Aloe Vera for Weight Loss: Benefits and Side Effects
Though it's most commonly used topically to heal burns and promote skin health, it has also been used to treat a variety of other conditions.
In recent years, it has even become a key ingredient in juices, herbal supplements, and diet drinks geared toward weight loss.
This article reviews the benefits and side effects of aloe vera for weight loss, as well as how to use it.
There are two ways in which aloe vera may aid weight loss.
May Boost Metabolism
Some research shows that aloe vera could boost your metabolism, increasing the number of calories you burn throughout the day to promote weight loss.
In one 90-day study, administering dried aloe vera gel to rats on a high fat diet reduced body fat accumulation by increasing the number of calories they burned.
Other animal research has shown that aloe vera could affect the metabolism of fat and sugar in the body while preventing the accumulation of belly fat.
Still, more studies are needed to determine whether aloe vera may offer similar health benefits in humans.
May Support Blood Sugar Control
Aloe vera may help improve blood sugar control, which may help increase weight loss.
In one study, consuming capsules containing 300–500 mg of aloe vera twice daily significantly reduced blood sugar levels in 72 people with prediabetes.
Another study in 136 people found that taking an aloe vera gel complex for 8 weeks reduced body weight and body fat, as well as improved the body's ability to use insulin, a hormone involved in blood sugar control.
Improving blood sugar control can prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels, which could prevent symptoms like increased hunger and cravings.
Aloe vera could help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and supporting better blood sugar control.
Aloe vera intake has been associated with several adverse health effects.
Some of the most common side effects include digestive issues, such as diarrhea and stomach cramps.
While aloe vera can act as a laxative to help promote regularity, excessive use could increase your risk of adverse effects like dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
It's important to note that while its laxative effects may reduce water retention, the resulting loss of water weight is only temporary and not a sustainable weight loss strategy.
What's more, since this succulent may reduce the absorption of certain medications, it's important to consult your healthcare professional before using it if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking any medications.
There is also concern about the cancer-causing effects of aloin, a compound found in non-decolorized, whole leaf aloe extract.
However, most aloin is removed during processing, so it's unclear whether commercial aloe vera products may also be harmful.
Furthermore, it's important to avoid eating aloe vera skin gels and products, as they may contain ingredients and additives that should not be ingested.
Finally, products containing aloe vera latex, a substance found within the leaves of the aloe vera plant, have been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) due to safety concerns.
Aloe vera intake can cause several side effects and may decrease the absorption of certain medications. Unprocessed and unrefined extracts may also contain aloin, which is a carcinogenic compound.
How to Use It
Aloe vera leaves are comprised of three main parts — the skin, latex, and gel.
The gel is safe to consume and can be prepared by cutting the leaf in half and using a spoon or knife to scoop out the gel.
Be sure to wash the gel thoroughly to remove any dirt and latex residue, which can give the gel a bitter taste.
Try adding the gel into smoothies, shakes, salsas, and soups to bolster the health benefits of your favorite recipes.
You can also eat the skin of the aloe leaf by adding it to salads and stir-fries.
After slicing and washing the skin, you may also opt to soak the leaves for 10–30 minutes before adding them to your recipes to help soften them up.
The gel and leaves of the aloe vera plant can be consumed in a variety of recipes, including smoothies, soups, salsas, salads, and stir-fries. Always be sure to remove the latex layer.
The Bottom Line
Aloe vera is commonly found in weight loss products, including herbal supplements, juices, and diet drinks.
It may help promote weight loss by boosting your metabolism and improving your blood sugar control.
However, it may also be associated with several adverse effects and should be used in moderation as part of a healthy diet.
If you decide to give aloe vera products a try, be sure to purchase them from a reputable supplier.
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By Jason Farley
COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives, and it is poised to completely disrupt the holiday season. As people make holiday plans and think about ways to reduce the risks to their loved ones, a strategy is essential.
