TikTokers claim Chia Water fuels weight loss. Is it healthy?

A dietician breaks down the “internal shower” health trend.

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Chia water has been trending on TikTok for a minute, with users touting the combination of chia seeds and H20 (plus lemon or lime) as an incredible health hack.

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Proponents say the combo — also referred to by some as an “internal shower” — can help you lose weight by making you feel full, boost your digestion, and even "reverse diabetes."

But does that mean you should start chugging? Not so fast. Here’s what you should know.

There’s nothing new about chia being seen as a “super food” (which it is).

While most of us didn’t hear about chia seeds until the 20th Century, they’ve been used — as food, medicine, and even money — in Aztec and Mayan civilizations for centuries.

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Chia seeds were consumed alone or mixed with other ancient grains, consumed as a beverage, and ground into flour and made into porridges. They were [used for] energy and sustenance on long-trips and were a major dietary component of the Aztecs and the Mayans.

Wendy Bazilian, a nutritionist in San Diego

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“There is a lot of great nutrition in chia seeds,” Bazilian says. Chia seeds have fiber, high quality protein, and are an excellent source of the essential omega-3 fat, she explains. Their nutrient density is basically unmatched.

“They are small, but mighty,” says Bastian.

What’s in an ounce of chia?

According to MedicalNewsToday:

  • 131 calories
  • 8.4 g of fat
  • 13.07 g of carbohydrate
  • 11.2 g of fiber
  • 5.6 g of protein
  • 0 g sugar
  • calcium
  • zinc
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorous
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Improving gut health

There isn’t a lot of research about how much chia seeds can improve gut health, but Bazilian says it makes sense. “Chia seeds, thanks to their content of dietary fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, have a positive effect on the intestinal microbiome,” Bazilian explains.

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Reversing diabetes

Chia seeds have been proven to reduce blood sugar in animals, but there is no cure for diabetes. (Type 2 diabetes can go into remission, but that’s not a permanent cure.)

A healthy diet, including high-fiber foods, can help manage blood sugar levels — though chia seeds aren’t even on the American Diabetes Association’s top 50 list of foods recommended to help control diabetes.

Treating diabetes is far more complicated than drinking a concoction you saw on social media, though; before you try any hacks, consult your doctor.

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“Cleansing”

Fiber is known to aid bowel movements and help with constipation — but be wary of TikTokers promoting chia water as a laxative.

Not only can too much fiber (especially when consumed quickly) cause bloating and gas, but overusing laxatives (in any form) can lead to serious health effects and disordered eating.

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“If you try to eat too much chia, it might displace other foods by literally taking up space in your GI tract, Bazilian explains.

She also stresses the importance of adding enough water; chia seeds absorb 12 times their weight in water and are most easily digested with fluids. They can also pose a choking risk if you consume too many at a time, as Health reported.

Minimizing appetite

Chia seeds may help some people control their appetite because of the high fiber content, which can make you feel full, Bazilian says. That said, many people struggle to separate their body’s natural feelings of hunger and fullness from the beliefs ingrained in them by diet culture.

Be wary of who and where you get your advice. If you’re looking to lose weight for health reasons, it’s best to consult a doctor and discuss why, if it’s necessary, and the healthy way to go about it — rather than follow the lead of strangers on social media.

Maxine McCrann

That said, what may be most impactful about the chia water trend isn’t actually the chia seeds.

“The water is key in this trend,” Bazilian says.

If you find yourself frequently dehydrated, chia water could be a solid choice for boosting hydration with a side of nutrients.

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The bottom line:

If you want to hop on the chia water bandwagon for some basic health benefits, go ahead (unless you’re on a low-fiber diet for medical reasons, in which case you should steer clear altogether) — but do so in moderation. Don’t go on a chia water binge.

“The body needs to adapt to a high fiber diet, so it’s better to incorporate fiber across meals and snacks, not just ‘one big hit’ or dose,” says Bazilian.

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