Superfood Sunday – Aloe Vera and a Glowing Green Smoothie Recipe
Detoxifier, skin-healer, natural alkaliser, digestion easer, immune system booster… Yes, Aloe Vera is a true miracle plant and a very worthy recipient for today’s Superfood Sunday post!
Aloe is a succulent plant species and has been used in herbal medicine since the beginning of the first century AD for its healing, soothing and rejuvenating properties. It is said that 6000 year old stone carvings in Egypt contain images of the plant, which they referred to as the “plant of immortality”. Apparently Cleopatra and Nefertiti bathed in aloe juice to retain their youth and beautiful looks.
Different parts of the plant are used for different effects on the body and Aloe Vera has both internal and external applications – versatile indeed! Here are some of the reasons why Aloe is a true superfood:
Calms the tummy and eases digestion
A properly functioning digestive tract is one of the keys and foundations of health. So many of us are living with too much inflammation in the body resulting in diseases, like Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis, which are intrinsically linked to poor digestion. Aloe is your saviour! Aloe is known to soothe and cleanse the digestive tract and help improve digestion. It also helps to decrease the amount of unfriendly bacteria and in our gut keeping your healthy intestinal flora in balance. It has also been shown to be a great remedy for people with irritable bowel syndrome as well as acid reflux.
Aloe Vera is a gelatinous plant food, just like seaweeds and chia seeds. The main benefit to consuming gelatinous plant foods in your diet is that these gels move through the intestinal tract absorbing toxins along the way which then get eliminated through the colon. This will help the proper elimination of waste from your body and help the detoxification of your body.
Alkalizes the body
All foods leave either an alkaline or acidic residue in the bloodstream, depending on whether they contain more alkaline or acidic minerals. Our bodies are designed to maintain a slightly alkaline pH level. However when we eat acidic forming foods more than 20% of the time, it corrodes the bodies tissues and begins to leach alkaline minerals out of those tissues to compensate, resulting in poorer health. Disease cannot manifest in an alkaline environment which is why we should focus on eating alkaline foods 80% of the time. Aloe Vera is an alkaline forming food, helping to balance overly acidic dietary habits, so eat up!
High in vitamins, minerals and amino acids
Aloe Vera contains many vitamins including A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6. It’s also one of the few plants that contains vitamin B12 – which is good, particularly if suffer from anaemia or for vegans who often struggle with getting enough B12 in their diet. Some of the 20 minerals found in Aloe Vera include: calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium, sodium, iron, potassium, copper, manganese. Aloe is also estimated to contain around 18-20 amino acids, with all 8 essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.
Boosts the immune system
The polysaccharides in Aloe Vera juice stimulate macrophages, which are the white blood cells of your immune system that fight against viruses. Aloe is also an immune enhancer because of its high level of antioxidants, which help combat the unstable compounds known as free-radicals, contributing to the aging process.
Heals the skin
We had an Aloe plant growing up and I remember we used it for everything – from rubbing it on sunburns or scars or dry skin. I never understood why it was so sacred – but now I get why! It is a known vulnerary, (meaning it helps heal wounds) and is great for applying topically to burns, abrasions, psoriasis and even to bug bites. It also acts as an analgesic helping to relieve the pain of wounds. Due to Aloe’s high water content (over 99% water) it is also a great way to hydrate, moisturize and rejuvenate the skin, and also increase the elasticity of the skin making it more flexible through collagen and elastin repair.
Now you know all about the healing qualities of Aloe, how can you incorporate it into your diet? I have a shot glass (yes I use a shot glass) of Aloe vera juice almost every day. Sometimes I will have it on its own, and sometimes I will mix it into a green juice or smoothie. Here is one of my favourite alkalizing green smoothie recipes with Aloe!
Aloe Glowing Green Smoothie
1 cup spinach
1 cup butter lettuce
½ pear or apple
¼ lemon juice
30ml aloe vera juice
1 cup water
Mix all ingredients in the blender until combined, pour and drink!