Are masks really necessary at family gatherings?<p>If you're gathering with friends and family who don't live in your home, yes. Just because you're with people you know doesn't mean you're safe from the coronavirus. Infection rates are <a href="https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/new-cases-50-states" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">higher now than they have ever been</a> in the U.S., and <a href="https://youtu.be/ehdgceGzQxs" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">small gatherings have been a source</a> of viral spread. All it takes is one infected person who doesn't know they have the coronavirus to infect others.</p><p>Remember, people can be <a href="https://medical.mit.edu/covid-19-updates/2020/07/how-long-symptom-onset-person-contagious" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">contagious two to three days</a> before symptoms show – that's one thing that makes this virus so hard to stop. And it's why, even if you feel fine, you should wear a mask.</p><p>The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now estimates that when both people are wearing masks, the <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank">likelihood of infection is low</a>.</p>
Who am I protecting when I wear a mask?<p>In a word: everyone. The coronavirus <a href="https://theconversation.com/aerosols-are-a-bigger-coronavirus-threat-than-who-guidelines-suggest-heres-what-you-need-to-know-142233" target="_blank">spreads through respiratory droplets</a> that you send out into the air when you talk, sing or even just breathe. The tiniest of these droplets can float on air currents for long periods.</p><p>Face masks stop many of those droplets, reducing the amount of virus in the air. That lowers your chances of getting infected, and it also lowers the chances that you'll infect someone else.</p><p><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank">Studies of people who had prolonged exposure</a> to others with COVID-19 have demonstrated how masks can reduce the chance of the virus spreading. In general, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/masking-science-sars-cov2.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">well-fitted cloth masks</a> made up of multiple layers can stop most large droplets and at least half of the tiny ones. Plastic <a href="https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.10.05.20207241" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">face shields</a> alone are far less effective. <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/08/13/cdc-mask-guidance-masks-valves/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Face masks with valves or vents</a> might be good for construction work, but they don't stop the wearer from breathing out virus into the air.</p>
Can I reuse a mask and when should I replace it?<p>Reusable masks should be kept clean and dry. We're moving into cold and flu season, and noses get drippy. A rule of thumb: Anytime a mask is wet to the point that you can discern the wetness, it's time for a new one if it's disposable, or it's time to clean your reusable mask.</p><p>Wetness allows viruses to more easily move through paper or fabric because it allows the threads to move and may reduce the electrostatic charge in the masks that add extra protection with some fabrics.</p><p>In general, you can use a mask that stays clean and dry for about a week before you need to wash or discard it.</p>
How should I clean a cloth mask?<p>Washing your mask is like washing your clothes. You know when it is time.</p><p>In general, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html" target="_blank">cleaning your mask weekly</a> should be sufficient. If odors develop before then, it's a good idea to wash it sooner. Odor generally means bacterial buildup.</p><p>Cleaning your mask by hand with soap and water is your best option. Using a general detergent on a gentle cycle in the washing machine is also fine, but that may increase the risk of damage, depending on the quality of the material. COVID-19 is not a hardy virus. Any soap or detergent should work fine. There's no need for special chemicals, bleach or harsh soaps.</p><p>Be careful to remove any inserts before washing. Inserted filters are generally not washable.</p><p>Air drying masks works best. Remember, masks should be completely dry before use. So be sure to have a replacement mask handy while the one you just washed dries.</p><p>Sunlight is always a great source of heat to dry your mask. Also, sunlight has ultraviolet radiation, which has been shown to <a href="http://doi.org/10.1111/php.13293" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">eliminate coronavirus</a> and is also known to have antibacterial properties.</p>
Can I wear the mask below my nose?<p>Wearing your mask below your nose is, frankly, ridiculous.</p><p>Think about it. If you are breathing through your nose and only covering your mouth, you are effectively eliminating the point of the mask. Properly wearing a mask requires covering both your nose and mouth at all times.</p><p>Studies show that wearing a proper cloth mask or surgical mask while exercising <a href="http://doi.org/10.1513/AnnalsATS.202008-990CME" target="_blank">doesn't affect the flow of oxygen</a> or carbon dioxide in any detectable way. So, unless you have serious heart and lung problems, that isn't an excuse.</p>
How do I safely remove my mask if I’m going to eat or drink?<p>When you <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-wash-cloth-face-coverings.html" target="_blank">take your mask off</a>, remove it carefully by the straps without touching anything else and put it somewhere safe, like wrapped in paper in a purse, bag or pocket. Then wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. When you put it back on, wash your hands again.</p>
So, how can I have a safe holiday gathering?<p>The safest way to celebrate this year is to do so with members only within your household. The <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/holidays.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">CDC is now stressing that point</a>, as well. If you do celebrate with friends and relatives from outside your household, you need an action plan to reduce the risk of exposure.</p><p>Here are five recommendations:</p><ul><li>Limit the number of people – fewer people means fewer opportunities for exposure, and you'll have more room to spread out.</li><li>Require masks when not eating or drinking.</li><li>Use physical distancing when eating. Try to seat people <a href="https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3223" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least 6 feet apart</a>. Eat outside if you can.</li><li>Consider being tested for COVID-19 before traveling or gathering. It's not a guarantee, but it can help flag illnesses. Remember to self-isolate between the test and the event.</li><li>Be prepared to self-isolate for 14 days after traveling or participating in any event that involves people from outside your home.</li></ul><p>[<em>Research into coronavirus and other news from science</em> <a href="https://theconversation.com/us/newsletters/science-editors-picks-71/?utm_source=TCUS&utm_medium=inline-link&utm_campaign=newsletter-text&utm_content=science-corona-research" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Subscribe to The Conversation's new science newsletter</a>.]</p><p><em>The map has been updated with New Hampshire announcing a mask mandate effective Nov. 20.</em></p><p><em>Jason Farley is a professor, infectious disease-trained epidemiologist and nurse practitioner at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.<br></em></p><p><em>Disclosure statement: Jason Farley, PhD, MPH, ANP-BC, FAAN receives funding from the National Institutes of Health on the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for COVID-19 and Becton Dickinson for studies on SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics.</em></p><p><em>Reposted with permission from <a href="https://theconversation.com/why-face-masks-belong-at-your-thanksgiving-gathering-7-things-you-need-to-know-about-wearing-them-150130" target="_blank">The Conversation</a>. </em></p>
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Not all industries are equal. ourworldindata.org