Have you heard of chia? I’ve eaten it for years, but until I began to research it, I didn’t realize what a truly amazing food it is.

Chia-seedsChia is a small seed that originally came from Mexico. Aztec warriors and long distance runners used it on long treks as a highly concentrated endurance food because of its incredible sustaining powers. Chia is the Mayan word for “strength.”

I’ll get on to the nutrients in chia in a minute, but first I want to tell you why it’s such a great food for IBS.

Chia is a good source of soluble fiber which is very soothing to the gut. A standard rule of thumb with IBS is to always eat your soluble fibre foods first. What could be easier than...

... having a little chia gel before a meal?

When you mix chia with water and leave it for 10 minutes, you will actually see the soluble fibre gel that forms because of its hydrophilic properties. (Click here for "How to Make Chia Gel.")

Hydro-what?

Chia is a “hydrophilic” food, meaning it readily absorbs moisture. In fact this little seed holds 12 times its weight in water.

Why is this important? Because when you have diarrhea, vomiting, or even a lot of sweating (as with heavy exercise), you lose fluids and electrolytes (specific nutrients.) This means your cells can’t function properly, so you feel awful, both physically (headaches, pain, etc) and emotionally (depression, anxiety.)

But a little chia will help you to maintain your fluid levels and restore your electrolytes so they are distributed normally across your cell membranes. Which is a complicated way of saying it helps you to feel better fast.

Helps whether you have diarrhea or constipation

Chia is an excellent food for IBS because it contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and is the richest plant source of omega 3’s – essential fatty acids that you can’t live without. These are important nutrients to help you regulate your bowel whether you have diarrhea or constipation.

If you are primarily vegetarian or vegan, or you’re going through a time when it’s hard to eat anything, chia provides complete protein and is easily digested and absorbed. You can eat it by itself or mixed with other foods. It slows the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar in the stomach, so it’s very helpful if you are diabetic, dieting, or just plain hungry. You’ll feel satisfied by your food sooner and longer and your blood sugar levels will be more even.

How to eat chia

There’s a special way to eat chia that makes it particularly soothing to digestion, although it’s not just a food for IBS. The rest of your family will benefit by eating this superfood, too!

The best way to eat chia is to make it into a gel. You only need one-sixth of a cup of chia seeds (about 3 1/2 tablespoons) to a cup of water to make a thick gel.

It’s true that chia gel looks gloppy and is…well…dark gray to black, which may not be the most appealing colour for a food, but this gel is very soothing to the digestion. So don’t judge it by looks alone.

You can eat a spoonful or two of chia gel either by itself whenever you need a quick pick-me-up or at the beginning of a meal so you start your meal with soluble fiber.

You can also add a spoonful or more of chia gel to blender drinks or mix it with other foods such as cereal, cooked potatoes, or with mashed or blended fruit to make a pudding.

Chia can be ground in a coffee grinder to make a powder before you mix it with water. This will make your gel even smoother.

Making the gel also saves you money by making your chia seeds go much farther.

Click here for “How to make chia gel.”

More benefits!

Chia has these additional benefits:

  • lowers high blood pressure
  • reduces inflammation by lowering blood levels of C-Reactive Protein
  • reduces food cravings
  • improves cardiovascular health
  • increases energy levels
  • enhances skin tone
  • makes pets healthier (mix chia with their food)
  • is said to help with pet diabetes
  • contains B vitamins, zinc, copper, and boron – the cofactor that improves your absorption of calcium
  • strong antioxidant properties
  • the essential fats in chia are known to improve brain function and stabilize emotions (depression, anxiety)
  • boosts metabolism
  • gluten-free and nutrient dense


So when you’re looking for a great food for IBS and for better health, chia is it!

By the way, there's more great information about food and IBS in our special report "Unlocking the Mystery of IBS." Along with that you'll get insider details about the top 5 triggers of IBS... including the one thing nobody has told you that is likely keeping you from getting better - and how to deal with it to resolve your symptoms. Simply put your email address in the box on the right for instant access to this special IBS information.

Join the discussion

We'd love to hear more about your experience with IBS - and with chia! Leave a comment below - first name only (your email will not show) and click on the Share buttons at the top of this article to share it with your friends.

For more information about chia, here are two books about this superfood:

Chia: Rediscovering a Forgotten Crop of the Aztecs, University of Arizona Press, 2005, by Dr. Wayne Coates and Ricardo Ayerza.

The Magic of Chia: Revival of An Ancient Wonder Food, Frog Books, 2000, by James F. Scheer. (Note: Dr. Coates says some of the information in this book is inaccurate as less was known about chia at the time it was written, but he adds that the recipes are excellent.)

More help for IBS:

Hi. We are Karen Alison and Kathy Raymond and we help people self-heal their IBS naturally, with a doctor-recommended method that addresses the least-recognized aspect of this hellish condition – the way the brain triggers uncontrollable symptoms in the gut.

IBS is a lot like having PTSD (also once believed to be untreatable) because of the way your autonomic nervous system is triggered to produce symptoms. But, in a few short sessions, you can learn how to retrain your brain so you shut down the neural pathways that lead straight to diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, and anxiety.

