- 1 What is good health?
What is good health?
Good health is not only about being free from illness, it’s about being well overall. It’s about feeling good mentally, physically and spiritually. Staying healthy can be difficult in a modern world where processed foods, chemical products and stress are prominent in our lives. We need to be conscious of the choices we make about our health, and prevention is better than cure. We shouldn’t just think we can pop a pill or take medicines if we are ill. We should take adequate measures to stay well and take care of ourselves properly.
Good health might mean something different to each and every one of us, but there are a few things that we would all agree will keep our bodies and minds healthy and happy; eating well, taking plenty of exercise and managing stress in our lives.
There is a strong relationship between the choices we make in our lives and the state of our health.
Bad health habits
We are all guilty of making unhealthy choices at times, but equally, there are things which impact on our health which are out of our control. Some of these bad health habits are well known, but some of them we might do without necessarily thinking about it.
Smoking is a well known cause of serious illness, never mind it being a cause of general ill health and seriously antisocial.
Drinking too much alcohol damages brain cells and the body’s tissues. Alcohol is a toxin and is basically empty calories and sugars. It can’t be metabolised by the body, so it is stored as fat, usually around the midsection.
Not getting our full quota of sleep is a common problem these days. The 24/7 culture, coupled with the heavy use of technology robs us of time when we could be resting and regenerating.
Drug use, prescription or otherwise, burdens the liver and is toxic to the body. If you frequently have to use over the counter medications for headaches or indigestion, do some digging around to find what the underlying problem could be. The chances are, it’s something in your lifestyle which needs fixing.
Being overweight is a health no-no. You will be more prone to illnesses like diabetes, cancer and heart disease and you will experience more orthopaedic issues. Weighing 20% more than your ideal body weight has been proven to shorten life significantly.
Eating processed junk foods, full of salt, fat and sugar does huge damage to health. The human body wasn’t designed to live off these foods, yet so many people do and end up overweight, but actually malnourished, as processed foods are void of any nutritional value.
Stress is a huge problem in the modern world, we work hard, play hard and neglect the effects it has on our mental and physical health, until we break down and are forced by illness or injury to take time out.
Get back to nature for good health
So the modern world and its hectic pace, processed food and chemicals adversely affects our health. But what can we do about it? We can go back to living more naturally, eating more natural foods and using products derived from natural sources. A lot of people have already caught onto the idea that natural is better, and there is an abundance of products readily available, as companies try to satisfy today’s consumers, who are generally much more conscious and aware, and have more information at their disposal.
If we eat foods which are as close to their natural state as possible, our body gets all of the nutrients it needs. So we should be eating whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables,and aim to buy organic where possible.
We should use natural products on our skin. The skin absorbs everything that we put onto it, so chemicals and preservatives are absorbed into our tissues, and the long term effects of this are unknown. But if we use lotions and creams which are made from natural plant and herb extracts, there are no adverse effects on health. Products are gentle and work with our bodies to enhance natural hair and skin health.
We should try to use more natural cleaning products where possible. Some of the best cleaners around are natural. Think white wine vinegar and lemon juice. Chemical cleaning products can be quite hazardous to health. They contain nasties like ammonia, chlorine and detergents which are toxic to the human body.
Natural living is the best thing we can do for our health. Health is not just about avoiding illness, it’s about achieving wellness, in all aspects of our life.
Aloe, the new wellness champion
The aloe plant has a cactus-like appearance and grows in hot, dry climates. It flourishes in arid places such as Arizona in the U.S. The aloe plant produces gel and latex which are used for medicinal reasons. Aloe gel is widely sold in health stores for a variety of reasons. It is a clear, jelly-like substance which is found inside of the aloe leaves. Aloe latex runs throughout the inside of the plant and is yellow.
Medicinal aloe is usually taken by mouth or applied to the skin. Aloe gel taken by mouth is indicated for weight loss, diabetes, bowel conditions, asthma and inflammation or itching of the skin.
