Today, there are millions of obese men and women around the globe suffering from metabolic syndrome due to the overconsumption of refined sugars and artificial sweeteners. Almost every packaged food displayed in stores, groceries and supermarkets are either loaded with refined sugars or artificial sweeteners like aspartame. Many health experts and institutions believed that the sugar madness is driving metabolic syndrome globally.
Moreover, the sweetener employed in most sodas, the high fructose corn syrup1 has played a role in the rising rate of obesity. Another bad news, sugar is as addictive as drugs, and UCSF obesity expert call sugar a poison.
With these facts, many people are starting to look for alternative sweeteners that are safe and do not cause a spike of insulin when consumed. There are two sweeteners that are great alternatives to typical sugars and artificial sweeteners, Stevia and Xylitol. But, before we look at them closely, know that it is somewhat very difficult to avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners these days. Aside from being present on the majority of packaged foods, there are many names of sugars, which is difficult for most people to recognize.
Stevia and Xylitol, although both can be found in nature, they’re considered artificial sweeteners. What’s unique about these two sweeteners is that they contain no actual sugar. This makes both Stevia and Xylitol are excellent alternative sweeteners for people who have diabetes and even those individuals who are in the process of losing weight.
What Is Stevia?
Stevia is a native plant of South America, Paraguay in particular. Stevia is a herb, but it’s sweet. In fact, it’s sweeter than the typical table sugar, sucrose. The Latin name is Stevia rebaudiana. This herb has been used for centuries as a sweetener by the local people on their teas, as well as used in making medicines. Although stevia is many times sweeter than ordinary table sugar, it is calorie-free.
The kind of stevia sweetener you’ll find in stores is processed making it ready for the table anytime you want to use it. However, stevia is easy to grow and you can make your own homemade stevia sweetener either in powdered or liquid form.
Acceptable Daily Intake For Stevia?
Just as with anything like the typical table sugar and various other processed sweets, there are certain limits because it becomes unhealthy and can cause various health conditions in the long run when consumed in large amount. Fortunately, stevia has a very high limit, and it is almost impossible for someone to go beyond the limits in which experts find stevia to have a bad effect. In other words, stevia can be consumed virtually in high amount without triggering side effects.
What Is Xylitol?
Now that you have a quick overview about Stevia, let’s get into Xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that’s naturally occurring candies, gums, toothpaste, etc. It is extracted from a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. However, most modern extraction and production of Xylitol comes from corncobs. This is the central or core part of the corn where the corn kernels are attached to.
Unlike Stevia which is calorie-free, Xylitol contains around 30% calorie. However, the calorie contains may not be as bad as the calorie contain found table sugars and artificial sweeteners.
The Side Effects
Unlike Stevia that has been found safe and no side effects, Xylitol on the other hand, has some controversies. Generally, Xylitol is well-tolerated on most people, but there are some who experience digestive irregularities as a side effect of using Xylitol. Remember Xylitol is a sugar alcohol? Well, sugar alcohol pulled water into the gut and fermented by the gut bacteria resulting to bloating, gas and loose stool or diarrhea.
On the other hand, the body is able to adjust with Xylitol intake. Therefore, for first-time users, it is a good idea to start a small amount and gradually ramp up the amount allowing the body to adapt. In doing so, there’s a good chance the side effects mentioned won’t occur.
One more thing to point out on Xylitol especially when it’s extracted from corn cobs is that corn these days especially in the United States, is genetically modified. Otherwise, if the corn is sourced from other countries like Europe or Japan and/or other countries that banned GMO, that’s a different story. Note that, there are prominent health experts like Dr. Stephen Phinney who uses Xylitol as his choice of sweetener.