What the heck is the 'internal shower' trend taking over TikTok right now?

·4-min read

From 'face wine' to the 12-3-30 treadmill workout, there seems to be no end to the TikTok trends that promise [insert body transformation here]. And the latest trend taking over our TikTok feed is the 'internal shower', which claims to relieve constipation quicker than you can say constipation.

"I haven't pooped in two days and your girl needs some help!" one TikToker who took part in the trend told her followers, later revealing that "it worked". Elsewhere, Dr Karan Raj – famous for his own medical myth-busting TikToks – said: "It's more of an internal drain cleaner than it is an internal shower"

So, what is an 'internal shower'? Can doing the 'internal shower' trend actually relieve constipation? And, most importantly, is TikTok's 'internal shower' trend safe?

What is an 'internal shower'?

According to the users who've taken part in the trend, an 'internal shower' involves mixing two tablespoons of chia seeds, the juice of half a lemon and a cup of water before leaving the mixture to sit for ten minutes until it has turned gelatinous. The next step is to drink the mixture and then wait for nature to take its, err, course...

How can chia seeds relieve constipation?

"A single tablespoon of chia seeds contains around six grams of fibre, which is great especially as many of us are fibre deficient," says Rohini Bajekal, a nutritionist at Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, pointing out that adults in the UK are recommended to get around 30g of dietary fibre each day – although the latest figures suggest that the average fibre intake for adults is just 18g, which is 60% of what it should be.

So, what's the link between the fibre in chia seeds and constipation? "It seems likely that chia seeds could be helpful for those suffering from constipation, owing to their high fibre content and propensity to attract water," Dr Deborah Lee at Dr Fox Online Pharmacy tells Cosmopolitan UK. "Fibre is needed to bulk out the stool, and water helps to soften it."

Dr Lee went on: "When the intestinal contents are bulked-out, this exerts pressure on the bowel wall, stimulating peristalsis and helping speed up the gut transit time. If the food contents pass through the intestines too slowly, this gives more time for water to be absorbed into the bloodstream. The stool then becomes harder, and more difficult to pass. So, it is vital to keep the intestinal contents at the correct consistency, and moving through the gut at a proper speed, to avoid constipation."

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

But, that's not to say that we should all add an 'internal shower' to our daily routine. In fact, rather than relying on an 'internal shower', Dr Lee points out that it is "far more preferable to eat a regular, balanced diet that is full of fruit and vegetables and including high fibre foods."

"If you enjoy this concoction, go for it!" Bajekal adds. "This lemon water and chia seed drink will provide some fibre and a rather small amount of Vitamin C and antioxidants, as well as helping with hydration, but don't expect any miracle results."

Is TikTok's 'internal shower' trend safe?

"For most people, most of the time, the internal shower is unlikely to pose any specific dangers," Dr Lee says to those still considering taking part in the trend. However, she stresses that no one should use any form of laxatives without medical advice if:

  • They have any signs of bowel obstruction, such as not passing a stool for several days along with symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, nausea and vomiting – in which case, you should seek urgent medical help

  • They have had a sudden change of bowel habit that has lasted for at least two weeks

  • They have had any bleeding from the rectum

What are the pros/cons of adding chia seeds to your diet?

"Chia seeds are small but nutritional powerhouses along with other types of seeds," Bajekal tells us. "They are a source of protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and niacin and a rich source of antioxidants."

"If you're new to eating chia seeds, start with a small amount (e.g. one teaspoon) and build your way up," the nutritionist adds. "For some people, often those who are not currently getting enough dietary fibre, a large amount [of chia seeds] will likely cause abdominal bloating, indigestion, gas, diarrhoea or constipation, especially if you're not hydrating enough," Bajekal notes. "[But having] a few tablespoons of chia seeds each day is a good amount to aim for as part of a healthy plant-based diet rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds."

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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