For a long time, people have been looking for ways to satisfy their sweet tooth cravings without having to sacrifice their waistlines or gut health for it. The real refined sugar contained in most processed foods that populate Western diets (including ones you’d never imagine) is a big no and the same applies for artificial sweeteners.
Whether it’s real sugar or the artificial sweeteners, both can create problems with the gut, either by blocking proteins that help you maintain a healthy weight or changing the composition of your gut bacteria for the worse.
With the reputation of real sugar and artificial sweeteners on the wane, a lot of you may have considered stevia, a sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant that contains nearly no calories.
Like many food products, stevia is marketed by manufacturers as a natural one, even though it’s actually processed or combined with other ingredients to create a sweetener.
But is stevia really good for your gut?
An unbalanced answer
Considering its emerging popularity, scientists at Ben Gurion University in Israel studied the effect of stevia extracts (steviol, Reb A and stevioside) in the lab on a strain derived from the harmful E. coli bacteria with an emphasis on digesting food.
Like other sweeteners, however, stevia created problems, but not by tipping the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the gut as one might assume.
Instead, stevia had the effect of disrupting the communication between bacteria in the gut, which could explain why some people experience constipation, gas or stomach pain after using it in their coffee or in making foods.
This study serves as an initial analysis that shows more work needs to be done “before the food industry replaces sugar and artificial sweeteners with stevia,” says lead researcher Dr. Karina Golberg.
The take-home message
Don’t be too concerned that there’s no “safe” sweetener you can use that will help you in your quest to protect your gut health and keep the pounds off. Here are simple steps you can take that can make a difference today.
- Stay hydrated with clean fresh water. (A healthy tip: Add lemon slices along with a dash of cinnamon or turmeric to your water for extra flavor.)
- Moderation, moderation and moderation. Pay attention to what you’re eating or drinking and how your body feels afterward (even if tastes great).
- Read the Nutrition Facts displayed on the labels of any processed foods you eat for signs of added sugars.
- Protect the bacteria in your gut so they keep working as they should behind the scenes by taking a probiotic formulated with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria.
EndoMune Advanced Probiotic is formulated with a proprietary blend of 10 bacterial strains plus a proven prebiotic (FOS) that can keep the microbiome communicating even in the presence of a “natural” sweetener like stevia.