Is Stevia Safe? Are There Downsides to the Sweetener Stevia?

Everybody wants to stay healthy. And the easiest way one assumes to walk on a healthy path is to say no to calories. And what is it that gives us the most number of calories every day? Sugar of course! As much as people know that all things sugar can cause more harm than good to one’s body and mind. People will never stop craving for those sugary treats like candies, brownies, dessert jars, cheesecakes, fudges, ice creams, etc. But health too is very important, right? This made most of the people out there to find alternatives to their beloved sugar. The search for a sugar substitute leads to many discoveries, the most popular among those has to be stevia.

Stevia is a sugar substitute that is derived from a plant and has made its place into the list of very unique food ingredients simply because it is loved for what it doesn’t do. It simply doesn’t add any calories to your food. This uniqueness of Stevia has made many looks at it like it were a ray of hope in the weight loss world. But hey, weight loss can also be achieved by making the best use of programs like Halki Diabetes Remedy as well. However, the world is abuzz with some negative effects that Stevia has on our bodies. So, is it safe to consume Stevia and substitute it with sugar? Let’s continue reading to know more.

Sweetener Stevia

Understanding Stevia In An Exact Manner

Another name that could be given to Stevia would be “zero-calorie sweetener.” Many people find themselves using it in the place of sugar to lessen the calorie consumption on a daily basis. The scientific name of Stevia is Stevia rebaudiana. It is actually a plant that is a family member of the chrysanthemum family. And this family is the subgroup of the ragweed family called Asteraceae. This family is natives to regions of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas. Now, what one needs to understand is that there is a huge difference in the Stevia you would grow at home and the one that’s readily available on the shelf of the nearest grocery to you. The Stevia products that are found on the grocery stores do not contain whole Stevia leaves. In fact, they are all made using a refined extract of Stevia leaf which is called Reb-A (rebaudioside). Some of the Stevia products have an extremely less amount of Stevia in them. What would shock you more is that this Stevia leaves extract, Reb-A is considered to be a shocking 200 times sweeter than sugar itself. Also, these so-called Stevia sweeteners that are made of Reb-A, they are termed by nutritionists as “novel sweeteners” as these have a blend of erythritol (sugar alcohol) and dextrose (glucose). All this being said, what we would like to get another important point to your notice that the FDA body has not approved the stevia leaf itself as a whole or its extracts safe to be used as a sugar substitute.

Is Stevia Safe For Consumption?

Some of them say that consuming Stevia can lead to damaging the kidneys and the reproductive system of the human body. It also has the capability of mutating the genes as well. Hence, it is believed that the FDA didn’t approve of whole-leaf or even refined Stevia as “okay” in foods. But this is just one side of the story.

The other story talks about how studies that were conducted much, later on, prove that Stevia is safe for consumption if it is registered in the right amounts. Also, the FDA surely hasn’t approved Stevia as safe however, it hasn’t even questioned of debated over it. This is precisely why you will still come across Stevia food products in the markets today. This only goes on to imply that Stevia consumption can be regarded as safe. But that doesn’t let us ignore the side effects of Stevia.

Side Effects Posed By Stevia Consumption

  1. May Cause Hypoglycemia

This can be regarded as a benefit also and even a side effect due to the overuse of Stevia. Overconsumption of Stevia leads to low blood sugar levels in the body—this can be a boon to some and bane to some. However, heavy Stevia intake along with high blood sugar medicines can lead to hypoglycemia which is a condition where the blood sugar levels go way too low and could be dangerous.

  1. May Cause Gastrointestinal Problems

Many believe that regularly taking Stevia can lead to problems of nausea. This is because the stevioside which are present in Stevia can irritate the stomach. This will lead to loss of appetite and bloating of the stomach as well. It’s also believed that consuming Stevia can cause gut damage and diarrhea as well. But, in the end, more research needs to be done to determine this in a full-proof manner.

  1. May Result In Endocrine Disruption

There’s also a probability that the steviol glycosides might cause a drift in the hormones which are under the control of the endocrine system in our body. Several studies have posed how when a male was using Stevia regularly, the lab tests showed that his sperm cells had an uplift in the number of progesterone hormones which is the hormone that is dominant in the reproductive system of females.

  1. May Lead To Numbness

Though there isn’t much detailed information regarding this point, an anecdotal evidence speaks about how certain people began experiencing numbness in their hands and feet after taking Stevia. So, keep an eye for such reactions, visit a doctor immediately if you feel any signs of numbness in your body.

  1. May Give Birth To Allergies

Even though there aren’t any scientific pieces of evidence to supports this point, several anecdotal pieces of evidence speak about how artificial sweeteners like Stevia can cause allergies in a few people.

Another common-sense observation is that if you are allergic to ragweed, then you are probably allergic to Stevia as well. Few theories support this which explains that the body might misunderstand the protein you take for pollens and might signal the immune system to attack a launch. Allergic reactions could be itching and swelling of mouth, throat, tongue, or lips.

Who Definitely Shouldn’t Be Using Stevia?

Yes, researches are still underway to understand whether or not Stevia can be considered safe or not. However, it is believed that certain individuals could contract severe health problems with consuming Stevia. We are talking about individuals who have the following problems:

  • Kidney problems
  • Blood sugar problems
  • Heart conditions
  • Blood pressure problems
  • Hormonal issues

Also, please make a note that Stevia also has the capacity to react with few drugs like Lithium, antidiabetes drugs, antihypertensive drugs, etc. Individuals who are taking medications are also suggested to not use Stevia.

Stevia And Pregnancy

None of the studies talk about Stevia causing any harm to pregnant people. If Stevia is taken in low doses, it is safe; at least it is in the case of animal studies. But the safety is yet to be proven officially for humans, therefore, it’s best advised to consult your doctor and then decide if consuming Stevia is a good idea or not.

How To Use Stevia As A Sugar Substitute?

Stevia definitely can be used on your tables in the place of sugar in your beverages and foods. But remember that a small pinch of stevia is equal to a spoon of sugar. The best ways to consume it are:

  • In tea or coffee
  • In lemonade
  • When sprinkled on cold or hot cereal
  • While making a smoothie
  • While consuming unsweetened yogurt

The goodness of using Stevia doesn’t end with just this, one can also bake cakes and cookies and all things good by using Stevia as a sweetener.

The Takeaway

Stevia products that are made with Reb-A are known to be safe for use. Such products will rarely cause any kind of side effects. However, there has to be more research that needs to go in order to obtain conclusive evidence regarding the same. And also, whole-leaf Stevia isn’t approved for use commercially. And there’s no proof about Stevia aiding weight loss as well. If you want to start the weight loss journey on the right note by taking the right help, then we suggest you look at Halki Diabetes Remedy, a program that will guide with respect to what kind of exercise regime to follow and what kind of diet needs to be followed. Stay healthy dear readers!

Read: Home Remedies For Treating Diabetes

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