The Viral TikTok Drink That Nutritionists Are Warning Against

Bloating is a fairly common ailment that most people will experience from time to time. Around 10% of otherwise healthy people claim to experience regular bloating, and 75% of people experience bloating before or during their period (via the Cleveland Clinic). There are several possible causes for bloating, including digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), food intolerance, or gastrointestinal disease. As such, the internet has given rise to numerous proposed solutions for bloating, from tea blends to capsules to smoothie powders.

One of the most recent trends to emerge on TikTok is the "internal shower." The concoction, made from 2 tablespoons of chia seeds, a glass of water, and a squeeze of lemon juice, was first created by board-certified chiropractor Daryl Gioffre, who shared the detox drink during his appearance on an episode of The Skinny & Confidential podcast (via Health). Gioffre recommended letting the chia seeds sit in the water for around five minutes and then drinking them on an empty stomach to achieve "natural elimination" through a "constipation reliever shot" to treat bloating, among other issues. The internal shower has since gone viral, with videos focusing on the trend garnering more than 147 million views on TikTok. But not everyone is convinced about the efficacy of the drink, with some nutritionists even warning that the internal shower can do more harm than good.

How does the internal shower work?

The basic idea behind the internal shower drink is that the ingredients will work to detox your body (via the National Capital Poison Center). This will lead to healthier bowel movements and ease symptoms like bloating, and can also treat hangovers caused by alcohol. Additionally, it has been reported that the internal shower can lead to weight loss. Experts confirm that the three ingredients all have health benefits. Chia seeds are high in fiber and therefore promote digestive regularity. Lemon promotes a healthy gut microbiome and can lower peak blood glucose concentrations, and water is, of course, key for removing toxins from the body. However, these ingredients alone aren't a miracle fix to digestive issues and should complement a more holistic approach featuring overall diet and lifestyle changes.

Despite the potential benefits of the internal shower, experts warn that the drink can cause adverse effects. The National Capital Poison Center further explains that people with underlying gastrointestinal issues should consult a doctor before using chia seeds as a remedy for digestive problems. Over-consumption of chia seeds can lead to obstruction of the human gastrointestinal tract and anaphylaxis. Furthermore, the website claims there is "no evidence" that chia seeds alone can detoxify the body or heal symptoms of an alcohol hangover. 

Speaking to Food Network, registered dietician Toby Amidor explained that consuming too many chia seeds can actually lead to an upset stomach if you're not used to them, worsening constipation and bloating. To enjoy the benefits of chia seeds, Amidor advised starting them "in a much smaller volume with water and working your way up." When it comes to bloating relief and detoxing, there are also other methods that may carry fewer risks.

How else can you treat bloating?

Treating bloating effectively requires the identification of the root cause of that bloating. WebMD outlines the most common causes as excess gas, gastrointestinal disorders, bad bacteria in the intestines, hormones, and, in some cases, cancer. It's important to see your healthcare provider in the case of chronic bloating to rule out more serious causes. According to Healthline, one of the best ways to combat bloating is by eliminating trigger foods. Other effective actions include drinking enough fluids, exercising regularly, and taking probiotic supplements. These are more likely to yield long-term results than consuming an internal shower.

Additionally, if you're looking to detox your whole body, experts recommend making several small lifestyle changes rather than relying on a single drink (via MaxLiving). These include eating more cruciferous vegetables, drinking enough water, taking immunity supplements, and getting enough sleep. Because the ingredients in the internal shower recipe do have health benefits that can ease bloating and promote wellness, it may be useful to incorporate the drink into your overall detox plan. But due to the potential health risks associated with chia seeds, it's best to consult your doctor first. The bottom line is the internal shower should always be used in conjunction with lifestyle changes and under the guidance of a professional.