Aloe Vera for Diabetes: Pros and Cons- HealthifyMe

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Aloe vera is a versatile house plant and hardly requires an introduction. Apart from being a natural air purifier, aloe vera is gaining popularity across the globe for its therapeutic properties. For instance, aloe vera is one of the best herbs for diabetes since it helps regulate insulin levels and improve blood sugar levels. And while the thick, clear gel inside the leaves of the aloe vera plant is excellent for topical treatments, drinking aloe vera juice can have its benefits for diabetes, too. Remember, you only need a moderate amount of aloe vera to benefit from it. If you’re already using other diabetes medications, knowing how aloe vera could affect your blood sugar levels is essential. 

Nutritional Profile of Aloe Vera

About 99% of aloe vera is water, and the remaining 1% provides you with active nutrients. Aloe vera contains bioactive compounds with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial activities.

According to USDA, 100 ml of aloe vera contains the following nutrients.

  • Calories: 21 Kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 5.42 g
  • Sodium: 2 mg

According to USDA, 100 g of aloe vera juice drink contains the following nutrients.

  • Calories: 15 Kcal 
  • Carbohydrates: 3.75 g
  • Sodium: 8 mg
  • Calcium: 8 mg
  • Vitamin C: 3.8 mg

Benefits of Aloe vera for Diabetes

Aloe vera is relatively low in sugar compared to other juices and has a medium Glycemic Index score. The GI score shows how much a food item raises your blood glucose levels. A moderate GL value is slower to increase the blood sugar levels than foods with high scores on the glycemic index. However, a diabetes diet typically prefers to include more low-glycemic foods. 

Aloe vera can not cure diabetes. However, a study shows that aloe vera extract effectively prevents diabetes development among people in the prediabetes stage. It can also help manage blood glucose and lipids in diabetic patients. Another study has reported the anti-diabetic effects of Aloe vera extract. In addition, the results show that using aloe vera in the treatment of diabetes had no toxic effects on kidney or liver function. 

Here are the other reasons for using aloe vera in diabetes treatment.

Reduces Blood Glucose Levels

A study finds that long-term dietary administration of 100 g of aloe vera gel provides hypoglycemic properties. That means it has nutrients that help lower your blood glucose levels. In addition, the results find that the hypoglycemic effects are due to certain plant compounds. For example, aloe vera contains mannans, lectins, glucomannan, and anthraquinones. 

Glucomannan is a type of dietary fibre in aloe vera. It dissolves in water and reduces blood sugar levels. As a result, it is popular in Ayurvedic treatment for sugar control. These compounds in aloe vera also induce body detoxification, eliminating excess blood glucose.

Improves Insulin Sensitivity

According to a study, aloe vera can increase your insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial in maintaining blood sugar levels. It stimulates insulin secretion. Hence, show a promising antidiabetic effect for treating type 2 diabetes.

Fast Healing

For people with diabetes, wounds tend to heal more slowly because uncontrolled glucose levels lead to poor circulation and affect the wound healing process. Furthermore, a study suggests that using aloe vera accelerates wound healing. It works by boosting the proliferation and migration of fibroblasts and keratinocytes, which are essential for the healing process.

Regulates Body Weight

A significant portion of diabetic people is obese. It may trigger further complications like heart disease and blood pressure. So weight management is vital. Aloe vera has vitamin B . It helps convert the fat stored in your body into energy. It burns calories and aids in weight loss. Additionally, the potassium content in aloe vera helps regulate the fluid balance in the body. It prevents the build-up of water weight in the body. 

Boosts Immunity

A diabetes individual tends to have compromised immunity. So using aloe vera helps to strengthen your immunity. Aloe vera is a powerhouse of antioxidants and micro-nutrients that neutralise free radical damage in the body. As a result, it helps your body to tackle health disorders. In addition, the immune-boosting polysaccharides in aloe vera help the immune system to function correctly.

Aloe vera has antimicrobial properties which restrict and prevent bacterial, fungal and viral infections. In addition, being a soothing herb, it can lower inflammatory reactions seen in diabetic people. 

Prevents Renal Disease

Diabetic nephropathy is a long term complication of diabetes which impacts the functioning of the kidneys. A study finds that the glucomannan compound in aloe vera helps prevent the advancement of diabetic kidney disease. It significantly decreased uric acid, creatinine, ketone bodies, and protein levels in the urine. Moreover, aloe vera has antioxidants which prevent various renal disorders and infections. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera protect the kidneys from inflammatory conditions like nephritis. 

