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 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.”
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)
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:
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