Aloe latex can be taken by mouth to combat constipation, colds and joint inflammation.
Topical application of the gel to the skin can treat acne, rash, wounds and dandruff. It is also very effective for sunburnt skin and it repels insects, so you might see a lot of aloe-based products when you are on holiday.
What about Aloe vera juice?
The juice from the aloe plant contains the leaf pulp which is full of nutrients and natural fibre. Aloe vera contains over 200 nutrients, including B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, folate) and vitamins A, C, and E. It contains 20 minerals, including zinc, chromium, selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium and copper. Aloe vera also contains all of the essential amino acids that the body needs.
There is also a considerable fatty acid and antioxidant content in Aloe.
Aloe is probably most well known for the benefits it has on the skin, but did you know that drinking the juice is a great way to cleanse and repair your body from the inside? Here are some fantastic benefits of drinking a regular glass of aloe juice:
It’s great for digestion
Aloe vera juice contains compounds which soothe the smooth lining of the digestive system. A prominent review found that aloe vera juice reduces irritation of the gut and helps stomach ulcers heal. It was also shown to reduce inflammation in patients with other inflammatory bowel disorders such as IBS, colitis and crohn’s disease. The juice can also promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, which is essential for digestive health.
It increases immunity
The Journal of Environmental Science and Health found that aloe vera has antibacterial and antiviral properties. This kills nasty bugs invading the body and helps get rid of other toxins. A healthier immune system means we are much more able to fight off illness, and that the effects of some autoimmune conditions won’t affect sufferers so severely, because the immune system won’t have so many other things to deal with.
It keeps your heart healthy
Drinking aloe vera juice has been shown to improve circulation and reduce fatty deposits in the arteries. This is an important finding for people who have high cholesterol, which is a known risk factor for coronary heart disease.
Aloe juice recipes
So drinking aloe juice reduces inflammation and gets rid of a lot of the toxins that your body can do without, so that it functions as well as it can. Try these delicious recipes for yourself, they are quick and easy, all you have to do is blend the ingredients together.
Recipe 1 – Virgin Aloe Vera Juice
The best way to get the health benefits is to drink pure aloe vera juice.
How to make it:
Take a few aloe leaves and cut them into pieces, a few centimetres long. Boil them in a pan for a few minutes.
Leave the mixture to cool, take out the leaves and drink the liquid.
Admittedly, the pure juice is an acquired taste, so the next recipe adds a few more ingredients for a more pleasant taste.
Recipe 2 – Light Lemon Juice
2 tbsp Aloe vera pulp
How to make it:
Blend the apple and the cucumber together, add the lemon juice
Cut an aloe vera leaf open, scoop out 2 tbsp of the pulp and blend with the other ingredients until you get a smooth drink.
Recipe 3 – Healthy Boost
2 Green apples
1 Orange, peeled
1 tbsp of aloe vera pulp
How to make it:
Cut the apples, carrots and orange into small chunks
Blend them into a juice, then add the aloe vera
Recipe 4 – Tropical Aloe juice
For something a little more exotic, try making this one.
1-2 cup Fresh pineapple
1 Green apple
1 tbsp Aloe vera pulp
A few tbsp of coconut milk (optional)
How to make it:
Blend all of the ingredients together, then add the aloe pulp. The coconut milk adds a wonderful taste plus it increases the nutrient quota even more.
What does the research say?
Aloe is a very versatile plant. Research has been done for over a decade on its uses and benefits. Over 100 studies have discovered some surprising benefits of using the derivatives of the humble plant.
Studies into skin inflammation:
Use of aloe on burns
Researchers from Pakistan’s tested 50 patients with burns. The patients were treated with either aloe vera or 1% silver sulfadiazine cream. The research discovered that the patients treated with aloe vera reported more rapid relief from pain, and their burns healed faster.
Another study from Iran found that treating 30 burns patients with Aloe sped up healing when compared to conventional burns treatment.
