Endocrinology-Diabetes Questions Diabetes

Is Stevia okay for diabetics?

I have been a diabetic for the last 4 years and I have been taking Stevia with my tea and coffee. I read a recent article that mentioned Stevia can be harmful when consumed for a long time with diabetes. Is it true? Would brown sugar be a healthier replacement?

4 Answers

Small amounts of Stevia are safe to use in diabetes; they can assist in sugar metabolism; however, it is safest to limit its use and avoid the sweet tooth feeling which can lead to excess use and weight gain
Brown sugar or any other natural sugar is not good for diabetic since it causes sudden rise in blood glucose and in the long run can cause damage to the small and large vessels resulting in cardiovascular disease, kidney, eye and nerve damage.
Stevia is an extract from a plant grown in Africa (although can be grown in your own garden). It has been used in Africa for hundreds of years and has no known bad effects. There are always articles appearing in the literature to debase artificial sweeteners. You need to know the source of this literature. There are no good scientific studies to say that any of the artificial sweeteners, including Stevia are harmful. If there was evidence that they were harmful, the FDA would pull them from the market. Brown sugar is unrefined sugar and is no different in its effects in people with diabetes than white sugar. It should be avoided just as white or refined sugar. The problem with any sugar is that they are empty calories and are quickly absorbed so give a rapid rise in blood glucose. They are OK to treat low sugar, but not good for everyday control or wt. maintenance.
Great question and thank you for asking!

Diabetes is an issue of glucose excess, insulin resistance, or insulin deficiency.

Regardless of the type of diabetes, the ultimate is elevated sugar in the bloodstream that causes havoc/inflammation. Hence, sugar/carbohydrate/glucose excess should be avoided. Enter many sugar alternatives like Stevia, Equal, Splenda, Truvia, etc.

I recommend that my diabetic patients use artificial sweeteners if they HAVE to have it in their food/drink. Most patients hate the idea of switching from regular soda to diet, but for a diabetic any sugar is like FUEL ON A FIRE.

In most cases, fructose/glucose /sugar excess should be avoided (except low sugar aka hypoglycemia).

The debate on the harms of our artificial sweeteners is ongoing. As it stands, these are less harmful to you than excess sugar (aka brown sugar). For those that look online, you'll find tons of "research" against Stevia and other artificial sweeteners. Those that dive deeper will find this is typically political or money-driven.

In the end, use everything in moderation. For diabetics, use artificial sweeteners if you must. This is preferred over straight sugar, including brown sugar. Do not fall into the branding trap of "natural" and "organic". These are branding tactics only. If you want a 100% safe answer, drink water and unsweetened drinks.

Hopefully this helps guide you.