What to Know Before Your First Sip of an Internal Shower Drink
Dietitians weigh in on the wellness trend that has people chugging chia seeds
The TikTok trend du jour, with 74 million views and counting, is the internal shower drink. It’s a mix of water, 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, and lemon juice—essentially a chia fresca with no sugar and way more chia seeds. Once everything is combined, the drink sits for a moment for the chia seeds to swell and become gelatinous. And then, bottoms up!
The drink’s name is a tongue-in-cheek way to describe how the high-fiber beverage is purported to flush out your digestive tract. It supposedly reduces the bloat associated with being backed up, too.
Who Should Rethink the Drink
If you have an underlying gastrointestinal disease, such as inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis with an active flare-up, or diverticulitis, Miller says the internal shower drink, or any high-fiber diet in general, isn’t for you. Avoid it if you’ve recently undergone gastrointestinal surgery, too.
And if you have gastroesophageal reflux (frequent heartburn), be mindful that lemon juice is a known trigger for it, so maybe cut that ingredient out. “The lemon juice is really just adding flavor and vitamin C to the beverage anyway,” Miller says. Plus, there’s no evidence that lemon juice helps with constipation.
When to Pour a Tall One
If you have problems with regularity, the internal shower drink could help produce bowel movements because it’s high in fiber. Miller says fiber bulks up the stool, lubricates the colon, and allows stool to pass more easily with less strain. But there’s no way to tell if the drink will work for you until you try it. Every person is unique.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds pack a whopping 10 grams of fiber. The daily recommendation for fiber is around 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men.
You should be fine with the amount in the internal shower drink if you’re used to consuming high amounts of fiber in your diet and you’re not going over the daily recommended amount, Miller says. “There shouldn’t be any particular harm in consuming the drink once a day,” she says. “But of course, if it doesn’t agree with you, stop drinking it.”
If your fiber intake is on the low end, suddenly front-loading your system with a lot of it can lead to GI discomfort, like bloating, cramping, gas, or diarrhea. Start with about half the amount and ramp up as you continue to increase the fiber in your overall diet, Miller says.
And don’t just ignore that last bit. You still need to eat a healthy diet to fill the rest of your day’s recommended fiber intake. “There is nothing wrong with adding chia seeds to your diet, which pack a nutritional punch,” says Amy Keating, RD, Consumer Reports’ resident dietitian. They’re a fiber powerhouse, and the seeds contain protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and selenium. “But relying only on chia seeds is not the fix for constipation in the long-term. Getting enough fiber from a variety of sources helps fight inflammation and reduces your risk of obesity and chronic disease.” Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes are all great sources of dietary fiber. Fermented foods, such as yogurt, and exercise also help make you more regular.
Hydration Is Key
“Whenever you dramatically increase your fiber intake, drinking a lot of water is key to making sure that the fiber doesn’t cause a slowdown,” Keating says. That’s because fiber absorbs water. “And this is definitely the case with chia seeds. Unlike fruits and vegetables, chia seeds are a concentrated source of fiber without any natural water in the matrix, so they’ll absorb water once they’re in your system in order to soften your stool.” Fun fact: Chia seeds can absorb 12 times their weight in water.
Make sure you’re consuming plenty of water every day no matter what. Drink more throughout the day if you’re increasing your fiber intake. The amount of water in your internal shower drink doesn’t matter much, Miller says. What matters is staying hydrated throughout the day.
A Tastier Internal Shower Drink
“There are ways to consume chia seeds that are much more palatable than this concoction,” says Miller, who has seen people on TikTok add puréed fruit or juice to theirs. “To be frank, there are other ways to incorporate chia seeds into your diet that are just better in general.”
We’ve got a few ideas. Some recipes contain more or fewer chia seeds than the internal shower drink. Adjust to your liking!
Make blueberry chia fresca. Whisk ¾ Tbsp. of chia seeds into 1 cup of water. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, stirring or shaking once or twice. Purée ½ cup blueberries, 1½ tsp. fresh lemon juice, and ½ tsp. of agave syrup or honey in a blender. Add the purée to the chia water, then serve.
Make chia pudding. Whisk together 3 Tbsp. of chia seeds, ¾ cup low-fat or nonfat milk or unsweetened fortified soy milk, ¼ of a very ripe banana (mashed), and 1 tsp. of maple syrup. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and stir before serving. Top with chopped walnuts and another 1 tsp. of maple syrup.
Make a green smoothie. In a small cup, mix 1 Tbsp. of chia seeds and ¼ cup of almond milk. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, allowing the chia seeds to soften. Place 2 cups chopped kale, ¾ cup of fresh pineapple, ½ cup of nonfat Greek yogurt, the almond milk/chia mixture, and 1 tsp. of honey into a blender. Blend until smooth.