Use of aloe on sunburn
German researchers studied 40 adults and found that topical aloe vera application to the skin prevented sunburn. They also tested several other herbs, but Aloe was the only ingredient which demonstrated significant results.
Another German study from 2008 found that a gel containing 97% aloe vera reduced skin inflammation from sun exposure. It performed better than a medicated hydrocortisone cream. However, a Thai university study highlighted that aloe does not offer any sun protection so it should be used as an aftersun product or in conjunction with other sun protection products.
Use of aloe for nappy rash
Researchers in Iran tested 66 infants and found that aloe vera was useful for treating nappy rash. The aloe vera reduced redness, itching and irritation.
Use of aloe for treating psoriasis
Researchers in Thailand treated psoriasis sufferers with aloe gel or a conventional treatment for 8 weeks. Those treated with aloe gel reported much less irritation of the skin and reduced flare ups than those who used the conventional treatment.
Uses for dry skin
Countless studies have highlighted the efficacy of aloe in treating dry, irritated and cracked skin. Some studies have noted a skin plumping and wrinkle reducing effect.
Aloe as an acne treatment
Research has demonstrated that applying an aloe gel in the morning and evening, as well as prescription acne products, improves acne by about 35% across teenagers and adults.
Studies into gut inflammation
Aloe vera and IBS
A 2006 UK study gave either aloe vera or a placebo for one month to 58 IBS sufferers. Of those taking the aloe vera, 35% had a significant improvement in symptoms, while only 22% of the placebo group noted improvements.
Aloe vera and Ulcerative Colitis
A 2004 UK study treated 44 patients with ulcerative colitis with either aloe vera gel or a placebo. These were taken twice per day for a month. Of 30 patients treated with the Aloe vera, 30% experienced no symptoms at all, 37% experienced an improvement in their condition and 47% experienced slightly reduced symptoms. Among the placebo group, the same results were 7%, 7% and 14% respectively.
Aloe vera and weight loss studies
Research from South Korea showed that taking 147 mg of aloe gel twice per day for 8 weeks reduced body weight and total body fat in overweight or obese people with diabetes.
Studies into diabetes
Aloe vera and Pre-diabetes
A prominent study was conducted 45 adults with pre-diabetes two different aloe extracts or a placebo for eight weeks. One extract significantly reduced ‘bad’ cholesterol and glucose in the blood. The other aloe extract significantly reduced fasting glucose and insulin levels.
Studies into diabetics with high cholesterol
Researchers from Iran studied 60 patients with diabetes and high cholesterol. They gave half of the patients 300 mg of Aloe three times per day for a year.
At the end of the study, the patients given the aloe had much lower fasting glucose levels, lower total cholesterol and lower levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol.
Aloe vera is a nutritional powerhouse and a medicinal wonder, with many uses and applications for health. It is one of many plants whose extracts work wonders for our wellbeing, inside and out, and as is usual, science has backed this up. The research mentioned in this article is only the tip of the iceberg.
To maintain good health, we must move to living more naturally by eating whole foods, using natural products on our skin, hair and in our homes and avoiding over-reliance chemicals, which damage our health and the environment.
These natural products we have only just ‘discovered’ have been used for centuries as medicines and other health products, and they have been around since the beginning of time.
We don’t need to damage our health and the natural world in our quest for beauty, or a clean home. We have everything we need existing naturally, right here in our world. Nature works best when it’s working in harmony with us and vice versa.
The state of people’s health, particularly in the western world, where junk food and lack of physical activity is becoming needlessly poor. We have more resources than ever at our disposal to keep us healthy, yet in many ways we are unhealthier than we have ever been.
The answer to being healthy is to claim responsibility for your own health. You are what you eat, drink, put on your skin and use in your home. You are the one person who can make changes to your life and take charge of your health.
Use the huge amount of knowledge at your disposal to overhaul your diet and schedule in some activity. Add something as simple as drinking a healthy juice to your regime and you never know where it might lead.