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You may have heard the digestive system described as a window to your state of health.

Having adequate fuel from food is key to allowing your body to thrive.

That includes your immune system (your defence against illness or infection), having clear skin, healthy hair, high energy levels, and generally feeling healthy and comfortable.1

However, there are various factors that can contribute to your bowels and your overall digestive system not working as well as it could.

And aloe vera could potentially play a role in combatting some of those factors.

What does a healthy bowel look like?

Well-functioning bowels vary from person to person.

If, for most of your life, you have had a bowel movement once a day, that is your normal, and you will want to investigate if you suddenly start going once every three days.2

Rather than focusing on frequency (though there are extremes that do indicate an issue), the key to recognising healthy bowels is that you are going to the toilet enough that you can empty your colon and not feel bloated or in pain.

You should not have to strain hard or feel discomfort when you go, either.3

Causes of unhealthy bowels

High stress levels, low amounts of sleep, consuming a lot of processed and high-sugar foods, and taking antibiotics are just some of the things that can damage your gut microbiome and stop it functioning well.4

Some common ways an unhealthy gut or bowel can manifest itself include an upset stomach (gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn), increased sugar cravings due to an imbalance in the amount of good bacteria in your gut, and unhealthy weight changes.

An unhealthy gut can impair your ability to absorb all the nutrients you need, and make it hard for you to regulate blood sugar, as well as potentially causing issues with storing fat.

Gut problems can also lead to constant fatigue, sleep issues, skin irritation, and food intolerances.5

How to improve digestive health

Beyond addressing the causes of these issues, by getting enough sleep or avoiding processed food, for example, there are some other measures you can take for good digestive health.

These include eating a high-fibre diet, consuming probiotics, following a regular eating schedule, and drinking enough water.6

Good sources of fibre include fruits and vegetables like artichokes, apples, pears, dates, figs, prunes, broccoli, peas, and more.

You can also eat chick peas, lentils, high-fibre grains like oats, chia, baked beans, and other types of beans.

Yoghurt with an active culture can help the natural bacteria in your digestive system do what it has to do, and exercising helps the colon move waste along.7

Aloe vera juice benefits

Consuming aloe vera (as a juice, supplement, or in other formats), can also be helpful.

Aloe vera contains enzymes that can help with the breakdown of sugars and fats and that can help your digestion system to keep running smoothly.

It can also assist with decreasing any irritation in the stomach and intestines.8

If you cut open an aloe vera leaf you can see that it is full of a fairly slimy and clear gel. This gel is often used on the skin as a moisturiser and for sunburn.

But the green part of the leaf, and the yellow juice around the gel and lining that leaf, can be used in a juice or as part of a supplement for addressing gut issues like constipation or diarrhoea.

Aloe vera has anti-inflammatory properties which can help reduce gastrointestinal inflammation.9 That is when irritants like germs cause the body to respond.

How to consume aloe vera for healthy digestion

If consuming aloe vera juice, it is important that it is purified, or decolorised.

That process removes any phenolic compounds found in the latex (the yellow juice).10 Usually, activated carbon is used here. Unpurified aloe vera can have unpleasant side effects such as cramping and diarrhoea.11 You can drink up to a cup of aloe vera juice a day. You can choose to drink it straight, or you can mix it in with a smoothie or juice, or add ice or milk to it.12 The recommendation though is 100 to 200 milligrams of aloe juice or 50 milligrams of aloe extract daily, or as needed, for constipation.13 Find out more reasons to start using aloe vera here.

Last updated: 12 November 2020