Stevia is a smart tool to manage diabetes.
Diabetes is a chronic disease that is on the rise across the globe, and change that can be traced back to rapid increases in overweight, obesity and physical inactivity. According to the WHO, 1 in 11 people has diabetes worldwide, and it’s predicted to be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.
For the 422 million people worldwide who are living with diabetes or have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, good nutrition is perhaps one of the most important factors in achieving good health.
Stevia can be a healthy and appropriate option for those with diabetes, one that means they don’t have to give up their favorite foods or beverages. That’s because stevia is a zero-calorie, plant-based sweetener of natural origin that has been used for hundreds of years.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics as well as the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association support the use of low-calorie or non-nutritive sweeteners, including stevia, in helping to reduce added sugar intake, thereby assisting in decreasing caloric intake and weight control.
Studies, including results from the Maki, et al. trial highlighted below, have shown that stevia contains no carbohydrates and does not independently affect blood sugar or insulin levels. It also has no effect on glycosylated hemoglobin, and no negative effect on fasting blood glucose, or insulin.
Furthermore, A systematic review in 2019 looked at nine randomized controlled trials to evaluate the effectiveness of steviol glycosides on human health, particularly type 2 diabetic biomarkers. The review found a non-significant reduction in favor of stevia of BMI, diastolic blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol as well as a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure.
Based on the substantial evidence it is clear that stevia safety in those with diabetes is wells studied and robustly documented.
Beyond demonstrating safety, use of stevia in those with diabetes has show early signs of benefit in insulin and glucose response.
A published study from 2019 was the first to demonstrate a direct effect of steviol glucuronide on insulin secretion. The study showed that steviol glucuronide stimulates insulin secretion from isolated mouse islets of Langerhans, the hormone-producing regions of cells in the pancreas. This effect was shown to be dose-dependent on the concentration of steviol glucuronide and glucose in the blood. The authors were able to suggest that steviol glucuronide is the main active metabolite after oral administration of steviol glycosides and is a potential antidiabetic agent.
Research shows that stevia helps blunt glucose spikes. Stevia demonstrated a reduction compared to Sugar and showed statistically significant improvement over Aspartame. A study of both lean and obese subjects showed that consumption of stevia as part of a preload meal significantly reduced postprandial insulin and glucose levels compared to sucrose and Aspartame.
Beyond safety, stevia can now be a proactive tool in helping people with diabetes manage their condition.