Friday, February 15, 2008
It's not what Stevia can do for your sweet tooth...
...it's what it can do for your blood sugar!
When a 200-some lb. guy says half a packet of Stevia gave him low blood sugar after a meal high in protein and fat you can't but think twice about all the research you've read. I truly like to sum it up like this:
- Stevia is sweet. Sweeter than sugar.
- Stevia is safe compared to other sweeteners like aspartame.
- Stevia has an effect on pancreatic beta cells, thus lowering blood sugar (both acute and in long term studies)
- Stevia can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure
- It has a mild diuretic effect
Any or all of the effects could have caused him to feel hypoglycemic, he could have been had low blood pressure, but never checked.
In addition, Stevia is known to have anti-inflammatory properties, to kill fungi, bacteria and viruses. It's also known to help ward off caries. Coming from a cavity-prone genetic tree, and a culture where Calcium was not added to anything in my young years, I find this pretty cool.
I have used Stevia many times, in food preparation (it's heat stable), and in drinks (lemonade, shakes). I have never ever experienced any acute blood glucose lowering effects.
If you are suffering from treated diabetes whether it's type 1 or 2 I would suggest you measure your blood glucose after ingesting Stevia, and check with your endocrinologist about the dosage of your medication. If you are healthy, see if having a non caffeinated drink with Stevia causes you to feel sleepy, lethargic, or weak, nauseated and shaky. If it does, check if drinking it on a full stomach makes a difference. I think feeling low after Stevia would be a concern for people following either a low carb or a lower carb low calorie diet, as it naturally causes them to have lower blood glucose. Then again, I have been following a lower carb plan for over 4 years and have never been hypoglycemic because of Stevia.
I believe that if used in moderation, Stevia extract is a great alternative to sweeteners and sugar, but like everything else, bear in mind that individual reactions may vary.
To read more about Stevia and check out a list of studies, follow this source!
The Stevia product I enjoy most for taste and convenience is made by Now Foods.
The box has little packets you can take anywhere, they are flavor free, which makes them great for cooking purposes too. I am not a fan of the liquid versions as I like containers I can transport safely and easily.