We’re calling it. This year’s most popular beauty booster isn’t going to be some delicate powder made of the ground petals of an incredibly rare flower that only grows on the shady side of a specific cliff in South America. The secret to glowing, movie star–esque skin? A glass of aloe vera juice.
Yes, we’re talking about the same stuff you use to cool down sun-parched skin—kind of. Aloe vera gel might be your skin’s annual summer fling, but drinking aloe juice year-round works wonders for your digestive system, keeps inflammation at bay, and might even help reduce signs of aging. Aloe leaf juice is a little different than what’s in the tube in your medicine cabinet, and labeled as food grade (although it probably won’t hurt you, don’t go drinking straight out of that tube in your medicine cabinet).
Beauty benefits of aloe
So here’s the kind of crazy thing—you know how when you spread aloe all over your skin it feels more moisturized and less inflamed? That’s basically the same thing that happens when you drink aloe juice—and then some. First, the juice has tons of vitamins A, C, and E, which are all potent antioxidants; studies suggest that they actually protect skin from UV light damage. And two hormones found in aloe, auxins and gibberellins, help heal wounds and fight inflammation—in case you missed it, eliminating excess inflammation is one of the best ways to combat premature aging.
And then there are amino acids, which help skin retain its elasticity to reduce dryness and wrinkles, and polysaccharides, which add extra hydrating power by helping moisture bind to skin cells for extra hydration.
Health benefits of aloe
Many people report digestive benefits from drinking aloe juice—some naturopathic practitioners recommend it to help alleviate symptoms of IBS and ulcerative colitis because of its anti-inflammatory nature. More research is needed to confirm whether science backs this up, but if it proves to be true then aloe might prove to be beneficial for treating other types of digestive inflammation like Celiac disease, gastroenteritis, or even regular heartburn.
It can also help keep you regular, because aloe juice has diuretic and laxative-like properties. In small doses, it’s extremely beneficial to colon health when ingested on a regular basis to keep things moving. But in large amounts (as in eight undiluted ounces) it can send your running to the bathroom—so just don’t go overboard.
We’d be remiss, though, if we didn’t mention a study that found evidence of tumor growth in the large intestines of mice that had ingested highly concentrated aloe extract over the long-term. The thing is, the study involved two years of consistent exposure to insanely high levels of aloe—nothing close to what you’d find in commercial aloe vera juice. Ultimately the aloe juice in it’s natural form is not carcinogenic to humans.
How to use aloe juice
Its slightly sour taste can be a little off-putting at first, but when blended into other fresh juices or smoothies, aloe juice is undetectable. Avoid artificially flavored aloe drinks, which are loaded with excess sugar—which means they could actually inflame your skin and system rather than calming it! Instead look for certified organic, whole leaf aloe vera juice. Try this beauty superfood in our aloe detox drink recipe, or take a shot of it every morning to keep digestion smooth and skin glowing.
Photo credit: Alicia Cho