Chia seeds – what are the benefits?

Chia seeds come from the Salvia Hispanic desert plant and are part of the sage family.  You can eat the raw seeds on their  own or the plant itself for nutrients and vitamins. Some people prefer to eat the seeds as a gel after soaking them in water or juice if you want a sweeter taste (see below for method to make the gel).

Nutritional Value of Chia Seeds

It has been considered what we now call a “super food” for hundreds of years. The main benefits of eating these seeds is  the potential to reduce blood pressure and soothe digestive complaints.

Chia seeds contain a wide range of nutrients including:

NUTRIENT

BENEFIT

Protein structure and repair of cells, basis of hormone and enzyme manufacture
Calcium growth and maintenance of bones and teeth
Vitamins (high levels of Vitamin C) vit C – overall health, healing and immune response
Antioxidants help body’s defense mechanism
Omega-3 fatty acids linked to reduction of heart disease
Phosphorus with calcium helps strengthen bones and teeth
Manganese essential for many functions and enzyme activity
Potassium with sodium keeps body’s fluid levels balanced
Fiber efficient digestion and transit of foods
Sodium regulates fluid balance

In addition the use of chia seeds has been linked to improvements in;

They are gluten free and therefore an ideal choice to give to people with ceoliacs.

What do Chia Seeds taste like?

The seeds have a mild nutty taste. They don’t have a strong flavor at all and so go well with any type of dish whether  main course or dessert so it is easy to incorporate them into your diet.

Types of Chia Seed

You will come across white and dark colored chia seeds. Dark seeds have more protein than the white ones whereas white chia seeds are more rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. However, the dark ones are recommended as being best because  they contain more antioxidants and these actually protect the essential fatty acids.

The seeds should be stored in a dark air tight container to preserve all the goodness.

Do Chai Seeds Help with IBS?

The answer is YES they can.

  1. Since they are full of soluble fiber they are able to absorb a large amount of fluid compared to their size. This  means that they will absorb any fluid you might have consumed at the same time as eating them and this causes  them to increase in bulk (like a gel) as they pass through your digestive system. This helps your digestion of food  and keeps the colon hydrated so food can move along much easier. The additional benefit for IBS sufferers is that  this gel then “wipes” the inside of your intestinal wall as it passes along and removes any debris or residue that  might be lingering.
  2. The outer coating of chia seeds contains insoluble fiber. This type of fiber doesn’t get digested but helps to move  digested food along the bowel.

Are there any side effects?

Chia seeds are a natural food source and there are no reported side effects. However I would recommend that if you  start them do so using a small amount first since a sudden increase in fiber could have an unwelcome effect. There has been mention that people with some medical conditions shouldn’t consume to much Omega-3 and because they contain a large amount of these fatty acids they might not be suitable.

Also if you are taking any medication it is really important to check first before taking chia seeds as you could end up having unsafe levels of particular vitamins. As always consult your doctor if in any doubt.

Are they suitable for constipation or diarrhea?

Apparently they are suitable for both types of symptoms. The soluble fiber will help mop up fluid and act as a bulking agent and therefore make your stool more solid. It will also help to keep your gut hydrated which is important if you are prone to diarrhea.

For those with constipation as the main symptoms, chia seeds also help with this by acting like roughage and helping to move digested food along and keep you regular.

I have not tried these myself as I have been able to control my symptoms using other natural methods but there are a few comments from people who suffer specifically with IBS recommending their use. One sufferer went from having diarrhea 5 or 6 daily to just 1 bout after only 2 days of taking the seeds. After a week the person no longer had any diarrhea. (Some people recommend flax seeds for IBS but they are not suitable for those of us with diarrhea).

Making Chia Seeds into a Gel

Soak 1/3 cup of chia seeds in 2 cups of water and put in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to allow the seeds to swell and form a gel. One thing to note is that the longer you leave the seeds to soak the more nutrients are released. The
gel can be eaten by itself or added to a smoothie, yogurt, pudding or salad dressing. The great thing is that it goes equally well with sweet or savory food.

Recipes to make Chia Seeds More interesting

Since Chia seeds can be mixed in any food or drink they are extremely versatile and can be used in any recipe!

If you interested then I came across a great site that goes through 40 ways to use chia seeds as well as a long list of recipes to try (all free you don’t have to purchase a book).

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There is no specific chia seed product for IBS sufferers – but if you look on Amazon there are loads of reviews to confirm that they are helpful with bowel problems as well as many other conditions. They are also excellent for pets too!

===>Click here to read more information and customer reviews<===

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Disclaimer: you should always see your doctor before taking any supplement – even natural ones.

Posted in: IBS Supplements

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