How is stevia handled by the body?
You might be asking—”What can Stevia do to my body?”
Let’s make this clear—Sugar and Stevia are metabolized differently in the human body.
First, this is how sugar is broken down in our bodies: while sugar is digested, the pancreas produces insulin to break it down which keeps blood sugar levels in control. For diabetes patients, this is a problem due to a deficiency in insulin production, which leads to insufficient digestion of sugar that causes high blood sugar levels.
Stevia metabolized differently. Our body doesn’t react to Stevia as it does with sucrose from sugar so there is no insulin production. Steviol glycoside compounds in Stevia are not absorbed intact.
Once consumed, they go through the upper gastrointestinal tract, including the stomach and small intestines fully intact. Once it reaches the large intestine, the colonic bacteria will remove all of the glucose units, leaving only the backbone, steviol. Steviol is absorbed into the body, quickly modified in the liver, and ends up in the kidneys—excreted in the urine as steviol glucuronide.
This, primarily, is the reason why Stevia has zero calories and does not raise blood glucose or insulin levels. It also explains why stevia leaf extract (pure stevia) is safe for everyone to use, including pregnant women and children. The European Food Safety Authority and the World Health Organization both say these compounds are safe in the amounts typically used.
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