Here’s your easy-to-read guide on stevia and gut bacteria so you can skip all those sleepy scientific studies.
On the other hand, should you need a natural sleep remedy, the studies are also referenced. Now, go grab your favorite beverage and enjoy…or pin for later!
Personally, Stevia has improved my digestive health for over 30 years… except when I use the wrong brands.
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Healthiest Brands of Stevia for Gut Bacteria
Here are some of the healthiest stevia products available:
Personal Favorite: Budget-friendly and organic
Although powdered stevia is more economical, liquids are easier to control. Additionally, liquids aren’t likely to contain gut disrupting fibers and gas-producing sugar alcohols.
Then again, if you prefer powder, this 100% stevia brand doesn’t contain fillers or other gut disrupting ingredients.
Interestingly, stevia and gut bacteria link in many ways. By understanding these links you can improve your health.
After all, a strong gut microbiome feeds, protects, cleanses, and keeps you strong
In addition, people taking drugs should consult their physician before consuming stevia-based products.
Is Stevia Natural or Artificial
Stevia is a bushy plant that naturally grows along the edges of rain forests in South America. Although its leaves are sweet, they also contain bitter compounds.
For this reason, processing is used to remove its bitterness and makes stevia easier to dissolve in food and beverages.
That being said, once stevia is processed into a fine powder or a liquid extract, it might not be artificial, but it’s heavily processed. Which is why it’s important to understand the safest way to use stevia extracts.
Although, the most natural way to use stevia as a sweetener is to grind its dried green leaves into a powder. Powdered stevia leaves have an earthy sweetness and a bit of ‘texture’.
Try my favorite brand of dried organic stevia leaf.
Tip: Add a pinch of dried stevia leaves to your coffee grounds before brewing or add them to the bottom of a warm cup of tea.
No time to waste? Here’s a pre-ground green stevia sweetener that’s sweet, smooth, and keeps fresh for over a year.
However, if you prefer convenience and versatility, stevia extracts are the way to go. Here’s how to use them in the safest way possible.
Is Stevia Good For Gut Bacteria?
Processing matters. Minimally processed stevia without harmful fillers and ingredients doesn’t negatively affect gut bacteria.
In fact, pure stevia brands can enhance health goals. Stevia is helpful for weight loss, lowering blood sugar, and curing sugar addictions.
Because stevia is natural, it’s often promoted on food packaging. On the other hand, toxic or gut-disrupting artificial sweeteners go unmentioned. Consequently, it’s always important to read the ingredient list.
For this reason, it’s better to ask, “Is your stevia extract healthy and pure?”
Tip: Always check the label. Many brands labeled ‘Stevia’ often have other ingredients that cause digestive issues.
Again, this is my favorite pure brand of stevia and why:
This economically priced stevia isn’t bitter. It’s organic and comes without added flavors so it can be used in sweet or savory dishes. Plus, the pop-top easily allows you to drip out one drop at a time. Controlling your stevia is of utmost importance for satisfying flavor. Finally, for versatility, you can’t beat plain stevia
Nonetheless, it’s fun to have flavored stevia extract on hand too. It’s an easy way to make specialty coffee drinks or to give water an extra punch of flavor. Below are my favorite flavored stevia extracts in case you’re interested in trying something more exciting.
Does Stevia Kill Bacteria?
There’s evidence that green stevia similar to other natural compounds (garlic, oregano, cinnamon, and ginger) breaks down bacteria biofilms.
Bacteria colonies use slimy biofilm as a shield to ‘hide’ from the immune system and antibiotics.
For this reason, exposing disease causing bacteria allows the immune system and antibacterials to attack and destroy the harmful invaders.
Consequently, stevia is being studied to see if it can bust the biofilm of the bacterium spirochete, borrelia burgdorferi, that causes Lyme disease.
Although studies aren’t conclusive, some Lyme disease specialists are finding more success with their antibiotic protocols by adding stevia to them.
Is Stevia a Prebiotic?
Unfortunately, processing removes prebiotic fibers from stevia leaves.
