As the number of people jumping on the anti-sugar bandwagon sends it hurling down the side of the mountain as sugar is the enemy #1 du jour, I see a scramble to replace all forms of the perceived invader with alternative sweeteners. Thankfully, the love affair with aspartame seems to be waning among those that are at all health conscious.
The somewhat new superstar taking the diet world by storm is stevia. Stevia, marketed in various extract forms and in powdered forms such as TruVia (more on that gem later), Sweet Leaf, Pure Via, Stevia in the Raw, and probably hundreds of other I just don’t have the patience to list, over the last 15 years or so, has hijacked the attention of the majority of those that would eradicate sugar from their lives or those that aspire to a low to no carb lifestyle.
While many sing the praises of this miracle plant (even though it is rarely to never eaten as a plant, rather as a processed version of its once pure and natural “sweetleaf” self), there is a dark side to this sweetener that has gone so mainstream even Coca-Cola has glommed onto its popularity with a “stevia inspired” version of its diet component.
First, let’s look at stevia’s greatest “selling point” with the anti-sugar camp as having “no effects on blood sugar” making it, on the surface, ideal for those with diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity.
The problem with this point is that stevia, being a “sweet” taste to the body, tricks the body into believing there will be glucose (the body’s preferred fuel) so the body clears the way for this glucose by lowering blood sugar in the body clearing the way for glucose to be released. When it isn’t released, and it won’t be because stevia doesn’t contain glucose, adrenaline and cortisol surge to mobilize or worse (for those on low to no carb diets) create sugar from tissues like liver, muscle tissue, other body tissues, glands like the thymus, or proteins geared to create muscle tissue. This process is called glucogenesis and will be discussed in our coming post The Case for Sugar.
Next, the fact that the body prepares itself for glucose and none “shows up” it thrusts itself into a state of hypoglycemia. Also not a good thing.
Adrenaline and cortiol released for the purposes of mobilizing promised glucose that never shows up (as in the case of stevia induced hypoglycemia) is damaging overall to the adrenal glands leading to one factor in adrenal fatigue. If the adrenals are out of balance it is only a matter of time for the thyroid and hormones to fall out of balance. Read more on OAT Axis Imbalance Here , Here, and Here.
Too much cortisol in the body contributes to abdominal weight gain which increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity.
Believe me, beauties, any time the body creates sugar from where sugar did not exist (especially when it comes from the breakdown of the body’s own tissues, skin and muscle mass) is a bad thing. Any time adrenaline and cortisol is released into the body it is stressful and the very thing we want to be avoiding. Elevated levels of stress hormones (especially since there is rarely a two ton mammoth chasing us these days) in a chronic state contribute to inflammation, weight gain, insulin resistance, low thyroid function, and impaired immune function). If you didn’t notice already, stevia, advertised to have no effect on blood sugar which is technically good for treating insulin resistance, can ultimately be responsible for insulin resistance.
If that weren’t enough, stevia, even in its purest form, (ground from the leaf) contains steviol glycocides which have a hormonal structure similar to gibberllin and kaurene. Studies have shown they have dramatic effects on estrogen and/or progesterone and have a contraceptive effect on the body. These steviol glycocides are usually processed to isolate only two or three but for those of you who prefer the whole leaf, dried and powdered, that’s up to ten different hormone like structures going into the body taking up pathways that should be reserved for indigenous estrogen to do its job and then be eliminated from the body. When this doesn’t happen, estrogen dominance ensues.
For those of you with a propensity for kidney stones, leaky gut, autism, or arthritis, stevia is a high oxalate plant. Lowering your oxalates (green leafy cruciferous vegetables, especially when eaten raw, are examples of high oxalate vegetables) could boost your ability to heal.
Stevia does not support the synthesis of glycogen by the body. When you eat fruit, raw honey, and even, (“eek!”) cane sugar, the balanced sources of both glucose and fructose are synthesized by the liver into glycogen (glucose stores). Because stevia produces no glucose it does not aid in glycogen synthesis.
When glucose dips in the body, glycogen is mobilized (broken down) to meet energy requirements. When there is no sufficient glycogen present (such as in a low carb, no sugar diet) the stress hormones are released, as discussed.
Glycogen is also responsible for converting inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into active thyroid hormone (T3). If glycogen is not present in sufficient quantities, this does not happen. If this does not happen you have thyroid dysfunction. This leads to hypothyroidism where weight gain, hair loss, fatigue, lack of clarity, and many other symptoms.
The icing on the cake is that stevia is often marketed by manufacturers (probably due to the high cost of the “pure stuff”) in blends such as stevia with xylitol (a fruit derived alcohol that often leads to gastrointestinal issues), dextrose (a corn based sweetener often using GMO corn), and even aspartame (enough said!). You probably are not getting real stevia leaf unless you are growing, drying, and powdering the leaves yourselves.
For those of you who believe you are eating stevia to get rid of candida overgrowth, think again. The lack of sugar does not necessarily mean candida albicans will not flourish.
Eating sugar and fruit is helpful, rather than harmful as the cultists say, because well nourished yeasts aren’t harmful in the intestine. But starved yeasts need sugar and so they project invasive filaments into the intestinal wall, and can get into the blood stream, at which point – if they aren’t quickly destroyed by white blood cells – they can grow and quickly kill the person. In a typical year, a few people in the world get invasive candida and quickly die, but millions of Americans will insist that they ‘have candida in the bloodstream.’ Eating sugar (fruits, fruit juices) lowers cortisol, keeping the white cells working, helps to increase thyroid, and keeps the yeast from becoming invasive. PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids or omega-3 and -6 oils) are yeast stimulants, unlike saturated fats.– Lita Lee PhD
Stevia, if eaten, should be eaten in the presence of a carbohydrate (preferably sugar) to avoid a lot of the issues discussed, and even then, I prefer to actually fuel my body (and insist my clients do the same) with raw unfiltered honey, maple syrup, fruits and their juices, and even a little unrefined cane sugar.
What is your relationship with stevia? If you use it, what is your experience? If you’ve jumped firmly on the anti-sugar bandwagon, how do you cope with the body’s craving for “sweet”?
https://thedetoxdiva.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/the-dark-side-of-stevia.jpg8861280thedetoxdiva/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/top-logo.pngthedetoxdiva2013-07-10 00:38:112015-12-18 15:58:25The Dark Side of Stevia