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Is Stevia Bad For You? {Evidence Based}

Stevia, natural sweeteners, sugar free sweeteners, stevia bad, is stevia bad for you, is stevia healthy

Is Stevia Bad For You? {Evidence Based}

Stevia is a natural sugar-free option for baking, beverages, + more. But, is stevia bad for you? We wanted to dive into the research to find out what we do know about stevia and how it affects your health. Heads up: I think I will be breaking up with stevia *insert cry face* since I use it in my matcha often!

Is Stevia Bad For You?

Stevia is a plant that is native to South American. It’s naturally sweet without any actually sugar. It have no calories + usually recommended to people who are trying to avoid sugar and/or are diabetic. While the studies between stevia and blood sugar are good, we also have to think outside the box. How does stevia affect hormones? Or how does stevia affect our microbiome?

This is what I want to help uncover today because the studies aren’t looking too promising. As a practice who helps women help balance hormones and improve gut health using food as medicine, we are always in the research trying to find the latest and greatest. Let’s hop into these studies!

Stevia and Hormones

In a 2016 study that was done in vitro (done inside a test tube versus a human body), it took the steviol glycosides found in stevia to look at how it affects sex hormones. Since these glycosides found in stevia have a steriodal structure, there could be a potential impact. They used human sperm cells in this study. There was a decrease in the progesterone receptor when progesterone was around. Granted this was with a 25,000 ng/ml amount, but did show there was a 31% decrease in the receptors responding to progesterone.

We need receptors to be working properly in order for our body to utilize hormones properly. When the glycosides were the amounts between 500-25,000 ng/ml, there was significant increase in progesterone production. While this could be ideal for someone who is having trouble producing progesterone, it’s not ideal because receptors decrease.

Stevia and Gut Health

I was really interested to learn more about how stevia affects gut health because I know from previous research I’ve done with artificial sweeteners showed that there was an impact on the microbiome. As a practitioner who is all up in that microbiome, I need to know ALL THE THINGS!

In a study done in 2014, they took stevia glycosides and looked at how it affected the growth of lactobacillus reuteri strains. A total of 6 lactobacillus reuteri strains were used. When these strains were in the presence of stevia glycosides, there was impaired growth on the strains.

Another study looked at how stevia affected the fecal community and it was found that the intestinal microbiome was not able to degrade the compounds of stevia. In this study though, stevia did not influence the composition of the stool cultures. In a rat study, stevia consumption did show to alter the gut microbiome and also changed gene expression in the region of the nucleus that plays a role in food seeking. Stevia increased short chain fatty acids, such as acetate and valerate. Short chain fatty acids are important to help encourage quality intestinal barriers, lowering pH, feeding colon cells, + more.

So in all, is stevia bad for you? The research I mentioned here in this article is quite a bit concerning and I think I might kiss stevia goodbye for now as more studies come out because I want to guard any dysbiotic changes that can happen inside the gut.

What’s your take on is stevia bad for you? Would love to continue this conversation over on Instagram!

Are you someone who needs to improve their health and want to be able to cut out all the nutrition noise all over the interwebs? Head over to our Services page to learn more about what we do + how we can help ya!

Lahana Vigliano, CCN
Lahana Vigliano
lahana@nuvitruwellness.com

Lahana Vigliano is a Certified Clinical Nutritionist and CEO of Nuvitru Wellness. She has her Bachelor's Degree in Nutrition Science and currently pursing her Masters Degree in Nutrition Science and Functional Medicine. Lahana and her team help support women who struggle with weight loss, hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, chronic fatigue, and many other lingering issues that leaves women not feeling their best. She uses food as medicine, as well as herbs and supplements when needed, to support her clients. She looks at the whole body holistically making sure women are understanding how nutrition, sleep, stress, and their environment impact their health. Connect with her on Facebook + Instagram (@nuvitruwellness).