Jan 28, 2011 Posted Under: Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes and Stevia

Stevia is actually a naturally occurring sweetener which is derived from a plant growing in the South American continent. It contains steviol glycoside, a chemical that is 400 times sweeter than the table sugar you may be using every day for your coffee, juices and desserts. In fact, according to the Global Stevia Institute, natives of Paraguay have been using this natural sweetener as a food enhancer for hundreds of years. But there is one question that rings in the minds of people suffering from diabetes: “Is Stevia safe for my health condition?”

In December 2008, the Food and Drug Administration issued a “no objection” notification for the use of Stevia, stating this “new” food sweetener is safe for public use. Added to this, after several years of investigation by a global panel led by the World Health Organization, publications were released in 2008, 2009 and 2010, stating Stevia can be used as a safe alternative to table sugar.

In a study published in the June 2008 issue of the Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, a group of scientists in Paraguay investigated the effect of this food sweetener in people suffering with diabetes. In this study they recruited people with:

  • normal blood pressure
  • Type 1 diabetes, and
  • Type 2 diabetes

These volunteers were randomly assigned to treatment with either Stevia, or what is known as a placebo (a simulated medical intervention that can produce a perceived or actual improvement), for a period of three months. Their…

  • blood pressure readings
  • hemoglobin A1c, the average blood sugar concentration within the red blood cells,
  • were taken before, during and after the observational period.

The researchers documented that there is no significant difference in the baseline blood pressure reading and hemoglobin A1c before the treatment and after the observation period. Furthermore, they were also not able to note any adverse reaction related to the intake of this sweetener. They therefore have concluded Stevia is a safe and well-tolerated alternative sweetener with no adverse reactions in diabetic patients who use it.

As a result, Stevia is now a very popular alternative sweetener that can be found in numerous food products such as soft drinks, teas, juices, baked products, yogurts, soy milk and confections. It can also be used as a safe alternative to the usual old table sugar. Even diabetics can have the benefit of enjoying sweet products without the fear of having high blood sugar.

As well as Stevia being able to sweeten up your food and beverages, it actually has the ability to lower blood sugar by acting on the beta cells of your pancreas to help you release insulin.

You can find Stevia at any health food store. It is sold as a sweetener in liquid form and, as well, in packet form under various brand names.

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