Have you heard this latest viral health trend? Blown up on Tik Tok; Chia seed water (CSW) chia seed soaked in water with a pinch of salt and squeeze of lemon is hyped with the promise of a flat tummy, better digestion, better skin, increases hydration, helps weight loss and more.
Chia seeds are the offspring of the Salvia hispanica plant. They can be a great way of increasing both protein and fibre in your diet and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acid. They can also be used as a vegan egg replacement. When soaked in water they absorb the liquid and make a gelatinous gloop that helps to bind ingredients together.
Chia Seed Water
The latest health craze has got millions of hashtags on TikTok influencers tell us that drinking CSW every morning increases hydration giving us an internal shower, can help regulate blood sugar, give skin a health boost and help us lose weight.
The suggestive phrase “internal shower” sounds inviting and charged with health benefits doesn’t it, but where is the evidence that it can really do what it says it does?
I have trawled the latest science looking for evidence to support these health claims and have found the nutritional nuggets to bring you the truth without any of the BS.
I suppose the claim of internal shower relates to the suggestion of increased hydration because of the seeds incredible capacity to absorb liquid. In fact, they can increase up to 12x larger than their original size when soaked, however as far as hydrating you the jury is out. Once inside you they are actually likely to do the opposite. Be sure to put enough liquid into the mixture or you will end up with a cup of solid grit, and if be cautious if you generally don’t drink enough water or are dehydrated, they are going to dry your gut out like the Sahara desert! This claim gets a clear thumbs down from me.
Chia seed are very high in fibre and also a good source of protein. They can be especially helpful for adding a little extra protein to breakfast if you are vegetarian or vegan. We also know that having a higher fibre diet can help keep us full for longer and prevent snacking, curb hunger and help us control our appetite so there is some truth for its claim to help support weight loss from this point of view.
The protein content in chia seeds is coupled with the fibre is a powerful partnership. Two tablespoons (1oz.) of chia seeds provides 4.7g of protein however that is quite a lot to add to one meal. Protein really does help us to feel satiated and prevent snacking so it gets a thumbs up for its nutrition composition. However, relying on this ever so slightly disgusting drink is going to be largely unsustainable for most of us normal people.
I did find one scientific study that assessed the effectiveness of chia seed for weight loss in overweight adults. It was investigating the potential positive effects due to the fibre and alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) content of chia seed. However, at the end of the twelve week study they found no difference to body composition or weight loss from including the chia seeds.
There is no scientific evidence for chia seed helping weight loss but there is evidence for increased fibre from plant-based sources so they can still be a healthy addition to a healthy, balanced diet.
Fibre in these tiny seeds is potent – considering the size of each tiny seed that is it mostly composed of a tough outer fibrous coat and low water content, it is debatable in my mind whether they are going to improve everyone’s digestion. For example, I help men and women with chronic constipation and would never recommend CSW for them. As much as they help move waste through the gut, they can also block it up if you are prone to constipation and could make it much worse. They soak up water in the glass and continue to have this action once inside your gut absorbing fluids including digestive juices! Thumbs down.
This claim is quite frankly unsound. If you have got regular bloating, especially on waking, your first port of call should be your GP. If you have been to see your GP about bloating and they have said you have IBS or it is a food intolerance, we must find the root cause (this is where I help you). Chucking in a load of chia seed is unlikely to help give you a flat tummy and in fact could make the bloating worse.
Chia seeds hold an additional super-power! Omega 3 fatty acids which are beneficial for skin health and reducing inflammation. Additionally, their fibre content might help you to be more regular which supports detoxification which can improve skin condition. As far as science supporting this claim goes, there is none that I can find but there is evidence for the inclusion of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and reduced inflammation. Thumbs up for its anti-inflammatory action from me.
Get The Benefits Without The Ick!
After reading this you might still want to give CSW a go, my recommendation would be to make it taste nice! Nobody wants to have to chug down this mix gagging and heaving every day to get flatter tummy, better digestion or whatever your reason is.
Why not add the chia seed to a smoothie that you already enjoy or try some of my smoothie recipes out.
Always start low and slow when it comes to increasing fibre in your diet. I would start with just a teaspoon if you aren’t used to including these kind of seeds regularly. Build it up slowly and see how you feel.
The benefits of chia seed are there for the taking but I think the drink is even beyond me and I for one will be taking my chia seeds in a drink and food that will taste good.
If you get bloated, gassy or suspect you might have a food intolerance, get in touch for a friendly chat. I often help my clients resolve their symptoms in 30 days or less.
*Disclaimer: the information provided here is for information purposes only and not designed to treat or diagnose. I do not know your personal circumstances and therefore to get a personalised, bespoke health plan please get in touch to arrange your private consultation today