Aloe vera is a cactus plant that is typically found in tropical areas of the world. It thrives in warm, dry climates and is one of over 300 different species of the aloe plant! This plant has been used over thousands of years by many different civilisations because of its medicinal properties and as a result, you will find many aloe vera based products is the health and beauty industry.
Aloe Vera Medicinal Uses
This plant has a juicy inside and it has been discovered that the juice does appear to have medicinal properties. What is aloe vera juice good for? Well, health benefits of aloe vera juice mostly relate to skincare and it appears to be effective for reducing inflammation and for treating skin injuries and skin conditions. In more recent times, products such as aloe water, aloe vera drinks and organic aloe vera juice have become more widely available with some suggesting that it may help with digestion and even weight loss. Is there any substance to these claims and will these types of products actually help with weight loss?
Aloe Vera Side Effects
Before looking at potential benefits, there are a few side effects to be aware of. Some potential side effects include digestive issues such as stomach cramps, stomach pain and diarrhea. It does appear to have laxative effect on the body and can therefore negatively impact hydration levels. One recent study also linked it with muscle weakness however, more research is required on this to confirm if this is the case.
Benefits of drinking aloe vera
Some proposed benefits to having a regular aloe vera juice drink include maintaining good pH levels, provision of many nutrients, improved hydration, reduction of digestive issues (such as constipation), improved liver function and improved skin health. Whilst it is true that this plant is full of vitamins and minerals, as well as anti-inflammatory enzymes, there are only a small number of studies investigating the impact that supplementing aloe vera has on the body which therefore makes it very difficult to confirm or deny many of these apparent benefits.
How to eat aloe vera
Aloe vera can be ingested, is fairly tasteless and therefore can be added to a variety of different dishes or drinks without compromising the flavour. Only specific plants are edible, so ensure that you have purchased the correct species. Prior to consumption, it must be prepared properly otherwise you may you may experience some side effects. You want to avoid eating the latex, which is a substance found underneath the green skin. It’s vital that you ensure to cut off the spiked end, remove the green skin and scrape out the gel. You can save the gel, it is perfectly safe to eat, add to a drink or use on your skin.
Recommendations for intake
As mentioned, Aloe Vera does have a laxative effect on the body and as a result we should be wary of drinking too much to avoid developing problems with digestion. You should also ensure to check the label of the product (especially juice drinks) as many of them may be packed full of sugar and other artificial ingredients which can diminish any potential health benefits.
Aloe vera benefits for weight loss
Unfortunately, the apparent benefits of supplementation appear to lack solid evidence. One explanation to why it may appear to cause weight loss is to do with the laxative effect it has on the body. The laxative effect prompts the large intestine to empty which will cause an individual’s body weight to drop which can cause an individual to believe they have lost weight. In reality, the perceived weight loss comes about through the emptying of water and electrolytes in the bowel movement; this weight will be regained when the individual hydrates once again.
Whilst, there do appear to be benefits of aloe vera juice they appear to be more in relation to skincare rather than in regards to weight loss. If you are looking to lose weight, it is not going to bring about significant body compositional change. The only mechanism that drives this change is a calorie deficit – which is where you consume less calories per day than your body needs.