Aloe Vera and pineapple are both nutritious foods that can help you to lose some weight, in conjunction with a healthy diet. Neither is a miracle substance but there are solid reasons why you might want to include both foods in your weight loss plans. We’ll get to that a little later, but first we need to look at sourcing your aloe vera because finding a good product is a bit hit and miss.
Sourcing pineapple is easy enough. You can by it all year round at your supermarket. But finding a good aloe vera product is another story altogether.
To follow this diet, you’ll need to buy Aloe Vera plants and use the gel from their leaves, or you’ll need to purchase aloe vera juice. And it’s finding a good juice that’s the tricky part.
Recent testing of a number of aloe vera products taken from the shelves of retailers including Walmart, Target, Walgreen and CVS found that many products contained no detectable aloe vera at all.
The products tested included skin care items, dietary supplements and juices. The aloe vera suppliers loudly proclaim that they stand behind their products and that the testing is flawed. Lawsuits seeking class action status have been filed and no doubt we’ll learn more as time goes on, but in the meantime how do you find a reputable brand of Aloe Vera juice?
Price is one indicator. Aloe Vera is an expensive plant to harvest and process. Often the aloe that makes it into products comes in the form of a powder and this powder sells for about $240 per kilo. A spokesperson for one of the biggest suppliers of Aloe Vera powder says that they see competitors selling powder for less than half of its market price, and it’s very clear that the product they are selling is not pure aloe powder.
When you buy aloe vera juice, you have no way of knowing for sure what amount of aloe is in your juice or what form of aloe the manufacturers have used. Aloe juice is a food, it isn’t regulated in any way. Some manufactures will use the inner part of the leaf with its clear gel to make a juice while others will use whole leaf.
Some will cold press the juice from the leaf, others will dry the leaf to make powder.
Whole leaf includes the rind and the outer leaf pulp (sap) as well as the gel inner part. This outer leaf pulp poses a concern because it contains compounds called anthraquinones. One of these is Aloin which is a laxative. These compounds have also been implicated in carcinogenic activity when tested in animals.
The best thing to do is check labels carefully and make sure that at the very least it states that Aloin has been removed. A cold pressed juice extracted from the leaf is also a better choice than a powder mixed with water.
Traditionally when people have ingested aloe vera they cut away the rind and the outer pulp and consume only the clear inner gel. This is the way that I take my aloe. I haven’t purchased a juice product since 2009 but I can point you in the direction of the product that I used to buy – Aloe Pura by Optima.
If you want to obtain your aloe vera directly from the plant and remove all doubt about the quality of the aloe that you’re using, then it’s easy enough to do.
First you’ll need some plants. One plant won’t provide enough gel for you, and if you cut off too many leaves from a single plant, you’ll kill it. Make sure that the plants you purchase are aloe vera (Aloe Barbadensis), because there are over 400 species of the plant and aloe vera is the type known to provide all of the health benefits.
In warm climates your aloe plants can live happily in your yard or in big pots or your patio. If you live in an area that gets cold winters, you’ll need to bring your plants indoors when it gets cold.
Aloes growing happily in good soil make lots of new baby plants. You’ll see them growing at the sides of the main plant. All you have to do is detach them and pot them up, and you’ll have expanded your supply of aloe vera.
To extract the gel from the leaves, use a sharp knife to make a clean cut. If you want a small amount of gel to help heal a burn, you only need cut about an inch of leaf away from the plant, but for making juice to drink, take a whole leaf.
Cut the leaf off at the base, then set it on a cutting board. Trim away the sides of the leaf, then turn the knife to horizontal, place the palm of your hand flat on top of the leaf and carefully slice the rind away. Flip the leaf and repeat to remove the rind from the bottom.
Don’t trim to close to the margin between the gel and the green rind, you don’t want to end up with any of the outer pulp. I always cut so that a little of the clear gel is left on the leaves. Don’t waste it though, rub the leaf on your hands, arms, etc to give them a little aloe love.
Once you’ve got your aloe gel, you can pop it into your blender with some fresh pineapple and whiz it up. Or you can put your pineapple through a juicer and then mix in the aloe. You’ll lose a lot of fiber that way though.
Okay, so you’ve got your pineapple and aloe juice, how does it help you to lose weight?
Well, most people use the juice to replace a meal. This cuts some calories and gives your body plenty of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Let’s break all of that down.
Fewer Calories When You Drink Aloe Vera And Pineapple Juice
One cup of pineapple juice contains about 130 calories, and one cup of aloe vera juice gives you roughly the same amount. So one 8 ounce serving of the two juices will provide 130 calories.
