Aloe vera is one of the most famous and widely used plants known for its medicinal and other health benefits. It is not only good for the health of the body, but also good for the skin and hair. Also known as hritkumari in Hindi, aloe vera is widely recognized around the world for its relative ease of cultivation. Aloe plants can be found in vegetable gardens and in pots on windowsills and balconies of high-rise buildings because this plant grows easily and quickly. It requires minimal maintenance, and the leaf gel (which is the main edible ingredient) can also be easily extracted and used for a variety of purposes.
Many people use aloe vera and its products only to improve the quality of their skin and hair. Aloe vera juices are widely available in grocery stores and online. But aloe vera can also be used in food when consumed raw and unprocessed. It has a mild herbaceous and almost neutral taste, making it a useful ingredient in your diet. Let's take a look at the health benefits of aloe vera and then look at different ways to add it to our diet.
Aloe Vera Benefits
1. Rich in antioxidants
Aloe vera is said to have a number of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties due to its abundance of plant polyphenols. Aloe vera, both topically and ingested, can improve your skin and hair quality.
2. Promotes digestion
Aloe is said to be great for keeping the digestive system working properly. According to the book Healing Foods, aloe has laxative properties and is great for improving and balancing intestinal flora. This means that the plant increases the levels of good bacteria in the intestines and removes the bad ones from the digestive tract.
3. May help diabetics
Some human and animal studies have shown that aloe vera can help people with type 2 diabetes by increasing insulin sensitivity and may help control blood sugar levels. However, this advantage may require additional research before it can be established as fact.
4. May promote weight loss
Consuming aloe vera can also help a person manage their weight. The gel is known to have detoxifying, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is also known to improve immunity and digestion, which may indirectly aid in weight loss.
How to consume aloe vera
- Juicing. The easiest way to consume aloe vera is by juicing. Cut the aloe leaf into small pieces, remove the top bright green layer of the leaf, and then remove the gel (inside of the leaf). Make sure the thin yellowish latex layer between the sheet and the gel is also removed. Wash off the gel and add it to a food processor along with coconut water or plain water and a little honey to sweeten and mix. You can add your favorite juices, including apple or cucumber juice to the mixture.
- Add the leaves to salads: Besides the gel, aloe vera leaves are generally considered safe to consume. You can wash and chop fresh aloe vera leaves (make sure you remove the prickly ends, separate the flat green leaves from the gel and rinse thoroughly) and mix them together with summer salads. Aloe leaves can add zest to your salads.
- Add gel to salad dressings: you can add aloe vera gel to salad dressings. Due to its slimy texture, it mixes easily with ingredients such as olive oil and vinegar. Aloe vera can be used to make a nutritious salad dressing.
- Freeze it like ice cubes: aloe vera is used to soothe burns. The diluted gel can be poured into an ice cube tray and frozen, then applied to the affected area for immediate relief. These cubes can also be used in smoothies. Just add a few cubes of aloe gel to a blender for smoothies and stir!
When preparing aloe vera for home use, make sure the latex is completely removed, as this is the only part of the plant that can have side effects. It is not recommended to consume aloe vera on a daily basis and it is advisable to speak with a dietitian or nutritional expert before adding aloe vera to your diet.
8 side effects of aloe vera: why everything in excess is bad
Despite the unprecedented benefits of aloe vera gel, it can also have certain side effects that can affect your overall health. Here are some side effects of aloe vera gel that you should know:
- Aloe vera leaves contain latex (milky sap) that comes from under the skin of the plant. Many people are allergic to it and it can cause stomach problems such as irritation, stomach cramps, and low potassium levels. Externally, latex can be safe when used correctly. However, more research is needed.
- Most people can be allergic to aloe vera gel, causing skin allergies, eye redness, skin rashes, irritation and burning.
- Consuming aloe vera juice can lower blood sugar levels. It has a laxative effect, which can increase the likelihood of electrolyte imbalances in diabetics. If you are a diabetic, it is best to consult your doctor before consuming aloe vera juice.
- The laxative effects of aloe vera can lead to dehydration. Laxatives are commonly used to relieve constipation. However, if taken in larger amounts than recommended, they can cause dehydration.
- It is said that pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid consuming aloe vera juice due to its irritating properties. This can stimulate uterine contractions in pregnant women, which can lead to birth complications.
- Aloe vera juice can lower potassium levels in the body, which can also cause irregular heartbeat, weakness, and fatigue. The elderly and sick people are usually not advised to consume it.
- The biologically active substances in aloe vera can interfere with the liver detoxification process, which can cause health complications.
- Stomach discomfort is one of the most common side effects of drinking aloe vera juice. Latex can cause excessive abdominal cramps and pain. Avoid drinking aloe vera juice, especially if you have stomach problems.
Benefits of aloe vera for skin and hair
- Aloe Vera Gel is enriched with many antioxidants like Vitamin A, Beta Carotene and Vitamin E, which are known to take care of your skin by preventing the early signs of skin aging.
- Applying aloe vera gel to the skin can act as a protective layer due to its antioxidant activity. In addition, chilled aloe vera gel applied to burned skin can help provide instant cooling, further healing, and skin renewal.
- The anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera help soothe insect bites and skin rashes. You can apply the gel topically even to small cuts. Most people use it as an after-shave lotion or after-wax gel to keep skin looking fresh and hydrated.
- Aloe Vera acts as a natural hair conditioner; it is the presence of proteolytic enzymes that nourish and strengthen your hair from the roots and make it soft and shiny.
- The ideal pH balance of our scalp is 5.5, and when the balance is imbalanced, it leads to various hair problems. Shampoos generally contain surfactants that are alkaline in nature, so they can change the pH of the scalp. Aloe vera rebalances the moisture and pH balance of the scalp for a smooth texture.
- If your scalp is dry and flaky, aloe vera is your one-stop solution. The moisturizing properties of aloe vera can help unclog pores and remove dead skin cells by allowing moisture to penetrate into the scalp. A good moisturizer will provide less dandruff or dry scalp problems.
While consuming a limited amount of aloe vera juice shouldn't be a concern, it's always a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure these side effects aren't causing problems.