From an early age, we are taught that sugar isn’t good for us. Studies have shown high amounts of sugar can increase our risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, kidney damage and cellular aging. Many people now seek other sweeteners to limit their sugar intake while still indulging their cravings.
One such alternative is stevia, a zero-calorie and plant-based sugar substitute that is growing in popularity. Because of stevia’s low glycemic index, it is marketed toward those trying to manage their blood sugar levels. And it comes from the leaves of a South American plant, giving it an added appeal for those seeking plant-based options instead of artificially manufactured sugar replacements.
However, a new study suggests stevia may harm gut health.
Researchers in Israel found that while stevia does not kill good bacteria in the gut, it can lead to gut imbalance by not allowing bacteria to properly communicate with each other to regulate the body’s functions.
Studies link a balanced gut microbiome to improving almost every aspect of well-being such as your immune system, heart, weight and nervous system. An unbalanced gut can also lead to decreased metabolism, inflammation and other conditions that contribute to weight gain. Using stevia in moderation can help avoid any potential imbalance.
The researchers encouraged more studies to explore the effects of stevia and determine the highest daily amount that won’t compromise gut health. The goal is to help food manufacturers determine if they should use stevia to replace sugar and its alternatives.
For those looking to better manage their health risks, it could be a sweet deal.