As it turns out, one by one all artificial sweeteners are being found to have major downsides in causing unwanted side-effects in the body. So this article may be a surprise to most, since stevia is considered a “natural” alternative sweetener.
But stevia is…..not what you think it is! Those white powders and clear drops we find in groceries have very little to do with stevia leaves. They aren’t really stevia at all. They’re an extract that’s been super-refined (highly processed) using toxic chemicals, bleach, and marketed as “healthy”.
But I got “hooked” on stevia. I wrote here a while back that, “I found I really, really liked using it! Slowly, over time, I kept thinking about having more and MORE, and if I didn’t get to have it, I craved (felt addicted to) the stuff.
Sadly, I kept using it until I learned a thing or two.
After this video, I bullet-point the 4 major side-effects stevia causes (supported by the studies).
The 4 Main Problems With Stevia
1. Stevia has been shown to kill beneficial gut bacteria. For example, a 2014 study also showed that stevioside and rebaudioside A dramatically inhibited growth and activity of six Lactobacillus reuteri strains, an extremely important probiotic for human health and vital resident of a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. In fact, a 2003 study showed that many important probiotic bacteria (including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) could not metabolize steviol glycosides.
And, an alarming 2020 study showed that when pregnant rats consumed stevia along with a high-fat diet, that their offspring had higher body fat and impaired glucose tolerance at 8 weeks old, despite the offspring never consuming stevia. The detriment was (at least in part) attributed to altered gut microbiomes, including a reduction in Lactobacillus species and overabundance of Porphyromonadaceae (many species of which are infectious and associated with health problems, including gingivitis, liver cirrhosis, and colorectal carcinoma), in both the pregnant and lactating moms and their pups.
Bottomline, these studies show that stevia can suppress the growth of key probiotic strains and magnifies dysbiosis of the gut eventually leading to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, obesity and cancer. (source)
2. Stevia Is an Endocrine Disruptor. The fact that steviol glycosides have a steroid hormone structure should raise immediate concerns. Examples of steroid hormones are cortisol, testosterone, progesterone and estrogen. So, it’s not really surprising that steviol glycosides act like a hormone and interact with hormone systems in our body.
So, what exactly is an endocrine disruptor? Basically, it’s any chemical that messes up any hormone, hormone receptor, or negative feedback loop in the endocrine system.
3. Stevia interacts with the sex hormones and lowers fertility. (source)
The 2016 study confirmed the endocrine-disrupting potential of stevioside, rebaudioside A and steviol on progesterone. In particular, stevia increases production of progesterone, while blocking (antagonizing) its receptor. Progesterone is essential for female reproductive health, including maintaining pregnancy, regulating the menstrual cycle, and fertility. In fact, progesterone receptor antagonists are used clinically as contraceptives and to terminate pregnancy. This information seems to confirm an impact of stevia on fertility, perhaps explaining the efficacy of the traditional use of the stevia plan to control fertility in women of the Guarani Indians in southern Brazil. (source)
4. All “stevia” in grocery stores is processed with toxic chemicals and over 85% of all stevia comes from China. Even the world’s top stevia marketer, international sugar giant Cargill, manufacturer of Truvia and PureVia with Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, has all of its stevia produced in China (source). And it’s reported that forced labor is used in production.
A $6.1 million final settlement was reached in a class action lawsuit against Cargill, Inc. The company falsely labeled and advertised Truvia Sweetener products as made primarily from all-natural ingredients. However, the sweetener contained all chemical and synthetic-based ingredients. While all documentation of the 40-step process that refined stevia goes through have been disappeared, this image illustrates that the steps are quite numerous.
What To Avoid and Why
(Excerpt and images via Food Babe Vani Hari).
“The 40-step patented process used to make Truvia should make you want to steer clear of this stevia product alone, but there are two other concerning ingredients added (not only to Truvia but other stevia products as well). Erythritol starts with genetically-engineered corn and then go through a complex fermentation process to come up with chemically, synthetically pure erythritol. Check out the manufacturing process below, and note it is fermented using a FUNGUS):
“Natural flavors” is another ingredient added to powdered and liquid stevia products, likely due to the fact that these products often develop a metallic taste. David Kessler (former head of the FDA) calls natural flavors a “food carnival” in your mouth. They are addictive brain excitotoxins, tricking your mind into wanting more and more. And they are anything but natural; that’s why I recommend putting products that contain “natural flavors” back on the shelf.
“Stevia in the Raw” and Pepsi Co’s “Pure Via,” sound pure and natural, but the first thing on their labels is “dextrose”. Dextrose is another sweetener derived from genetically-engineered corn and has a long complicated manufacturing process, just like erythritol.”
Despite this research, stevia is still available for sale as a sweetening additive in many processed food products. Occasional consumption of small amounts of stevia likely has little to no impact on general health. Think twice about stevia if you are struggling with fertility issues, hormone imbalances, or chronic disease. (source)
“Everything is permissible for me, but not all things are beneficial. Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be enslaved by anything [and brought under its power, allowing it to control me].“ ~1 Corinthians 6:12 Amplified
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Medical Disclaimer: I am no longer a practicing medical professional, and I am not doctor. I am a mother. I do seek scientific confirmation of the safety and effectiveness of the herbs and remedies I use. Using remedies is a personal decision. Nothing I say on this blog is intended to treat or prevent disease. Consult your own doctor.
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