Chia Seeds for IBS: How a Little Seed Helps GI Discomfort

Our Mayan ancestors coined this tiny black seed “chia” because it means “strength” in Maya. This plant-based food source is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids that can help boost our endurance. However, chia seeds aren’t just a powerhouse in the weight room. They’re also ideal for easing the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Let’s take a look at why you should consume chia seeds for IBS and how to add more chia strength to your healthy gut diet plan.

What are Chia Seeds?

chia seeds for ibs
Little but powerful

Chia seeds originated in South America. Early Aztec and Mayan ancestors cultivated this crop throughout subtropical regions. The seeds are derived from the flowering plant, Salvia hispanica. This classification makes chia seeds related to the mint family.

These minuscule superfoods are oval-shaped. They are predominantly gray with black or white spots. Chia seeds have a hard exterior, making these protein sources hard to chew. That’s why many people soak chia seeds prior to use, add them to yogurts, or blend into smoothies.

Nutritional Benefits of Chia Seeds

As they say, “big things come in small packages.” For such a small food, chia seeds are packed with nutrition. This gluten-free food source is extremely low on the glycemic index. Just one ounce of nutrition powerhouse contains 137 calories [1].

Complete Protein Source

Vegans love themselves some chia!

You can use chia seeds for IBS; however, many vegans use this powerhouse as a protein source. Just one ounce contains 9% of the recommended daily value of protein per day.

Plus, chia seeds are complete proteins. They contain all of the essential amino acids our body doesn’t produce on their own. As an omnivore, you can receive a majority of these amino acids through animal fats. Seeing as vegans opt-out on meat, they must turn to other sources, like chia seeds.

Heart Health

Not only are chia seeds a complete protein source, but they have an ideal balance of omega-3s to omega-6s.

A smorgasbord of omega-3s

One ounce of chia seeds contains:

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids (4915 mg)
  • Omega-6 Fatty Acids (1620 mg)

This balance is around the recommended 3:1 ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s. Typically, the Standard American Diet (SAD) is inundated with omega-6s in comparison to omega-3s.

Consequently, too many omega-6s can lead to the development of calcium build-ups in the arteries, resulting in heart disease. Thankfully, eating omega-3 rich foods can improve the development of atherosclerosis, a condition where fatty build-ups cause arteries to thicken.

An analysis involving omega-3 fatty acid, Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), found,

“Investigators fed LDLr-deficient mice with a high fat diet for 8 weeks before switching to a normal diet with or without 5% EPA for an additional 4 weeks. EPA supplementation increased plasma HDL levels and caused the plaque to regress by 20.9%. Furthermore, the expression of several pro-inflammatory factors including IFN-γ, IL-12, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, were all significantly reduced in the atherosclerotic plaques in the EPA-treated mice [2].”

Nature Reviews, Cardiology

As noted, EPA helped lower levels of LDL cholesterol, while exponentially improving HDL cholesterol levels. So, not only should you eat chia seeds for IBS, you can consume the strength pellets for heart health, too!

Other Nutrients in Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are also rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals necessary for optimal functioning. This superfood contains a ton of nutrition in small servings.

This efficient energy source also contains:

  • Copper (3%)
  • Zinc (7%)
  • Calcium (18% DV)
  • Phosphorous (27% DV)
  • Manganese (30% DV)
  • Dietary Fiber (37%)

As you can see, there is an abundance of dietary fibers in these heart-healthy snacks. Let’s take a closer look at the fiber in chia seeds. After all, these nutrients are the primary reason as to why people consume chia seeds for IBS.

Why Use Chia Seeds for IBS?

Chia seeds are rich in soluble fiber. Soluble fiber is critical for improving many GI problems. The reason soluble fiber relieves gastrointestinal distress is that it helps draw in water. Let’s take a look at how this characteristics makes chia seeds for IBS a must.

Helps You Go to Bathroom

A majority of us don’t drink enough water every day. Therefore, we need help from the foods we eat. By consuming chia seeds, its soluble fibers will seek water from other food sources, muscles, and other parts of the body. This benefit helps add liquid to bulky stool, making it easier to pass.

Eases Symptoms of IBS

chia seeds for ibs
Chia compliments many foods that improve gut health

Consuming chia seeds for IBS can help with symptoms, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach Pain
  • Digestion
  • Bathroom Frequency
  • Vomiting

Consuming chia seeds for IBS symptoms is a more natural way of handling GI problems than over-the-counter meds. Eating seeds is non-habit-forming and provides you with a bunch of nutrition. However, the benefits of chia seeds for IBS don’t end with the bathroom. They set you up for an overall healthy lifestyle.

Replenishes Water and Electrolytes

Whether nausea caused by IBS makes you vomit, or you have an extreme case of diarrhea, IBS taps your water supply. We can quickly become dehydrated and lose out on electrolytes due to IBS.

