Overnight shortcuts to better digestive health come and go on TikTok at the rate of knots – but the rolling feed of quick-fix DIY health trends has been dominated by one particular hack of late: the “internal shower” drink.
Made from just three ingredients – water, chia seeds and lemon juice – devotees of the refreshment gripping “guttok” are adamant the detoxifying blend proves to be greater than the sum of its parts.
“If you drink this on an empty stomach, it literally is like an internal shower — it gets into all the nooks and crannies of your gut like an internal washing,” Daryl Gioffre, the drink’s creator, told Skinny Confidential podcast.
The social media platform has been rife with videos of those who have tried the drink attesting to its alleged ability to alleviate constipation, bloating and even hangovers. But is it actually beneficial to your gut health?
What is the internal shower drink?
The recipe for the drink runs as follows:
- Add 2 tbsp of chia seeds to a full glass of water
- Add up to a whole lemon’s worth of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Optionally add 1/8 tsp of sea salt
- Stir and allow the chia seeds to absorb the water for up to 15 minutes
- Stir once more and drink
Can it “boost” digestion?
TikTokers have touted the “internal shower” drink as a digestion booster – but is this true, or even possible?
The beverage makes use of chia seeds – ultra-absorbant, fibre-rich seeds which swell significantly when placed in liquid and take on a distinctive gel-like texture.
They are broadly considered to promote good digestive health and feed healthy gut bacteria.
But promoting good gut health is not the same as “boosting” or supercharging the body’s digestive functions.
For most, these processes run automatically in the body, and it is not possible to speed up the enzymatic processes that help to breakdown food, or keep digestion and absorption ticking.
Can it alleviate constipation?
Some experts have suggested that TikTok’s users may have conflated the concept of “boosting” digestion with alleviating constipation.
In fact, a number of the drink’s online admirers claimed to have reaped this benfit from the drink.
Amy Fischer, MS, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian in the Good Housekeeping Institute, told the affiliated magazine that chia seeds can be beneficial in treating constipation, but only if introduced slowly and smaller quantities.
The “internal shower”, which requires its consumer drinking multiple two-tablespoon servings a day, could, in fact, have the opposite impact on the gut.
“As with any source of fiber, too much too soon can have the opposite effect and lead to constipation or diarrhea, gas and/or bloating, which would be the negative,” she explained.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds weigh about 20-25 grams, providing 9-10 grams of fibre. Considering the recommended adult daily intake target is 30 grams per day, according to the NHS, the “internal shower” could be a little over-zealous.
“If your diet is void of fiber and you suddenly add a large amount that your body isn’t used to, this is when digestive distress could happen,” she adds.
She recommends instead halving the number of chia seeds called for in the recipe, and to drink plenty of water alongside it to help with their absorption.
“Slow and steady is the best way to add chia to your diet and reap the benefits,” she said.
The bottom line is that the “internal shower” is no quick fix for your gut health.
A steady, consistent and varied diet packed with a broader spectrum of fibre-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables or wholemeal bread – chia seeds, too – will yield the best results for your gut.
For more tips on promoting good gut health, see these five lifestyle tips for a healthy tummy from the NHS here.