in their diet it can certainly help improve digestion and overall health.
Just keep in mind that when it comes to fiber, it is possible to have too much of a good thing. And an overload of fiber without proper hydration will result in the opposite effect, throwing your digestive system and gut off balance, which may result in constipation, nausea or other symptoms.