People have been enjoying the myriad benefits of aloe vera for more than 5000 years – in fact aloe vera was once an integral component of Cleopatra’s beauty regime, whilst Alexander the Great used it to treat his soldiers’ wounds. Today aloe vera juice is often harnessed as a natural treatment for sunburned skin and allergies, and the wonderfully soothing gel is routinely found in commercial skin care products, after-sun lotions and cosmetics. Yet, there’s actually far more to aloe vera juice than its skin nourishing and wound healing properties alone. Indeed, modern research is increasingly linking aloe vera juice to a number of additional health benefits, including weight loss!
What is aloe vera juice?
Aloe vera juice is the nutrient-dense sap that’s extracted from the leaves of the Aloe Vera plant – a succulent species of plant that belongs to the Asphodelaceae (Liliaceae) family and is also known as the ‘Barbados Aloe’, ‘Burn Plant’ and ‘First Aid Plant’. Believed to have originated in the Arabian Peninsula, the aloe vera plant predominantly thrives in arid regions of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. It boasts pretty yellow flowers, a fruit crammed with seeds, and fleshy, serrated leaves that contain the clear aloe vera gel or ‘juice’.
Aloe vera juice contains around 200 active compounds and over 75 beneficial nutrients, such as:
- Vitamins – aloe vera juice contains the antioxidant vitamins A (beta-carotene), C and E. It also contains a wealth of B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid and choline, and is one of the few plants that contain vitamin B12.
- Minerals – aloe vera juice contains 20 minerals, including calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper and manganese.
- Amino acids – aloe vera juice contains 20 amino acids, including all 8 essential amino acids (essential as your body cannot manufacture these itself and they must therefore be obtained from your diet). Amino acids are the organic compounds that combine to form proteins, which your body uses to break down food, grow, repair body tissue and perform many other important bodily functions.
- Fatty acids – aloe vera contains 4 plant steroids that boast anti-inflammatory, antiseptic or analgesic properties – cholesterol, campesterol, beta-sisosterol and lupeol.
- Enzymes – aloe vera juice contains the enzymes, aliiase, alkaline phosphatase, amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, and peroxidase. Enzymes are proteins that speed up chemical reactions within your cells.
- Plant sugars – aloe vera juice supplies both monosaccharides (simple plant sugars, e.g. glucose and fructose) and polysaccharides (carbohydrates that can help to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, and stabilise blood sugar).
- Hormones – aloe vera juice contains auxins and gibberellins, anti-inflammatory hormones that aid in the healing of wounds.
The 7 sensational health benefits of aloe vera juice
Long prized as a natural remedy for constipation and skin disorders, aloe vera juice is linked to the 7 sensational health benefits listed below.
1. Aloe vera juice aids digestion
Aloe vera juice cleanses and soothes your gut by removing the food residue that can block your digestive tract and prevent the efficient absorption of nutrients, thus demonstrably improving your overall digestion. Aloe vera juice also decreases the amount of unfriendly bacteria within your gut, helping to maintain a healthy intestinal flora and reducing your risk of digestive disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and acid reflux. According to the U.S National Institute of Health, aloe vera juice additionally boasts natural laxative properties that can be used to treat constipation.
2. Aloe vera juice encourages a gentle detox
Aloe vera juice is a gelatinous superfood (similar to organic chia seeds) – the advantage of consuming gelatinous plant foods is that they are able to absorb and ultimately expel toxins from your body. An alkaline forming food, aloe vera can also return your body to a healthy acid/alkaline balance, which is essential for an effective detox.
3. Aloe vera juice helps to improve heart health
Aloe vera juice contains beta-sisterol – a potent plant sterol, which according to studies published in the British Medical Journal, can help to lower your cholesterol levels. Recent research also reveals that aloe vera juice may help to increase the transportation of oxygen in red blood cells. By improving circulation and oxidation of the blood and simultaneously lowering cholesterol levels, the regular consumption of aloe vera juice may even help to lower your risk of heart disease.
4. Aloe vera juice helps to boost immunity
Aloe vera juice contains high levels of antioxidants, including the vitamins A, C & E. Antioxidants seek out and destroy the free radicals that can lead to cell damage, aging and disease. In fact, a study conducted by Istanbul University indicates that aloe gel has antioxidant effects comparable to pharmaceutical drugs in helping to lower blood sugar levels and prevent the onset of diabetes.
The polysaccharides found in aloe vera juice also stimulate macrophage activity – macrophages are white blood cells that form part of your immune system and combat viruses and infection.
5. Aloe vera juice promotes healthy skin
Arguably one of the best-known benefits associated with aloe vera juice is its remarkably healing effect on your skin. Aloe vera juice is both antipruritic (it can help to prevent or relieve itching) and astringent (it can help to reduce bleeding from minor cuts or wounds). It contains the enzyme bradykinase, which reduces inflammation when applied directly to the skin, in addition to the hormones, auxin and gibberellin, which aid in the healing of wounds. Studies suggest that aloe vera juice may be effective in treating minor burns and sunburn, as well as a number of chronic skin complaints, including eczema, psoriasis and acne.
The high concentration of water in aloe vera juice (it actually consists of 99% water), coupled with its skin firming and hydrating antioxidants (beta carotene, vitamin C and E) make it a particularly nourishing moisturiser that can also help to prevent unwanted fine lines and wrinkles.
6. Aloe vera juice helps to relieve stress
Aloe vera juice is a renowned adaptogen – adaptogens have a balancing and regulatory effect on your hormone levels, glands (including the hypothalamus and pituitary), muscles, nerves and circulatory system, and as a result, can help to improve your body’s natural ability to resist illness and cope with stress.
7. Aloe vera juice helps you to lose weight
As you’ve now learnt, enjoying aloe vera juice on a regular basis can help to improve your gut health and promote a natural detox – both key factors in achieving healthy weight loss. Indeed, research repeatedly shows that damage to your digestive tract is one of the main reasons for stubborn weight loss issues. Conversely, a healthy intestinal tract can help to reduce food cravings and speed up weight loss. Detoxing actively kick-starts your metabolism – the process by which your body converts food into energy instead of storing as unwelcome layers of fat.
Enjoying aloe vera juice and all of its many health benefits
Aloe vera juice is incredibly concentrated, so only a small amount is required. Try stirring just two tablespoons of pure, whole leaf aloe vera juice into your favourite smoothies or green juices for optimum results. Alternatively massage a small amount of aloe vera juice directly into dry, irritated or sunburnt skin for instant relief.