Although stevia is often combined with the prebiotic fiber, inulin, to give it enough volume to be used in individual sweetener packets. Still, it’s important to know, inulin isn’t digestible.
So for some, indigestible prebiotic fibers like inulin, can negatively impact gut health and cause bloating. If that’s the case, liquid stevia extract or 100% pure powdered stevia is the safer way to sweeten foods without disrupting digestion.
Does Stevia Feed Bad Gut Bacteria?
No, stevia extract doesn’t feed good or bad bacteria.
In contrast, sugar feeds both harmful gut bacteria and yeast.
In fact, replacing sugar in your diet with stevia can starves sugar-loving bacteria.
How Does Stevia Affect the Gut Microbiome?
This study shows how stevia might disrupt communication between gut bacteria. Unfortunately, the study’s inconclusive results need further investigation.
In short, stevia doesn’t feed bad gut bacteria and it’s easily digestible.
Can Stevia Cause Bowel Problems?
Sadly, digestive disorders can ruin the day and slow you down. That’s why discovering what’s causing recurring abdominal pain is critical to feeling good.
On the whole, controlled studies show stevia doesn’t cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
When stevia products do cause tummy troubles, then it’s worth reading the ingredient list.
As shown above, many negative side effects of stevia come from mixing it with fillers and additives that cause bowel problems.
To be sure, inulin fiber is a common additive in powdered stevia that can cause gas, bloating, and cramps.
Since stevia is 200 times sweeter than traditional sugar, not much is needed in recipes. Many sugar alcohols like erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, maltitol, or xylitol add bulk to stevia while keeping products sugar-free.
Like inulin, sugar alcohols aren’t digestible and are known to cause digestive complaints like bloating and diarrhea.
Below are tips on how to use stevia extract in baking to help avoid stomach issues.
Can Stevia Cause Body Aches?
While there’s no evidence that stevia causes body aches, removing sugar from your diet can cause achiness as a detox symptom. Fortunately, sugar withdrawal symptoms usually go away after a few days.
Also, if you’re body aches while consuming stevia don’t immediately assume it’s the stevia. As discussed, stevia-sweetened soda, desserts, supplements, and sweeteners often have other ingredients that could cause discomfort.
Everyone is unique and while stevia can be healthy and wonderful for one person, another could have a sensitivity to it.
In this case, the easiest way to test whether stevia is causing body aches is to remove it from your diet. See if the body achiness goes away and then reintroduce it to see if you can bring the aches back.
What are the Negative Effects of Stevia?
From time to time, stevia is under attack in studies and online authors sometimes take inaccurate studies about stevia and blow them out of proportion.
Case in point:
Because stevia is a diuretic, it was falsely reported to cause kidney damage with long term use. Its diuretic effect would overwork the kidneys and cause them to fail.
Yet, other diuretics like coffee, tea, and lemon water receive praise for their ability to rid the body of excess water and reduce puffiness.
In fact, in a 2013 study, stevia reduced cyst growth in the renal kidney cells.
All the same, if you’re experiencing negative digestive issues when eating foods sweetened with stevia, it’s important to pay attention.
A food log or journal can help uncover eating habits and ingredients that are causing stomach aches and pains like Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s, Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or chronic diarrhea.
Why was Stevia Banned in the U.S.?
1n 1991, preliminary studies suggested stevia might cause cancer or reproductive harm in rats.
Four years later, in 1995, with a more controlled study, previous results were refuted and stevia was found to be safe.
Is Stevia Banned in Europe?
No, but it does come with a usage recommendation.
Since 2011, steviol glycosides have been approved as a food additive (sweetener) in E. U..
According to the European Food Safety Authority (and the FDA), the acceptable daily intake of stevia glycosides is 4 milligrams (mg) per kilogram of body weight.
Meaning, daily, one should not exceed more than 4 mg of stevia for every kilogram of body weight.
So let’s do the math.
|BODY WEIGHT||DAILY STEVIA AMOUNT||Daily DROPS/TSP AMOUNT|
|120 lbs/54 kg||216 mg||130 drops/1.3 tsp|
|130 lbs/58.5 kg||234 mg||140 drops/1.4 tsp|
|140 lbs/63 kg||252 mg||160 drops/1.6 tsp|
|150 lbs/67.5 kg||270 mg||170 drops/1.7 tsp|
That’s a lot of stevia.
