PANDEMIC WINTER HEALTH HACKS

5 Cheers for Chia Seeds

Illustration: Sophi Gullbrants

My primary care doctor is a keeper. Sharp, gracious, and no-nonsense, she frequently impresses me with how well she’s kept her human shine intact after a long career in clinical medicine. After all, as many docs will readily acknowledge, the grind of patient care and ensuing burnout can suck the gentle goodwill right out of you.

Six months ago, Dr. Amazing enlightened me about something I won’t soon forget: “We should all be pooping about a pound a day.” Okkkkay. Because she’s so cool, I listened as she got excited about the topic — nodding slowly and repressing my urge to be grossed out. “So fiber, fiber, fiber is what I tell folks. That and exercise matter a lot.”

She went on to tell me that her favorite way to uplevel to an adequate fiber intake is by sprinkling chia seeds on everything from soups to salads to smoothies to grains. So I responded as I do with all advice from her: I followed it. And six months on, my chia game is strong, which feels great for a few reasons.

The first is gut health; fiber is just what the microbiome needs. Two, by dosing myself with enough fiber, I not only feel better, but I relax the worries that occasionally surface about a family history of colon cancer. Three, as the pandemic rages on, food is medicine in the effort to keep immune systems strong. Four, wintertime often means we’re eating less fresh fruit (a key source of fiber), so the boost feels particularly helpful now. And five, let’s just say it works.

Senior Platform Editor, Elemental. I write and edit stories about health, science, well-being, and behavior.

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