Clips watched by millions show users downing a glass of water infused with lemon and filled with two tablespoons of chia seeds. It is said to flush the body out, acting as a natural laxative.
TikTok’s latest health trend — the ‘internal shower’ — may cause stomach problems, nutritionists said today.
Dietary experts told MailOnline the ‘hack’ — as it has been branded on social media — could cause bloating and discomfort if drunk too quickly.
Others accepted it could work, but warned that it could potentially cause a bowel obstruction, which is considered a medical emergency.
They said it was better to just eat more fibre from a variety of plant-based sources throughout the day in order to ease constipation.
Two tablespoons of chia seeds provides around 10g of fibre, equivalent to half a tin of baked beans and around a third of the daily recommended intake.
Fibre is essential for the bowel to function. It works by softening stool and bulking it up, making it easier to pass.
TV producer and writer Jac Vanek has clocked up hundreds of thousands of views on her video trialling the trend.
Meanwhile, NHS surgeon Dr Karan Rajan hailed the drink as ‘more of an internal drain cleaner than an internal shower’.
He described it as ‘probably one of the first TikTok trends that actually works and won’t kill you’ but warned it tasted like ‘frog spawn’.
Dozens of other gut health experts and food bloggers have advocated the trend, including Dr Lindsey Schmidt and Ashley McCrary-Mac, who each boast hundreds of thousands of followers.
Lemon is only added to bolster the taste, with the main benefits revolving around chia seeds alone.
As well as promoting good gut health, chia seeds have been linked to strengthening the bones and heart, improving blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of diabetes.
WHAT IS FIBRE AND HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT?
Fibre or roughage is part of food that passes through the body undigested.It stays in your gut and is the main part of your stools.
Fibre in food is essential for your bowel to work well.
It works by softening the stool and stimulating the muscles of the bowel.
Not eating enough fibre can cause constipation, diverticular disease and haemorrhoids.
Increasing the fibre in your diet helps keep stools soft, regular and more comfortable to pass.
Britons each an average of 18g per day but are told to eat 30g a day as part of a healthy and balanced diet.
Chia seeds, which cost £1 for 150g, absorb water quickly, and plump up their size several times when left in liquid.
They also form a gel like texture, which is easy to swallow and digest.
For this reason and their supposed plethora of health benefits, they are often added to smoothies, porridge and yoghurt.
Yet chia seeds are still considered a ‘novel food’ in the UK and Europe, meaning they have not been widely consumed so their effects have been barely studied.
But Professor Tom Sanders, a diet expert at King’s College London, told MailOnline: ‘I would not be surprised if they exacerbated irritable bowel syndrome.’
Dr Ian Johnson, a nutrition expert at the Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich, said chia seeds’ high fibre content could make them a ‘useful occasional dietary item’.
But he added: ‘As with any unusual dietary component, I doubt whether consuming high doses in a single meal is a very good idea.
‘Some unconventional sources of dietary fibre consumed in this way have been known to cause intestinal obstruction.’
Dr Johnson insisted, however, that there is no proof this is true for chia seeds.
Intestinal obstruction is when food content is unable to pass through the bowel because it can become blocked.
This can lead to dehydration, a hole in the bowel, causing its contents to lead into the abdomen, and aspiration — when the stomach contents is inhaled into the lungs.
Dozens of other gut health experts and food bloggers have advocated the trend, including Dr Lindsey Schmidt (left) and Ashley McCrary-Mac (right) who each boast hundreds of thousands of followers
Chia seeds, which cost £1 for 150g, are tiny black seeds from the Salvia hispanic plant — a member of the mint family
They absorb water quickly to form a gel like texture and are often added to smoothies, porridge and yoghurt for their health benefits. As well as promoting good gut health, the seeds have been linked to strengthening the bones and heart, improving blood sugar levels and reducing the risk of diabetes
Dr Carmen Piernas, a researcher and nutrition scientist at the University of Oxford, told MailOnline that fibre should come from a ‘variety of sources throughout the day, every day’.
She said: ‘Drinking this once a day would probably contribute to dietary fibre and should help gut health.
‘But it’s more important to consider the rest of the diet and try to follow a health plant-based dietary pattern that would surely contribute to reach the daily fibre recommendation, rather than a single dose with large amounts of fibre for which we don’t yet know the risks.’
Dr Duane Mellor, a dietitian at Aston Medical School in Birmingham, agreed that the TikTok concoction would be a good source of fibre.
But he told MailOnline it ‘could lead to bloating and discomfort’ if not consumed with enough water.
He said the seeds should be ‘consumed with plenty of fluid and ideally mixed into salads, breads or added to porridge rather than consumed mixed with water’.
TikTok has previously come under fire for dangerous viral trends, including one which encouraged people to try to shape molten hot honeycomb, which left one boy with third-degree burns.
And one girl had part of her bowel removed after swallowing magnets when copying clips that used them to create the appearance of a tongue piercing.