Because stevia is 200 times sweeter than traditional sugar, it doesn’t take much stevia to sweeten foods and beverages.
Tip: If you ever use stevia and don’t like the taste, it’s probably because you used too much. When you use the right amount, you taste only added sweetness.
How to Use Stevia Safely
Less is more. When stevia is used properly, you ingest very little which makes it extremely safe.
Stevia is great for sweetening drinks or to add a touch of sweetness to savory dishes like marinara sauce or Pad Thai.
Start with one drop and work your way up. If you sense a bitter taste, you’ve used too much. You’ll soon know the exact amount in your favorite drinks and meals.
General Stevia Usage Guide
This table shows how much stevia to use in common drinks and dishes:
|FOODS||AMOUNT OF STEVIA|
|Fruit Smoothie||5-10 drops|
|Green Smoothie||2-3 drops|
|Sweet Tea or Lemonade||2-5 drops|
|Homemade Marinara||2-3 drops|
|Orange Chicken with Honey (use half the original sweetener)||10-15 drops|
|Baked Goods when cutting dry sweetener in half||10-20 drops|
Usually savory dishes need 1-3 drops and sweet foods need anywhere from 5-20 drops.
As you cut out processed sugar, your sweetness “threshold” decreases which helps control cravings. This also allows you to desire less stevia.
Baking with Stevia
Baking with stevia can be tricky. A little won’t give the results you’re looking for and a lot can give food that bitter stevia aftertaste.
The best way to use stevia when baking is to mix it with another sweetener. 10-20 drops of stevia boost sweetness and allows you to cut other sweeteners in half.
Experiment to find the best flavor balance.
Mixing erythritol with stevia gives you the best of both worlds as long as erythritol doesn’t bother your digestion.
Not only will it makes your recipes sugar-free, but it keeps dry ingredients close to the original recipe amount.
Is Stevia the Healthiest Sugar Substitute?
To sum up, reasonable amounts of pure stevia make it an exceptional natural plant-based sugar substitute.
Consuming stevia-sweetened foods and beverages all day could be a problem. Usually, if you don’t have a sensitivity to stevia it’s safer to consume than sugar or other artificial sweeteners.
In fact, in a fundamental study, stevia extract was given in higher doses to see if it could treat and prevent diabetes. While more research needs to be done, early results were promising.
Likewise, it‘s always important to listen to your body and be aware of how foods make you feel.
If you ever suspect an ingredient is causing you discomfort, remove it from your diet for a week and then re-introduce it.
Food sensitivities are real. What works for most, may not work for you.
Why All the Scare About Stevia and Gut Health?
Ultimately, any time a natural alternative can replace a food manufacturer’s moneymaker like artificial sweeteners, then it can expect some push back and investigation.
When a small seed of doubt causes you to distrust and question healthy foods or herbs, big business wins.
First of all, stevia has sweetened food for centuries. Currently, Korea, Japan, China, and many parts of South America use stevia regularly.
Medical News Today reports, “While several studies have identified potential side effects of stevia over the last few decades, most were done using laboratory animals, and many have since been disproved.”
Unlike the low-calorie synthetic sweeteners, stevia is quite safe, non-toxic, and non-mutagenic.
Final Thoughts on Stevia
In a word, sugar is addictive. Your brain doesn’t crave stevia like sugar.
In fact, this study found that stevia can reduce hunger.
Stevia is an impressive alternative to sugar. It can satisfy sweet cravings which helps you conquer bad sugar habits and addictions.
Regardless, making junk food sugar-free doesn’t make it healthy. Always watch your consumption of highly processed, appetite-stimulating foods even if they’re sugar-free.
When used to kick sugar cravings or to boost sweetness in whole foods, stevia is your safest sugar alternative.
I’m curious, have you tried stevia? What were your results?
Thank you for being here and chatting with me about all things health. Health journeys are made more fun when shared, so be sure to leave a comment below. ❤️
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