If you don’t deal with this underlying root cause of your problem, you’ll have to spend the rest of your life at the mercy of your Irritable Bowel… and it usually gets worse.

But you can make it stop NOW. Just click on this link for more information and follow the instructions to access the program.

 

Go to How To Make Chia Gel

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Find more information about natural remedies for your health conditions here.

Comments (34)

This post generated some real controversy!

Here's what one reader said: "Hello Karen and Kathy,
...

This post generated some real controversy!

Here's what one reader said: "Hello Karen and Kathy,

Yes, I already have known about chia seeds, and yes it is amazing for your ibs."

Another reader commented, "Have you actually tasted Chia? [A friend] and I tried it some time ago and thought that it was by far, the worst tasting food that we had ever had. So, we thought this article was very interesting given our experience with Chia."

I do eat chia myself and while I actually like it, I realize it's not to everyone's taste.

I also did not start out eating chia gel straight out of the bottle. (And you don't ever have to do this.) How I usually eat it is blended into a smoothie with bananas or other soluble fiber fruit and a few other ingredients. This completely hides the taste. If you eat oatmeal or instant quinoa, you can also mix it into those.

It's a concentrated food, so you only need a spoonful or two at a time.

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I have been taking chia seeds for just under a year and are thrilled with the effects of them. My IBS is more nervous muscle spasms, but I have found chia to keep me healthy and more grounded. I put 1 TBSP in a glass of warm water, leave it...

I have been taking chia seeds for just under a year and are thrilled with the effects of them. My IBS is more nervous muscle spasms, but I have found chia to keep me healthy and more grounded. I put 1 TBSP in a glass of warm water, leave it whilst I have a shower and come back and drink it. I must say I haven't found it make me fuller that I can miss morning tea, but I do feel more satisfied with breakfast.
I have told many pple about them and hope lots of pple use them. They are a wonder food.
Cheryl from New Zealand

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where do you buy chai seeds/powder?
any special kind?

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Hi Linda,
I usually buy them in the health food store. You can probably buy them in the natural foods section of the grocery store as well. Or find them online at my absolute favourite natural...

Hi Linda,
I usually buy them in the health food store. You can probably buy them in the natural foods section of the grocery store as well. Or find them online at my absolute favourite natural and organic food shop: Upaya Naturals and they'll send them right to your door. I just buy regular black chia. Some people like white, but there's not really any difference nutritionally as far as I know.

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I've had IBS for about two and a half years. It improved for a while because I was having acupuncture and other treatments, no drugs. Recently it flared up again, very badly, constant diarrhoea. Quite by accident I started eating chia pudding for...

I've had IBS for about two and a half years. It improved for a while because I was having acupuncture and other treatments, no drugs. Recently it flared up again, very badly, constant diarrhoea. Quite by accident I started eating chia pudding for breakfast, a big bowl with banana. Suddenly I noticed that everything was improving, tummy felt much more comfortable and hardly going to toilet at all. BM's are formed and not liquid. I recommend you try this if like me you are suffering from IBS, will see how it goes over the next few weeks.

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Good to know, Suzy. Thanks for your chia tip.

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I have had ibs for many years, am now glutten and dairy free and that helps a lot . Have tried chia seeds before and seem to get a lot of flatulence When I take it, mixed in with my rice flakes cooked like porridge. I stopped the chia again and...

I have had ibs for many years, am now glutten and dairy free and that helps a lot . Have tried chia seeds before and seem to get a lot of flatulence When I take it, mixed in with my rice flakes cooked like porridge. I stopped the chia again and the flatulence went.
I know how good it is, so what can I do?..
Trudy

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Hi Trudy,

Are you cooking the chia? If so, you may be killing off the enzymes in it that would help you to digest it. Have you tried...

Hi Trudy,

Are you cooking the chia? If so, you may be killing off the enzymes in it that would help you to digest it. Have you tried making chia gel and then mixing that with your hot cereal after you put it into the bowl (not in the pot on the stove.) My understanding is that chia isn't supposed to be cooked if you want to get the benefits.

Other possibilities for why you might have trouble with it: are you buying organic or conventionally-grown? The latter might have some chemical residue you're reacting to. Or, it's possible that you just don't tolerate chia.

Another option is flax seed - probably best to grind it in a coffee bean grinder before mixing with cereal. (Do not cook flax. Cooking destroys the nutrients.)

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Chia seeds saved my life. Because of IBS-D, I was seriously suicidal. Two teaspoons of chia with water every morning has almost eliminated the D, though even after a couple of years with no IBS I'm still wary about traveling.

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Hi Patti,

That is absolutely fantastic! I am thrilled to know that you are having such great benefits with chia. I'm guessing that the soluble fiber is helping you along with all the nutrients in the chia.

I wonder if you would feel more...

Hi Patti,

That is absolutely fantastic! I am thrilled to know that you are having such great benefits with chia. I'm guessing that the soluble fiber is helping you along with all the nutrients in the chia.

I wonder if you would feel more comfortable about travelling if you did a bit of EFT tapping on the D and on your worries about travel. If you look at a couple of our posts on Anxiety, you'll find a video that shows you how to tap. Just substitute your own words or focus on "travelling with D" when you tap along. Might give you a bit more freedom.

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