Depending on what you would normally eat for breakfast, lunch or dinner, replacing one of those meals with juice will result in a much smaller amount of calories consumed, assuming you don’t overeat at your next meal.
Suppose you usually eat 500 calories at lunch. By having this juice you save 370 calories. Conventional wisdom holds that to lose a pound of fat you need a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. Leaving aside the problems with that conventional wisdom and sticking with it for simplicity, we can estimate that you’ll drop a pound in 10 days.
But you can achieve a calorie deficit in any number of ways right? Eat a yogurt for lunch, have a boiled egg with salad. Both are a lot less fuss and expense that buying pineapples and using aloe vera. So what’s the benefit of bothering with these juices? In a word, nutrients.
Aloe Vera And Pineapple Give Your Body Plenty Of Valuable Nutrients
Your body is a complex organism. You’ve got trillions of cells made up of thousands of kinds of proteins, carrying out countless functions all day long. Those thousands of proteins are made up of just 20 different amino acids that are combined in myriad ways to build you.
Vitamins and minerals are required in some cases to help manufacture those proteins and in others to act as electrolytes that enable all of the electrical activity in your body. They maintain your fluid balance, allow your immune system to function, enable cells to remove their waste products, and they carry out innumerable processes that keep you alive.
Like the amino acids, the number of different vitamins and minerals is very small, yet the number of functions that they carry out is enormous. When you’re low on any of these nutrients, your body doesn’t work properly and disease conditions set in.
We can illustrate this easily by using Vitamin C as an example. Vitamin C is directly or indirectly responsible for about 12,000 processes in your body. One of those processes is the manufacture of collagen. Collagen is a major protein found throughout your body. It super strong (weight for weight it’s stronger than steel), and it’s in your skin, bones, teeth, gums, blood vessels, eyes, heart, intestines, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, muscles, and the list goes on. When you are severely Vitamin C deficient, you develop scurvy, collagen manufacture grinds to a halt, and you begin to fall apart. Without rapid intervention with Vitamin C, death follows.
The daily amounts of this vitamin recommended by official sources are based on the amount of Vitamin C that you need to avoid scurvy, not the amount that you need for good health. Even so, scurvy is making a comeback because so many people’s diets contain little to no fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin C is also known for its functions in helping muscle growth and burning fat. In one study men who took 500mg a day of Vitamin C increased their fat burning during exercise by 39%.
Having too little Vitamin C in the blood is also associated with increased body fat. Researchers at Arizona State University discovered that the more Vitamin C you have in your body the more fat you can burn for fuel.
At the beginning of a four week trial, 20 obese men and women were randomized into either a Vitamin C group, taking 500 mg Vitamin C each day, or a control group, taking a placebo.
Those with already low amounts of Vitamin C in their body tended to burn fat for fuel less effectively than those with higher levels of Vitamin C.
The participants were given a controlled diet designed to produce weight loss of 2 pounds per week. This diet also contained low levels of Vitamin C equalling 40 mg per day.
The study found that those who were only consuming the low level of Vitamin C from the food in the diet reduced their fat burning capacity by a further 11%.
Vitamin C is a cofactor for the biosynthesis of carnitine, a small protein-like molecule. Carnitine moves fat molecules to the sites in tissue cells where they can be burned for fuel. Without adequate Vitamin C, levels of carnitine are insufficient and fat doesn’t get burned for energy. You feel tired, you feel hungry, and you grab a sugary snack for an energy fix.
The takeaway point here is that you need Vitamin C to be able to burn fat for fuel. One cup of pineapple juice contains 110mg of Vitamin C. Aloe vera also contains Vitamin C but not in significant amounts. It does however increase both the absorption of Vitamin C and the length of time that the vitamin is present in your blood before it gets excreted. So when you drink aloe and pineapple together the aloe enhances the effect of the fat burning Vitamin C.
So far so good! But there’s more.
Pineapple and aloe vera both give you plenty of fiber. Fiber helps to fill you up, but its role in weight control doesn’t end there.
Fiber Keeps Your Gut Microbiome Healthy
Your body is host to a huge amount of bacteria. These bacteria live synergistically with humans and we wouldn’t be us without them. In fact there are more bacteria in your body than human cells. They’re so tiny though, that they don’t account for much of your body mass.
In your digestive system you have about 3 pounds of bacteria consisting of over 1000 different species. If you’re in good health, most of those bacteria are the beneficial kind. These good bacteria help to digest your food, produce some vitamins, form part of your immune system, produce neurotransmitters, and keep the number of bad bacteria to a minimum.
