Aloe Vera And Dieting
For several years now, one particular weight loss drink has been creating a buzz in weight loss circles. Aloe vera juice is now being dubbed as a miracle weight loss drink. And we cannot help but shake our heads for the term “miracle” that is attributed to the drink. We don’t want to sound pessimistic but we would like to provide our readers with clear solid evidence regarding these so-called weight loss supplements. It’s logical actually. If indeed these are miracle diet preparations and there have been thousands of them, then how come we still have a pandemic of obesity? How come there are still millions of men and women who are obese despite the proliferation of such weight loss substances?
We’re not saying aloe vera juice is not effective. Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t. And while there have been studies made to suggest that it may help in the reduction of weight, the keyword is “may”. Additionally, these studies have serious research design flaws that any conclusions drawn from them can be considered speculative at best.
The only tested and highly proven method of losing weight is:
- By modifying your food intake to minimize your consumption of high-calorie foods especially fats and carbohydrates and
- By increasing your body’s metabolic rate, the natural way, by increasing the intensity and/or frequency of your physical activity.
These are the only 2 well-tested and highly proven methods of losing weight. Sure, you may say taking appetite suppressants like phentermine and fenfluramine can help you lose weight, but at what cost to your well-being?
Aloe vera juice, as well as other weight loss preparations, can help enhance the effects or benefits of these two methods (diet + exercise) and not the other way around. That is why they are called supplements in the first place because they are supposed to enhance the effects of other systems. On their own, the effects can be minimal at best or even detrimental in worst cases. Weight loss pills and other supplements are effective at supporting fat loss, but as with anything, this does need to be combined with diet and exercise.
Here, we’ll be examining why people are saying aloe vera juice is good for weight loss and we’ll give you our take on this product to help you become better informed.
What is Aloe Vera?
When we say “aloe vera” we are pretty sure you are not going to think that it is for weight loss. Instead, you will be thinking more about the plant that looks like a cross between an oversized leaf and an undersized cactus. And when it comes to its health benefits, we all know that it’s good for stimulating hair growth as well as for managing first- and second- degree burns. But it clearly has never been indicated for weight loss. Well, until now.
Aloe vera is a species of succulent plants that are typically found in tropical regions all over the world. These are often cultivated extensively for agricultural, cosmetic, and even medicinal purposes. It is often found in juices, sunburn ointments, ointments for minor burn injuries, and in skin lotions. It should be understood that, while there are many uses and that there have been clinical studies made to assess the clinical efficacy of aloe vera, many of these have serious design flaws such that a great majority of the medical and scientific community find it hard to accept the results of these studies as valid truths. Why? Well, some studies show aloe vera is effective while there are also those that contradict such studies. So which one are you going to believe in?
Additionally, it is worthy to point out that these studies utilized fresh aloe vera extracts as well as supplements in their testing and evaluation, not aloe vera juice. Moreover, the manner in which the subjects of these studies were given aloe vera thrive in controlled conditions which may not exist in the real world. Hence, nobody actually knows how aloe vera will really work in real-life users.
Technically, the clinical evidence that help support the beneficial effects of aloe vera include the following:
- Nutrient-dense and full of phytosterols
- Antioxidant and antibacterial
- Hastens repair and healing of burn injuries
- Reduction of dental plaque
- Management of canker sores or mouth ulcers
- Relives constipation
- Prevention of wrinkles and improvement of skin health
- Reduction of blood sugar levels
As we have already explained, many of the studies that support these “benefits” have serious design flaws. Nevertheless, can you see anything that resembles like weight loss to you?
What Makes Aloe Vera Good for Weight Loss?
Based on what we have described above, there are a variety of mechanisms that supposedly make aloe vera good for weight loss.
- Decreases body fat – The phytosterols contained in aloe vera are believed to aid in the reduction of abdominal fat as well as in the improvement of overall body composition. Unfortunately, there are no indications as to whether the same effects can be observed on dietary fat as well as on subcutaneous fat.
There are 2 studies that are frequently cited to help support this particular weight loss mechanism. One study was performed on laboratory rats where the group of rodents that received aloe vera showed a reduction in the amounts of their abdominal or visceral fat. A 2013 study that involved prediabetic individuals and diabetic individuals and who were given aloe vera for 8 weeks showed that these individuals lost more body fat and body weight compare to those who received only placebo.
While these are promising, it should be understood that animal studies can never be replicated in human subjects. The anatomy and physiology of laboratory rats are significantly different to our own anatomy and physiology. Hence, it will be foolish to expect that the effects seen in animals should also be expected among humans without undergoing human clinical trials. This is the aspect of pharmaceutical development where makers of supplements severely lack. Only qualified therapeutic agents are given the recognition to conduct human trials. And even then, the test requirements are so strict so as to ensure none of the individual rights of patients are violated.
While the 2013 study was conducted on humans, the test period was so short while the number of test participants was also small. It is not even enough to warrant any statistical representation of a state in the United States, let alone the whole world. In order for such studies to lend credibility, it is a must that the study be conducted over an extended period of time and including a representative sample of the population being investigated. These are very basic of any research which, unfortunately, the said study grossly lacks. It is for this reason that many members in the medical and scientific community question the veracity of such claims.
- Reduces blood glucose – The phytosterols present in aloe vera are also believed to provide sufficient control of blood glucose especially among diabetics and pre-diabetic patients. Controlling glucose metabolism has been shown to improve insulin resistance which can help in the reduction of weight.
The study supporting this was the same study cited above wherein diabetics or prediabetics were randomly assigned to receive either an aloe vera preparation or a placebo. The effects did show moderate reductions in glucose levels. Again, design flaws severely restricts the clinical implications of these studies.
- Cleanses the body – This is perhaps one of the most celebrated effects of aloe vera. It is believed that it has a very powerful laxative effect thanks to the presence of aloin which is believed to stimulate the increased peristaltic activity of the large intestines. This is the basis for the use of aloe vera as a detox agent as it is believed it can help get rid of toxins and other unwanted substances from the body.
Laxatives can lead to weight loss but with severe metabolic consequences. When gastric and colonic contents are flushed out of the body bypassing the normal physiologic processes, fluids and electrolytes can be lost. This can lead to muscle weakness, numbness, irregular heartbeat, seizures, paralysis, and even heart attacks. While it is possible that it may not lead to these conditions, chronic use of laxatives can dampen the normal physiology of bowel movement. This leads to loss of normal bowel function making the person heavily dependent on these substances.
- Boosts metabolism – The phytosterols in aloe vera are presumed to increase the body’s metabolic rate through the stimulation of the body’s inherent neurohormonal receptors. An increase in sympathetic nervous system stimulation can help facilitate the mobilization and oxidation of stored fat as well as glycogen. Regrettably, there are no scientific evidence that shows the exact mechanism upon which aloe vera can bring about an increase in metabolic rates.
Is it Safe?
Aloe vera juice should be safe to consume in moderate amounts. However, because of its laxative effects, then you may see increased frequency of going to the rest room. Additionally, because of its supposed stimulant effects, it is possible to have irregular heart rate, agitation, restlessness, and some other physiologic effects.
If you want to find out how to properly prepare Aloe Vera juice, check out this video with a cool recipe…
The Bottom Line
Aloe vera may help with weight loss but it should always be made as part of a sensible weight loss program that includes diet and exercise. Unless the aloe vera juice product has been thoroughly tested and clinically proven to produce weight loss effects, including it as a supplement, not as a treatment, is the only proven way to ensure success.