Fact or Myth: Is Stevia Bad for You?

This is a FACT.

Since its debut in 2008, Stevia extract has become the darling of sugar substitutes, touted as a calorie-free, “natural” sweetener. In reality, stevia is more of a Frankenstein sugar substitute…a prime example of what happens when food manufacturers turn one of Mother Nature’s creations into a chemical monstrosity.

iStock_SteviaStevia as Mother Nature Intended

The Stevia rebaudiana plant is indigenous to South America, and does indeed possess medicinal properties. Paraguay’s indigenous Guaraní have used stevia leaves to treat high blood pressure, obesity, and heartburn for thousands of years. With the rise of artificial sweeteners in the 1970s, alongside the growing awareness of their carcinogenic effects, Japanese researchers began experimenting with the stevia plant. They successfully extracted the sweetest compounds from the leaves (up to 300 times sweeter than sugar). And so began the commercialization of the “holy grail of sweeteners.” American companies such as Coca-cola jumped on board the stevia train with brands such as Truvia and SweetLeaf. These commercialized brands of stevia, however, have evolved far from their “natural” roots.

What You’re Really Pouring into Your Coffee

Stevia extracts go through a refining process that involves approximately 40 steps and the addition of know carcinogenic ingredients, such as acetone, methanol, acetonitrile, and isopropanol. The result is a highly processed, and possibly carcinogenic, sugar substitute that has been linked to liver mutation, fertility problems, and disruptions in energy metabolism.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the added ingredients, many of which are made from GMO corn:

“Natural” Flavors: These sugar alcohols, such as erythritol, maltodextrin, and agave nectar, aren’t easily absorbed by the body and can cause gas, diarrhea, headaches, and other ailments.

Xylitol: This naturally occurring substance is not in itself dangerous, but has been bastardized by the manufacturing process, which pairs it with the heavy metal toxin Raney nickel.

Glycerine: This solvent coats the teeth and interrupts the remineralizing process.

How Stevia Extract Affects Your Health

Our bodies don’t quite know what to do with these calorie-free sugar substitutes. Tricked by the sweet taste, the body activates the insulin response and ushers out glucose from the bloodstream to make room for the incoming sugar load…but no sugar ever enters. To stabilize blood sugar levels, the body then releases the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which set to work retrieving stored sugar (in the form of glycogen) from liver and muscle tissue.  When this process is continually activated, our adrenal glands burn out, our immune system is weakened, inflammation increases, and thyroid function is disturbed. If your body doesn’t have enough glycogen stored, it can’t convert the inactive thyroid hormone T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3. What happens when your thyroid function is out of whack? Weight gain…hair loss…and fatigue! In fact, numerous studies have shown that rather than contributing to weight loss, artificial sweeteners like stevia actually cause weight gain!

It’s time to replace the unnatural commercialized stevia extracts (and any other artificial sweeteners you use) with a natural sugar source. Raw honey (particularly locally sourced) is a truly all-natural source of balanced fructose and glucose that not only stabilizes blood sugar levels, but also fuels your body with nutrients and enzymes to strengthen overall health and wellness.