TikTok’s “internal shower” & understanding detox dangers
Is the latest viral health trend even safe? An expert weighs in.
Alright, I doubt all of you are hanging out on TikTok. But after seeing this “internal shower” pop up on my social media feeds these past few weeks, I figured it was time for us to talk about it. Because we know that any “quick fix” health claim some guru is making on the Internet is probably not true…so we gotta debunk it.
First, if you’re not familiar with the trend, let’s take a look. Here’s a helpful video I found over on TikTok that explains it.
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In the video we see a woman mixing together water and chia seeds, sometimes with a squeeze of lemon, then drinking it in order to help with constipation and “get things moving.” Some claim that this little drink can help with inflammation and bloating by detoxing your insides, or as it is popularly known as, giving your body an “internal shower.”
So, is the internal shower safe? I turned to an expert to get the low-down.
“Like most TikTok trends, the internal shower takes a simple nutrition concept and turns it into a viral ‘hyped up’ sensation,” says Kelsey Lorencz, RDN, owner of Graciously Nourished. “Chia seeds are a high fiber food, with four grams of mostly soluble fiber in each tablespoon. Adding two tablespoons of chia seeds to water and drinking it can help move food through the digestive tract more easily and make your bowel movements softer. It’s relatively safe, but doing this could lead to some discomfort, bloating, and possibly diarrhea.”
Long story short, drinking chia seeds in water isn’t inherently bad for you, but it can cause discomfort during digestion if you’re not used to consuming that much fiber. This quite literally does the opposite when it comes to debloating. If you’re not used to that much fiber, your body will likely bloat.
Consuming two tablespoons of chia seeds is the equivalent of almost 10 grams of fiber. Now, The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend women consume between 21 to 25 grams of fiber in a day, and men consume 30 to 38 grams a day. However, most Americans only consume between 10 to 15 grams a day. If you’re immediately increasing your fiber intake at once, you will experience immense digestion discomfort.
The “internal shower” is merely another quick fix to a long-term problem.
When it comes to health, our society is obsessed with finding quick fixes. The numerous fad diets that promise to drop pounds quickly, and of course, the myriad of detoxes that promise to relieve your body of all its toxins and make you instantly healthier.
“As a culture, we want the quick fix,” says Lorencz. “Detoxes promise to undo everything ‘bad’ we’ve eaten or drank by ridding the body of toxins. It’s the band-aid cure that doesn’t actually work. When it comes down to it, your body is naturally detoxing every day.”
This especially makes sense when you think about how our culture functions—we’re all about finding the quickest solution and moving on with our lives. Why work on something long-term and have to patiently wait for results? While research shows that slow and steady wins the race when it comes to long-term health (and, yes, even weight loss), our society ignores the facts and still is drawn to the one-and-done mindset. Like a cup of water full of chia seeds.
Your liver can detox for you, sans juice or chia seed cleanses.
While the internal shower isn’t inherently bad for you, the thought of having to consume a drink in order to detox your insides is the type of thinking you want to avoid for your health.
Here’s the truth—you do not need to detox your insides. Your liver can handle it.
The liver is in charge of converting toxins into waste, cleansing your blood, as well as metabolizing your food and medicine. It doesn’t need a juice cleanse in order to make it work properly after eating “bad” foods or drinking too much alcohol, even though most cleanses are marketed to make you think differently. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, these cleanses aren’t even approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The only true detox beverage to have is water. It doesn’t detox your body directly, but it helps with digestion and getting things moving in your body. Hence why dietitians will still say the chia seed beverage is fine, although it may cause serious discomfort.
Be like the turtle—not the rabbit.
When we hear “slow and steady wins the race,” we likely think of a race between a turtle and a rabbit. There’s even video proof that shows a tortoise beating a rabbit in a race, teaching us all that while the journey is slow, the victory is sweet.
The same is completely true for our health. Instead of trying to quickly fix a problem (and getting easily distracted, like the rabbit in that video), focus on being like the turtle.
“It makes more sense to eat a balanced healthful diet and make eating plenty of fiber and drinking water a part of your routine,” says Lorencz.
So instead of following the latest TikTok trend or buying into an expensive juice cleanse, be a turtle. Take your time—take it slow. Find healthier habits that will get you towards your health goals for the long term.
Not sure where to start? I love sharing these 9 Healthy Habits to Live Over a Century that I wrote for Eat This! They are easily attainable habits that you can form into your lifestyle. Slowly, of course.
Cold pasta salad is a go-to for me in the summertime, especially for a celebratory weekend like the Fourth of July. If you’re stuck on what to make this weekend and need an idea, here’s how to throw together one of my favorite summer go-to recipes.
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