Aloe is a lifesaver when a long day in the sun has transformed you into a lobster, so it’s no wonder it’s become such a popular ingredient in all sorts of soothing skin-care products. But if you stop into your go-to health store, you’ll most likely see aloe in another, unexpected place: the beverage aisle.
All the cool kids are chugging down aloe juice lately, for both its taste and numerous health benefits. Using aloe orally is hardly new, however—as far back as 3,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians were slurping down the plant’s sap to ease tummy issues.
The aloe juice you see on the shelf today is typically made from the two inner layers of the aloe plant: the mucus-y, gold latex that lines the insides of the leaves and the gel that fills the middle. Varieties labeled ‘whole-leaf,’ though, are made by blending and straining the entire aloe leaf to maximize the nutrient content of the juice.
Intrigued? Read on for four reasons why aloe could make a great addition to your daily diet.
1. Aloe Is Ultra-Hydrating
Aloe is 98 percent water, so it should come as no surprise that it provides serious hydration benefits. “Because aloe is so water-dense, it’s an ideal way to prevent dehydration,” says holistic nutritionist Miriam Amselem. If you’re exercising hard or spending time outside, aloe juice makes a great companion.
2. Aloe Supports Your Gut
The aloe plant has long been used to support a healthy digestive system, says Lahana Vigliano, holistic nutritionist and owner of Thrival Nutrition. In fact, research published in the Journal of Research in Medicinal Sciences found that drinking aloe juice twice daily for eight weeks soothed discomfort in participants with GI issues.
Aloe latex also contains compounds called aloe-emodins, which have a stimulating effect and can help your gut get moving and grooving—especially when you’re feeling a little backed up. Because of aloe-emodin’s stimulating effect, though, guzzling too much aloe juice can leave you crampy and, well, quite the opposite of backed up, warns Valentina Olivadese, holistic health nutritionist at Valiant Nutrition. It can also reduce the absorption of drugs and medications, so if you’re on any prescriptions or taking antibiotics, check with your doc before sipping.
3. Aloe Helps You Glow From The Inside Out
Not only is putting aloe on your skin great—but drinking it can help your epidermis flourish, too. That’s because aloe contains vitamins A and C—two powerhouse skin ingredients. (Seriously, they’re in half the skin serums, oils, and creams you’ll find in the skin-care aisle.)
4. Aloe Offers Antioxidant Power
In addition to vitamins A and C, aloe contains a few other antioxidants, including vitamin E and a compound called barbaloin. These nutrients help reduce oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which damages cell membranes and DNA, and can play a role in the development of autoimmune, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative issues.
So not only do the vitamins and compounds in aloe contribute to a strong, glowing complexion, but they also support the integrity and resilience of your cells—and that’s all-around good news for your health.
How To Drink Aloe For Health
Ready to sip on some aloe juice? Before gulping down a bottle, check the ingredient label and make sure to pick a brand without added sugar, molasses, or high-fructose corn syrup, recommends Anselem.
From there, start with just an eight-ounce serving of juice per day to gauge how your tummy reacts—and be sure to give it time to adjust, she says. After a few days of successful sipping, you can gradually up your aloe intake to three or four eight-ounce glasses a day (any more and you might experience some stomach upset).
Want to hop on the aloe juice train? Pin this infographic!