Other Benefits of Aloe Vera

Apart from being one of the ideal choices for diabetes, aloe vera offers various other health benefits. It contains many active compounds like antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The combined role of these components ensures the following potential health benefits.

Lowers Cholesterol Level

High blood cholesterol is a significant health risk factor. Finding from a study says that aloe vera effectively lowers blood cholesterol levels. The bioactive compounds in aloe vera prevent the fats from depositing along the blood vessels. As a result, it regulates the blood cholesterol level. 

Laxative Effect of Aloe Vera

The laxative properties in aloe vera improve bowel movement and relieve constipation. Research finds that aloe vera contains an anthraquinone glycoside compound that imparts the laxative effect. It also helps reduce the pain and uneasiness of those with inflammatory bowel disease. 

Aloe vera juice keeps your gut flora balanced by maintaining your gut’s ‘good’ bacteria. It’s worth trying for anyone who suffers from digestion problems. Having balanced gut bacteria can improve overall digestion. However, drink aloe vera juice in small portions because, in excess, it could cause diarrhoea.

Detoxification

Aloe vera gel contains the compound acemannan. It enhances the ability of cells to detoxify. Moreover, aloe vera helps to keep you hydrated. Hydration helps to flush out impurities.

Skin Care

A study finds that aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties, treating skin rashes and infections. Moreover, it supports collagen production, reducing the appearance of wrinkles. Furthermore, aloe vera and its compounds retain skin moisture and neutralise the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. As a result, it helps reduce the signs of ageing. In addition, the rich antioxidants in aloe vera help ease skin conditions like dermatitis and psoriasis and reduce the appearance of acne. These properties make aloe vera an essential component in skincare products.

Cancer Prevention

A study states Aloe vera has anti-cancer properties. Around 75 compounds in Aloe Vera help prevent and treat cancer. Moreover, it helps suppress the cancer cells from spreading further to adjacent organs. It mainly works against breast carcinoma, cancer of soft tissues, lung cancers, bladder cancer, ovarian cancer, and oral squamous cell carcinoma. 

Ways to Consume Aloe vera

Aloe vera has a subtle taste. Therefore, you can use its gel as it is or add it to other preparations. You can extract the gel from the leaves. However, ensure to remove the edges and skin. You can directly scoop out the gels and add them to fruit smoothies, juices and drinks. You can also eat raw chunks with salads. The best time for aloe vera consumption is before meals.

You need to be extra careful while using aloe vera because aloe latex can cause health problems. Before using the aloe vera leaf, drain its latex. You can remove the latex by keeping the leaf upright for about 12-15 minutes. If you still find the latex on the bottom part, wipe it off with a tissue or cloth. 

Here are some common ways to eat aloe vera.

Aloe vera juice

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Serves: 1

Ingredients

  • Aloe vera gel (pieces): 1/4 cup
  • Water: 1 cup
  • Lemon juice: 1 tablespoon

Method of Preparation

  • Add aloe vera gel and water into a blender. Blend until the aloe becomes crushed.
  • Strain the mixture into a cup and discard any traces of rind.
  • Add lemon juice and more water as required. 

Aloe vera salad

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients

  • Aloe vera leaf (de-skinned and chopped): 1/2 cup
  • Basil leaves: 1/4 cup
  • Chopped carrot: 1/4 cup
  • Sliced tomatoes: 1 cup
  • Cooked beans of any variety: 1/2 cup
  • Chopped cucumber: 1/2 cup
  • Crushed pepper: 1/2 teaspoon
  • Sliced lettuce: 1/2 cup
  • Salt: a pinch

Instructions

  • Mix all the ingredients well
  • Refrigerate for 10 minutes
  • Serve

Aloe Tea

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2 

Ingredients

  • Water: 2 cups
  • Green tea bag: 1
  • Aloe vera leaf: 1

Method of Preparation

  • Boil water and steep the green tea bag in hot water for 3-4 minutes.
  • Squeeze the aloe vera jelly directly out of an aloe leaf.
  • Mix well and strain. 

Potential Risks of Aloe Vera

Anything in excess quantities is harmful, which applies to aloe vera too. It is undoubtedly a storehouse of nutrients. However, aloe has side effects too. So it is ideal to consult with your doctor before including it in your routine diet. Your doctor can help you prescribe the recommended doses. Moreover, it enables you to avoid any complications, especially if you are on any medications. Here are some potential health concerns from overeating aloe vera: 

Hypoglycemia

Excess use of the Aloe Vera results in hypoglycemia. It is a condition where your blood sugar levels go below average. Hypoglycemia is a harmful scenario resulting in dizziness, fainting and likewise. You are more likely to experience it when you are on anti-diabetic medication.

