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Does stevia have any side effects?

Stevia is a no-nutritive or zero calorie sweetener composed of steviol glycosides.These are compounds extracted and refined from the leaves of the plant stevia rebaudiana.

Many people choose to replace sugar with stevia to reduce their calorie intake. In this article, we examine the potential risks and side effects associated with this natural sweetener.

Risks and side effects

According to the FDA, the acceptable daily intake of stevia glycosides is 4 milligrams (mg) per kilogram of body weight.

When used as a sweetener or to flavour foods, experts do not consider highly purified stevia to cause adverse effects.

Although several studies have identified potential side effects of stevia in recent decades, most have been conducted with laboratory animals and many have since been refuted.

Potential side effects related to stevia consumption include:

Renal lesions

Stevia is considered a diuretic, which means it increases the rate at which the body expels water and electrolytes from the body into the urine. Because the kidney is responsible for filtration and urine creation, the researchers first thought that long-term use of stevia could damage the organ.

More recent studies, however, have concluded that stevia can help prevent kidney damage. A 2013 study in a laboratory found that stevia reduced cyst growth in renal cells.

Several studies using rodent and human cell cultures have demonstrated the potential gastrointestinal benefits of steviol glycosides.The use of stevia has been shown to limit and reduce diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.

Allergic reaction

According to a 2015 study, very few cases of stevia allergy have been reported. Both the FDA and the European Commission have concluded that the number of people with hypersensitivity to stevia or at risk of having an allergic reaction to stevia is low.

Hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia

Although stevia may help control blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, it was also thought that high or prolonged consumption of stevia could cause hypoglycemia or hypoglycemia.

Since then, this has been shown to be highly unlikely, except in people with abnormally low blood sugar.

Low blood pressure

Stevia is known to act as a vasodilator, causing enlargement of blood vessels and a decrease in overall blood pressure. Currently, the researchers have only explored the potentially positive aspects of this use.

Anything that actively lowers blood pressure can lead to health complications from excessive and prolonged use. People with chronic low blood pressure should consult a physician about the prolonged use of stevia.

Endocrine disturbance

As a type of steroid, sterviol glycosides can interfere with endocrine-controlled hormones. A 2016 study found that progesterone production was increasing in human sperm exposed to sterviol.

Who shouldn’t use stevia?

People taking drugs that may interact with stevia should consult a physician before consuming stevia-based products.

Some people are at increased risk of developing side effects following regular use of stevia. In fact, stevia can lower blood sugar and blood pressure and act as a diuretic.

Stevia can also interact with some medications, so it is important to discuss stevia with a doctor before you use or buy the product.

By Jennifer Huizen – October 27, 2017