Take care of those bacteria and they will take care of you. Abuse them though and they die. When the numbers of beneficial bacteria dwindle the harmful bacteria take over.
What harms good bacteria? A bad diet, antibiotics, stress, insufficient sunlight, pesticides on conventionally grown foods, exercise, even the kind of chocolate that you eat.
If you eat a moderate amount of dark chocolate rich in cocoa solids, you help your beneficial bacteria because that type of chocolate contains antioxidant polyphenols and fiber, and not much sugar. Cheap milk chocolate on the other hand is mostly sugar, and that harms the good guys and feeds the bad guys.
Your beneficial bacteria need fiber to survive and thrive. It’s their food source. The bad guys, well they like sugar.
Carbohydrate rich diets are like an all you can eat buffet for bad gut bacteria, because simple carbs like rice, potatoes, bread, pasta, etc are just sugar as far as your body is concerned. Even so called complex carbs are sugar, but these at least have an appreciable amount of fiber.
When the good/bad bacteria balance is disturbed in favor of the bad guys, you’ll most likely gain weight and have trouble losing it.
Scientists have researched the effects of gut bacteria populations on obesity. Lean mice fed a healthy diet were turned into big fat mice by the simple addition of gut bacteria taken from obese mice to their systems. Their healthy diet didn’t change, and they still got fat.
Fat mice have been turned into lean mice by introducing them to the good gut bacteria from healthy lean mice.
Gut bacteria from obese humans has also made lean mice fat.
Bad bacteria take control of your appetite. They use your vagus nerve which runs from your gut to your brain, to send messages demanding food. Carbohydrate rich, calorie stuffed food.
They cause inflammation of your fat cells. Inflamed fat cells produce a hormone that decreases insulin sensitivity in your muscle tissue, and increases insulin sensitivity in your adipose tissue (fat). What does this mean? It means that your muscles are less able to take in glucose and burn it for energy, while your fat cells are primed to suck in that glucose and turn it into more fat.
Bad bacteria also suppress a hormone known as Fasting Induced Adipocyte Factor (FIAF). Without this your body doesn’t burn fat.
In short they disrupt your metabolism and make you tired and fat. Get rid of the bad guys from your gut and you can fire your metabolism back up and begin to burn fat for energy.
How do you get rid of the bad guys? Make sure that you eat fiber rich foods like pineapple and aloe vera (among other healthy foods) and limit your consumption of simple carbohydrates.
As you feed your good bacteria and their numbers swell, they will crowd out and suppress the bad bacteria, and your gut microbiome will return to a healthy state which helps you instead of hurting you.
Your good gut bacteria are also aided by the antioxidant polyphenols in both pineapple and aloe vera, so that’s another good reason to consume these foods.
Let’s back up to that adipose tissue inflammation for a second. Research has found that aloe vera suppresses something called scavenger receptor A and CD36 on macrophages in white adipose tissue. Inhibiting their actions is thought to prevent inflammatory responses in your fat cells. Plus aloe increases AMPk activation in muscle and fat cells.
AMPk gets switched on whenever the energy level in a cell drops. In muscle tissue AMPk increases fatty acid oxidation – it makes muscle burn fat for energy. In the liver, AMPk activation decreases the production of fatty acids and cholesterol. In fat cells, AMPk decreases fatty acid synthesis. AMPk also increases insulin sensitivity, which is helpful for anyone with metabolic syndrome where insulin sensitivity is impaired.
So aloe vera helps to reduce adipose inflammation, and we know that adipose inflammation results in decreased glucose uptake by muscle tissues. Aloe also increases AMPk activation in muscle cells which allows them to burn fatty acids for energy. and that same AMPk in your fat cells stops them from making fatty acids out of glucose.
Let’s put it all together:
- Replacing a meal with pineapple and aloe vera creates a calorie deficit.
- Pineapple is rich in Vitamin C which is essential for a healthy body and is also crucial for the production of carnitine.
- Carnitine moves fatty acids to the receptor sites in cells where they can be burned for energy.
- More Vitamin C = more carnitine = more fat burning.
- The fiber in pineapple and aloe vera feed good gut bacteria, and a healthy gut microbiome revs up metabolism and burns fat.
- Aloe vera reduces inflammation in adipose tissue and increases AMPk activation in muscle cells and fat cells.
- AMPk helps your muscles burn fatty acids for energy, and stops your fat cells from turning glucose into fat.
Both foods are also excellent sources of other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are all fantastic substances to have as often as possible!