Aloe vera already has anti-diabetic properties. Along with that, when you are on anti-diabetic medication, the effect may be extreme. Therefore, inform your doctor if you plan to include it in your routine diet. They may help you with a recommended dose.

Allergic Reactions

Aloe vera is mostly a safe plant. Nonetheless, some individuals may be sensitive to it. Specific contents, especially the yellowish layer, may result in allergies. In addition, it causes skin rashes, itching and redness. Moreover, excess use of aloe vera results in abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting. If you notice any such symptoms, reach out to your doctor immediately.

Dehydration

Aloe Vera has laxative properties which help soothe constipation. It also contains potassium which helps fluid balance. However, the excess use results in fluid imbalances, leading to abnormal fluids draining, causing dehydration.

Hypotension or Low Blood pressure

Aloe vera has a good content of potassium. Therefore, it helps regulate your fluid balance and heart rate. Nonetheless, too much aloe vera may interact with circulatory action if you’re on medication for any heart disease. It results in an abnormal heartbeat, fatigue, and variation in blood pressure.

Contractions  in Pregnancy

Aloe vera may cause adverse effects in pregnancy as it stimulates uterine contractions. As a result, it causes bleeding and other complications. Therefore, it is better to consult your doctor before using aloe vera.

Conclusion

Aloe Vera is an attractive houseplant. Beyond its beauty, it has multiple uses and benefits. It helps with weight loss, constipation, regulating cholesterol, and skincare. Moreover, it has an influential role in the treatment of diabetes. It not only controls your blood sugar but the associated symptoms too. 

Aloe vera is an easily accessible plant, and you can consume it in any way that suits your needs. However, you should be cautious. Excess eating may result in adverse effects. A daily dose of 15-50 ml or 3 to 6 teaspoons is suitable for diabetes. It would be best if you also looked for aloe vera juice that is purified, decolourised, and organic.

Frequently Asked Answers (FAQs)

Q. Is aloe vera good for diabetes?

A. Yes, aloe vera is good for diabetes. It helps regulate your blood glucose levels. Moreover, it helps reduce diabetes-associated symptoms and further complications. In addition, people with diabetes can take aloe vera to improve the wound healing process, manage weight, and lower inflammation. 

Q. How long does aloe vera take to lower blood sugar?

A. It depends on your age, overall health conditions, and medications. Moreover, it is dependent on your blood glucose level. However, it is ideal to use only a recommended dose of aloe vera. 

Q. Does aloe vera increase blood sugar?

A. Aloe vera has a medium Glycemic Index. That indicates it does not spike your blood glucose levels. Instead, recommended doses of aloe vera help regulate your blood sugar. 

Q. Is Aloe vera good for kidneys?

A. Yes, it is good for the kidneys. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help prevent any infections. It also regulates the fluid levels in the body. However, overconsumption of aloe vera might do further damage to the kidneys.  

Q. Is there sugar in aloe vera?

A. There is sugar in Aloe vera, making it fall on the medium glycemic index because it contains sugars like glucose, fructose, glucomannans, and polymannose. But some of these help regulate blood sugar. For example, glucomannans help to lower blood sugar levels. 

Q. Can I take aloe vera with Metformin?

A. Aloe vera can interact with Metformin or most anti-diabetic medications. Consult your doctor before taking aloe vera when under medications to prevent any fluctuations in sugar levels and avoid complications. 

Q. What are the side effects of aloe vera?

A. Itching, skin rashes, nausea and vomiting are a few side effects of Aloe vera. In addition, some people experience abdominal pain, diarrhoea and low blood sugar. Moreover, excess use of aloe vera may cause drug interactions. Therefore, it reduces the efficiency of medicines. 

Q. Can we drink Aloe vera?

A. Yes, aloe vera gel is edible. It is a healthy ingredient in juices, smoothies and drinks. Moreover, aloe vera tea is an ideal drink to lower blood sugar levels.  

Q. How much Aloe vera juice should you drink daily?

A. If you wish to consume aloe vera juice for its various benefits, you can have between 15 to 50 ml in a day, i.e. 1-3 tablespoons. 

Q. Who should not drink aloe vera juice?

A. Avoid aloe vera juice if you are sensitive or allergic to it. Moreover, you should refrain from it if you are on any medications. Pregnant and lactating mothers should limit the use of aloe vera.

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