Stevia can be a useful sweetener when fighting Candida overgrowth, but it does have some limitations that those on the Candida diet should be aware of.
First of all, Stevia comes from the leaves of a plant that grows in South America and Stevioside is the main ingredient in Stevia that makes it taste sweet. It tastes a bit like artificial sweetener to me, but overall it’s pleasant.
People in South America have been using Stevia for years for its sweet taste and in Japan they have been using it for some time to pickle things like ginger. Stevia has virtually no calories so it won’t feed Candida, however, that doesn’t mean Stevia should be used to sweeten everything.
The FDA was slow to approve Stevia for use as a food product because there wasn’t much evidence for its safety in large quantities. No one would argue that it’s harmless if only a few drops are used a day, but when it comes to consuming large quantities it could have some side effects. In a couple of studies performed on rats, large doses of Stevioside caused fertility problems in male rats and in another study it interfered with the way rat’s cells converted food into energy and how carbohydrates were absorbed.
A couple of years ago the FDA did approve it and now there are several commercial Stevia based products on the market. However, these products are often refined stevia and full of additives like maltodextrin to make them seem more like sugar. Maltodextrin is a starch that is quickly broken down to glucose so it could potentially feed Candida. Some are also combined with sugar alcohols which also aren’t beneficial in eliminating Candida yeast.
The Stevia Verdict
I think using a few drops of natural stevia extract from time to time is fine for people on a Candida diet. However, using large quantities of stevia probably isn’t a good idea. Stevia shouldn’t be used as an excuse to eat things like muffins, cakes, cookies, etc. just because the sugar has been replaced with Stevia.
When shopping for Stevia, the liquid variety is probably the best bet and check the ingredients to make sure it’s all natural and as pure as possible.