What is the 'internal shower' TikTok trend and how will it affect your body?
The latest viral TikTok Trend – #internalshower – has had more than 46 million views already, and counting.
But what exactly is it? And how does it affect your body?
The idea seems to be that drinking warm water, chia seeds and lemon juice has an instant laxative effect.
After stirring a couple of tablespoons of chia seeds into the water, adding the lemon and leaving it to sit for five-10 minutes, a never-ending stream of people (mostly women) are filming themselves trying it out.
And they're even giving an update on the results (the effects of their bowel movements, essentially).
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With the trend not looking like it's dying out anytime soon, we consulted nutritionist Signe Svanfeldt, from leading nutrition app Lifesum, to understand the 'internal shower' a little more.
What, in theory, would drinking warm water, chia seeds and lemon juice do to your body? "The ‘internal shower’ could help to aid bowel movements, although it is not certain that constipation will be relieved by drinking it," she says.
"Dietary fibre and water can also help to tackle bloating, which is a common symptom of constipation," and including it in your diet is "beneficial for out gut health and aids digestion".
Chia seeds have around around 34 g of fibre/100g, Svanfeldt explains.
"There’s no specific recommendation of the amount of chia seeds to consume daily, but, as with all foods, variety and balance is key. In an overall healthy varied diet, around one-two tablespoons (10-20 g) of chia seeds, will provide you with some extra dietary fibre, healthy fats plus vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and zinc."
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But is the 'internal shower' a safe thing to do? "Consuming chia seeds and water is safe unless you are allergic or have any underlying disease where you are sensitive to eating seeds," says Svanfeldt.
"Too high doses of dietary fibre for those that aren't used to it can, however, actually have the opposite effect, and result in an upset stomach, constipation and bloating. So if you aren’t used to eating a lot of dietary fibre, it can be beneficial to increase the amount slowly and to include a lot of water as you go, as the water can help to aid the symptoms."
As it seems some people are using the hack to aid weight loss, Svanfeldt also addresses whether this specifically is safe, or an effective method. "A specific food item will not result in weight loss, but they can however be included in the overall diet. If you want to lose weight, it’s important to eat a balanced, nutrient rich diet while being on an energy deficit.
"Nutrient rich foods include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils), and nuts and seeds – so, yes, chia seeds can be included. It’s very important not to be on a too large energy deficit, as that can be harmful and won't provide your body with the nutrients and energy needed."
She reiterates that for those who are allergic, or for any other reason shouldn't consume seeds, mixing water with chia seeds should be avoided completely.
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Are there any alternative methods to try? "There are other seeds out there that are fibre-rich and have the same “gel” effects as chia such as psyllium seeds, but she emphasises that "the important thing is to not rely on a single food for your stomach health".
"If you eat an overall healthy diet rich in dietary fibre (whole grains, vegetables and fruits), drink a sufficient amount of water and include regular physical activity – you will give your stomach great conditions for normal bowel movements."
With the main ingredient evidently is chia seeds, the lemon mainly seems to be there just to add some flavour – despite being loosely linked to aiding digestion, as well as containing vitamin C which has health benefits of its own.
So, while the 'internal shower' might not necessarily be the most crazy TikTok trend there's been, it shouldn't be relied on to achieve any 'goal', and instead people should incorporate healthy foods like chia seeds into their diet normally.
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