Chia – An Amazing Food for IBS

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.”

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.

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

43 thoughts on “Chia – An Amazing Food for IBS”

  1. Karen of No-IBS

    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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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?..

  6. 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.)

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Great article. I have IBS and chia seed is an absolute necessity in my diet. I actually keep chia seed capsules by my bed stand at night. If I wake up with any colon discomfort, I swallow two with a cup of water and it settles my colon down. Chia seed gets put into my smoothie every morning. It is a part of my life.

  10. Hi Jennene,Thanks for your kind words! I’m so glad you mentioned the chia capsules. They would be perfect for people who don’t really like the taste of chia.

  11. Yes, I think chia powder is fine, too. You can actually make your own from the seeds if you have a coffee grinder – just grind them up into powder. I haven’t used chia capsules but I’m guessing they are filled with chia powder rather than seeds.

  12. Hi I’ve had IBS on and off for about 30 years (it was called spastic colon back then!) Then 20 years ago was diagnosed with ME. A couple of year ago had a big bout of bad IBS which I’m still struggling with. I bought the chia seeds a while ago and they’ve sat in the cupboard…..until I read this article! I’ve only used it for a couple of days but there is definitely an improvement already and I actually feel hungry instead of nauseous which is a real first. So thank you, I will continue to take the advice from the site and hope for a real upturn in my health.

  13. Hi Mandy,I’m glad to hear you are having good results with chia. That’s very interesting that they helped with your nausea – I wasn’t aware of that benefit.Thanks for letting us know you found the article helpful and all the best for your health!

  14. Thanks for this great info….my mom gave me chia seed a while ago and they’ve just been hanging out in my fridge. I have never been diagnosed, but I feel like I have mild IBS-D. I always get a nervous stomach when in public or stressful situations. I’m going on a trip shortly (8 hours in a car) so I am hoping that this chia seed gel will assist me!

  15. Hi Mark,Since you say you’re experiencing nervousness around stressful situations and in public – which is an experience a lot of us have! – you might benefit tremendously from EFT Tapping. It certainly helped me with those situations. There’s a video about how to tap on one of our pages about anxiety : the tapping before you have to go out somewhere or for a long drive and see if that makes a difference for you. One of the women I worked with took a four-hour drive on her own after she released some of her anxiety with tapping. Later, she went on a 3-week trip to the Mediterranean! Prior to this, she was basically housebound and never went anywhere unless it was very close to her house. So that change was very exciting for her.Thanks for your kind words.

  16. Hi Karl,Chia seeds are a good source of soluble fiber so they help many people with symptoms. However, you might also want to take a look at your diet – if your food choices agree with you or you have food intolerances, and work on reducing your stress levels. Kathy and I have found EFT Tapping to be very helpful for this. I think if you read more of the articles on this site, you will find some useful information about different things you can do to improve your condition. Do you take digestive enzymes?

  17. I’m buying some Chia seeds today. I’d buy a Ferrari if it would help my IBS. Chia seeds are cheaper. 🙂

  18. hi i suffer from IBS since last two year i am on medication for it and on a restricted diet also but there is no improvement can you suggest me something.

  19. Hi Sucheta,If medication and diet are not helping, your IBS may be the result of trauma. I would suggest you get either our No IBS Program or our IBS ebook, which will take you through the steps to address this issue. You can find them on our Products page.

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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.)

  26. 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! 🙂

  27. Severe ibsdAnyone 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?

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