Chia seeds are hydrophilic. Therefore, they attract liquids. In fact, these little seeds hold up to 15 times their weight in water!

An analysis on the health benefits of chia seeds stated,

“Chia seed contains appreciable amount of fibre, which can absorb up 15 times water the weight of seed. The presence of higher extents of fibre help in diabetes mellitus by slowing down the digestion process and release of glucose, it also improves the peristaltic movement of intestine and reducing plasma cholesterol [3].”

Journal of Food and Science Technology

As the study noted, chia seeds also helped with involuntary movements of the intestine. Therefore, chia seeds can improve the ease of bowel movements, nutrient absorption, and gut motility. These are even more reasons why chia seeds for IBS are an excellent addition to your healthy gut diet plan.

Can You Have Too Many Chia Seeds for IBS?

Just as too many of one type of beneficial stomach bacteria or omega-6 fatty acids can throw off a system, so can too many chia seeds. It’s best to err on the side of caution when consuming chia seeds for IBS. Otherwise, you can actually worsen your symptoms.

Having too many chia seeds when you have IBS may cause:

chia seeds for ibs
A little chia goes a long way

When you start consuming chia seeds, stick to the dietary guidelines we’ve already presented. Begin with one ounce. If you don’t notice any benefits, only go up by a 1/2 teaspoon. Once you start to feel gastrointestinal distress, back off.

Everyone’s sensitivity to chia seeds for IBS is different. One ounce may still be too much. Cut back a 1/4 of a teaspoon per serving until you find that sweet spot.

Chia Seeds for IBD

If you are experiencing flare-ups of Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD), lay off the chia seeds. While this higher-fiber food is excellent for preventative care and treatment, chia can also exasperate symptoms.

So, if you are already feeling the effects of your bouts with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease, stop eating the chia. Once the flare-ups subside, you can slowly integrate chia seeds into your routine.

How to Consume Chia Seeds for IBS?

While chia seeds have been around for centuries, the masses are just waking up to its potential benefits. Now, this superfood is blowing up and being added to everything. Here are some easy ways to add chia seeds for IBS to your healthy gut diet plan.

Chia Gel

As we mentioned, chia seeds have a grainy and tough exterior. Therefore, they might pose as a choking hazard or add an uncomfortable crunch to your food. The best way to soften up your chia seeds for IBS is to create a chia gel.

chia gel for ibs
Chia gel and pudding are the two most popular ways to consume these seeds

All you need to do is add 1/3 cups of chia seeds to two cups of distilled water in a container you can seal. Mix the two together, so they are well-integrated. Then shake the mixture vigorously for 15 seconds. Mix with anything from fresh lime juice to apple cider vinegar to honey, or just leave your chia water alone. Place the container in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

You will see that this hydrophilic food source will puff up. You now have a gelatinous-like superfood. Eat this chia gel as-is or add to an energy drink. Vegans can also use this concoction as an egg substitute for baking!

Add to Yogurt Bowl

Another popular way to consume chia seeds for IBS in a yogurt bowl. Like water, probiotic-rich yogurt will get sucked up by the chia seeds. So, mix in your chia and allow your yogurt bowl to sit for a few minutes. This probiotic treat will get thicker and easier to digest.

Mix with Oatmeal

Next time you’re allowing your oatmeal to sit, add in some chia seeds. They, too, will soak up the hot water in your breakfast. Now, you have a complete protein source to kickstart and energize your day that provides you with both the soluble and insoluble fiber you need to defeat IBS.

Thryve Gut Health Program and Chia Seeds for IBS

Unsure if chia seeds for IBS are right for you? Speak to your doctor if you are on any medications before upping your chia seed intake. In the meantime, take a moment to join the Thryve Gut Health Program, as well.

foods for gut health thryve inside recommendations
Get personalized insights with the
Thryve Gut Health Program

As a member of the Thryve Gut Health Program, we will test the stomach bacteria in the system. That way, we can determine which intestinal flora are triggering your bouts of IBS.

From there, we can figure out a healthy gut diet plan to promote probiotic growth and fight off the spread of pathogens. Our database of 1,500 ingredients can help you find delicious and innovative ways to consume chia seeds for IBS.

Thryve Probiotics Gut Health

Resources

[1] “Seeds, Chia Seeds, Dried Nutrition Facts & Calories.” Nutrition Data Know What You Eat., 25 May 2018, nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2.

[2] Moss, Joe W E, and Dipak P Ramji. “Nutraceutical Therapies for Atherosclerosis.” Nature Reviews. Cardiology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5228762/.

[3] Ullah, Rahman, et al. “Nutritional and Therapeutic Perspectives of Chia (Salvia Hispanica L.): a Review.” Journal of Food Science and Technology, Springer India, Apr. 2016, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4926888/.