Stevia generally is a substitute for sugar and is obtained from the leaves of candy leaf/sugar leaf plants. The leaves of these plants contain the active compounds of steviol glycosides, which is believed to be 30-150 times sweeter than sugar. It is widely popular in the world as a natural substitute for sugar and many are ditching the artificial sweeteners for stevia. It is also known as a non-nutritive sweetener, as it contains almost no calories.
A pinch of stevia powder may be used in your daily usage of tea or coffee in place of a teaspoon of sugar. You can use in your favourite beverages and foods which include coffee or tea, homemade lemonade, hot or cold cereal, and unsweetened yogurt. You can also use stevia while you are baking. But however, not all brands of stevia are made for baking and it may leave a licorice aftertaste in the mouth.
Now, the issue for the digestion of these plants into the human body and stevia’s effect on metabolism is an issue that needs to be highlighted. In general, while digesting sugar, the human pancreas secretes insulin in order to break down the molecules so that the sugar level in the blood is kept in check. But stevia metabolism is way different. The steviol glycosides pass unchanged through the body all way down the intestine and are then removed in stages by hydrolysis and the formation of steviol.
It is transported to the blood through the liver. It then reacts with glucuronic acid to form steviol glucuronide which ends up in the kidney and is eliminated from the body finally through urine. So, in a way, no steviol glycoside is stored inside our body. So, it is evident that stevia metabolism in the human body is simple and it does not harm the body by any means. It also has health benefits like promoted insulin production and stops unnatural obesity as opposed to sugar. Stevia also keeps the blood sugar level of your body in check.
In a recent study, it has been found that stevia may play a role in fighting and preventing some types of cancer. A glycoside named stevioside is responsible for cancerous cell death in human breast cancer. It also decreases some mitochondrial pathways which help in the growth of cancer. The glycoside is also proven to be toxic to specific lines of lung, stomach, and leukemia.
So, stevia’s effect on metabolism is minimal and it has minimal side effects. Products of stevia made with Reb-A are rendered as safe even for pregnant and diabetic people. It shall also be remembered that it is much sweeter than sugar, so you may not have to use it in everything. It has been extensively researched in various fields and it is proven to be non-harmful for human stevia digestion. However, if you wish to use it regularly, you may need to have your doctor’s approval. Especially if you have serious medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.