Say aloe to health!
The pandemic-induced lockdown period saw many revisit age-old health practices and ayurvedic herbs to strengthen their immune system, which continues to remain at the forefront in our battle against Covid-19. Moreover, with at-home wellness gaining traction, DIY face packs and hair masks are also finding more prominence as a go-to fix for a variety of hair and skin-related woes. And, a very common ingredient in most of these home remedies is aloe vera.
Known as kathali in the vast world of Ayurveda, leaves of the aloe plant have three parts: an odourless and clear inner gel, a bitter yellowish sap known as latex, and a thick outer layer or rind. While the gel portion has been hailed by experts as a wonder cure for sun burn, skin and hair woes, there is so much more to this plant, in terms of overall health and well-being.
“Aloe vera is a magical plant and one of the superfoods that can help improve your overall health. It has prebiotic compounds that help feed healthy bacteria in the gut and helps in the optimal functioning of the digestive system. Studies have shown that aloe vera is good for digestion and a very potent plant for relief from indigestion. It has vitamins, minerals, amino acids, salicylic acids and anti-inflammatory characteristics that helps in providing relief from diarrhoea, constipation, bloating, abdominal pain and cramps,” says dietician Sushma PS.
What’s more? Aloe vera powder is a saviour when it comes to dental issues. “Using aloe vera powder for brushing your teeth can help cure gum diseases, prevent plaque buildup and treat any kind of bruise or infection in the gums,” says dietician Garima Goyal.
Agrees nutritionist and fitness expert, Manisha Chopra. She says, “Aloe vera has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties which help to treat and relieve inflammation in gums or any infection due to gum disease or any other oral issue. The antioxidants present in aloe vera fight free radicals that may cause cell damage. Aloe vera also has cooling effects and healing properties which cure bruises on the gums faster.”
Here are a few more lesser-known advantages of aloe vera:
Keeps sugar levels, cholesterol in check: Aloe may help manage diabetes by improving glucose as well as insulin levels, due to the presence of phytochemicals such as lecithin. It can also lower the level of bad cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and prevent artery blockage. It can be useful in managing type 2 diabetes.
Curbs constipation: Aloe vera has a gentle laxative effect and can relieve constipation, as anthraquinones in it speed up bowel movement. Aloe vera can also help reduce uncomfortable symptoms of heartburn or acid reflux, which occurs when stomach acid splashes up into the oesophagus and causes burning in the chest.
Speeds up healing of wounds, infections: Aloe vera, when applied on wounds, promotes faster healing by increasing blood circulation to the affected area. Consuming two spoons of aloe vera juice a day is believed to help reduce the symptoms of candidiasis (a fungal infection very common in women) and prevent overgrowth, which can affect the whole body.
Locks freshness of fruits, veggies: Coating fruits and vegetables with aloe vera gel will help keep them fresh for longer. It also prevents the growth of harmful bacteria on these food items.
Inputs from clinical dietician Lakshita Jain
Author tweets @srinidhi_gk