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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.")


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.

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Comments (35)

  1. Laura

Severe ibsd
Anyone know how much chia I should ingest daily and how often?
Also I suffer from severe adominal pain when on loperimide and wonder if anyone else does?

  1. Adina

I've been using organic sprouted chia seed powder for a few months and I've noticed a big difference in my IBS-D. I take 2 tablespoons in almond milk twice a day, once in the morning and once before bed. I love these little super seeds!

  1. Jennie

I tried the Chia the way it was said to make it. I suffered with spasms all day.

  1. Karen of

Thanks, Sue!
Great idea. The one caveat I would offer is that many people with IBS do poorly with soy, so the rice milk or nut milk "yogurts" might be better (as long as you have no nut allergies.)

  1. Sue B.

I am a baker and a vegan. There are some nice vegan "yogurts" out there made from various nut milks, rice, or soy that would also add to the protein etc. of this pudding.

  1. Karen of No-IBS

Wow, Elizabeth, thanks for the fantastic recipe!!
For people who are dairy-sensitive, they could make this without the yogurt and I'm sure it would be just as delicious.

  1. Elizabeth

I make various chia "puddings" that are delicious and control my hunger. Here is the one I made for lunch yesterday as I had some extra puréed bananas (they need to be ripe) that I use for muffins: mix 2 tsp. chia seeds with water & let stand -...

I make various chia "puddings" that are delicious and control my hunger. Here is the one I made for lunch yesterday as I had some extra puréed bananas (they need to be ripe) that I use for muffins: mix 2 tsp. chia seeds with water & let stand - separate bowl mix together 1/3 cup puréed bananas (1 banana), 1/2 cup natural 2% fat yogurt, 1/8 tsp. stevia powder, 1 oounce lite coconut milk, stir the chia gelatin mix and add to bowl. A satisfying and low calorie (218 calories) and decent protein lunch (7.9 mg) . The main thing is how helpful this is for IBS sufferers. Enjoy!

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  1. Helene

Great! This is great news for me! Thanks a million!

  1. Karen of No-IBS

Hi Sarah,

On this site, that is not gross; that is exciting news! Congratulations - I'm glad the chia is working so well for you!

  1. Sarah

I haven't been officially diagnosed with IBS, but have suffered from severe constipation for about a year, but have had bowel issues for about 12 years. I have always eaten healthy and take in a lot of fiber, and just couldn't seem to get...

I haven't been officially diagnosed with IBS, but have suffered from severe constipation for about a year, but have had bowel issues for about 12 years. I have always eaten healthy and take in a lot of fiber, and just couldn't seem to get "normal" no matter what I tried. A couple of weeks ago I saw some chia seeds at the super market and decided to give them a try, not realizing that they would change my life! Since I started eating chia seeds with breakfast and lunch, I have had the most perfect bowel movements. Sorry that may sound gross, but struggling for so long with painful gas/bloating/severe constipation/random diarrhea, this has been a miracle for me. I feel like I am healed from any problems I was having before. I am so thankful that I found chia seeds, I feel like my life has been changed. I love how they taste and I add them to just about anything that I eat. My favorite is a slice of gluten free toast with a small spread of peanut butter, and then pour on the chia. It's amazing. If anyone is struggling from bowel problems, I would highly recommend giving these a try. I hope that others will have the same results as me, I feel so much better.

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