So you’re addicted to sugar like I am, and you are committed to eliminating it from your daily diet. This could be because you want to lose weight and you know you will eliminate sugar cravings (and therefore, overeating) by eliminating the refined sugar, or you just want to have peace in your life around food. At the same time, you would like to have an alternative, just something to use if you want to sweeten your food.
The problem is that you’ve been educating yourself about the dangers of artificial sweeteners, so you also want to stay away from them in addition to all of the different forms of sugar that are out there! You’re feeling a little frustrated because even though you know that you’ll still be having sweets in your life in the form of fresh fruits, you were hoping to have some kind of alternate sweetener to use once in a while.
Well, here’s a question for you, the same question that I’ve received most often from the smart readers of Fearless Fat Loss: “Have you heard of Stevia?” It might just be exactly what you’ve been looking for.
Stevia is an herbal sweetener derived from a shrub indigenous to South America. The shrub is a member of the chrysanthemum family and a leaf from it is called Stevia rebaundiana bertoni. It’s from the leaves that the sweetener commonly known as Stevia is derived. You can purchase it in either a granulated white powder form or as a liquid, and that extract (stevioside) is 100 – 300 times sweeter than sugar. Therefore, a little goes a long way.
What’s interesting to me is that many people haven’t heard of Stevia. Why? Because even though it’s been used by humans for 100’s of years and is currently being used as a sweetener in South America (since the 1500’s they’ve used the leaf to sweeten their tea), Japan (since 1970), South Korea, China, Thailand, and New Zealand, the FDA doesn’t allow it to be sold in America as a sweetener, only as a dietary supplement (since 1995). They claim that there has not been sufficient evidence provided to demonstrate its safety even though there are no health complaints or health detriments reported from all of those people who are regularly using Stevia as a sweetener in the countries I listed above.
What is even more interesting is that there have been so many claims of health dangers associated with the use of Aspartame (Nutra Sweet) and even Sucralose (Splenda), as well as refined sugar, but the FDA sanctions all of these products. This leads into another topic that I want to get into, but for now, let’s stick to what I’ve learned about Stevia:
- It is used in other industrialized countries outside of America as a sweetener in place of non-nutritional, addictive sugar, or artificial sweeteners and no harmful effects have been reported.
- Japan has been importing Stevia from Paraguay since 1970, using it to sweeten beverages and other processed foods with the same regularity that high fructose corn syrup, crystalline fructose, and refined sugar are used to sweeten beverages and processed foods in America.
- Stevia isn’t giving the Japanese (or the other people using it) the health problems that the corn sugars, refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners are giving their consumers.
- Stevia has been successfully grown in the U.S. (no excuses then, we wouldn’t have to import it) and besides China is also being grown in Malaysia and South Korea, where it is also used as a sweetener.
- Stevia is an herb, a plant, it is not an artificial, man-made sweetener, however it does go through processing to create the powder or liquid form.
- Stevia is currently only allowed to be sold in America as a food supplement but not as a sweetener (since 1995).
- On the other end you can find the argument that Stevia causes male reproductive problems, cancer, and metabolic issues in laboratory animals, however these issues have not been proven or reported in humans.
Furthermore, I find it very interesting that the FDA has been petitioned regarding Stevia 3 times since 1989, and according to the CSPI (Center For Science In The Public Interest), none of these documents are posted on the FDA’s website. I searched the FDA site myself for “Stevia petition” and didn’t find the petition that the CSPI linked to from their site, however I did find something on the FDA’s site re: Stevia which is even more interesting: An Open Statement Concerning The Artificial Sweetener, Aspartame by Arthur M. Evangelista, a former FDA Investigator. In this statement, the former FDA investigator states that Aspartame is a neurotoxin and that the only reason Stevia was outlawed was to keep the artificial sweeteners in business. Here is an excerpt:
….Stevia which got outlawed for no reason except to keep consumers using the toxin aspartame. There are at least 500 studies on Stevia showing safety and you can contact the Stevita Company in Dallas, Texas, Oscar Rodes (petro |at| mindspring.com). The actual consumption by humans without a single report of undesired side effects over a long period of time (30 years in Japan, 15 years in Brazil in the extract form, and centuries in Paraguay and Brazil on the leaves form) demonstrates that the product is safe for its intended use – that is as a sweetener.
I got chills reading this document and even though it is lengthy, I strongly suggest that you read it. I cannot quote the entire document and it does get into another topic (Aspartame), however the statement by the former FDA Investigator Arthur M. Evangelista can give you immense motivation to get off of Aspartame even if you’re not motivated to use Stevia.
I started this article with the intention that I wanted to give you the benefits of Stevia and the fact that there aren’t any known health issues related to it, at least there haven’t been any in 30 years of use in Japan, or since the 1500′s in Paraguay (LOL!!). However, after finding that statement from the former FDA Investigator, this reinforces one of my main messages that I wish to convey here at Fearless Fat Loss: those tasty boxed, bagged, and/or frozen convenience foods are full of stuff (uh, crap IMHO) that the body wasn’t built to ingest and they are not going to help you either lose weight or live in optimum health.
You just cannot rely on the FDA or the government to take care of you, you must educate yourself and also listen to your own body. Your body will tell you that corn sugars, refined sugars, and Aspartame aren’t good for you if you give it a chance to. Just because the refined sugars and other chemicals don’t kill you immediately doesn’t mean that they aren’t wreaking havoc with your system and your health, not to mention your weight.
Learn more about the dangers of artificial sweeteners and advantages of Stevia in Dr. Mercola’s book, Sweet Deception:
Learn more about the dangers of refined sugar in the books Sugar Shock! (contains info on advantages of Stevia, too) and Sugar Blues: