Although sugar has such a bad name and commonly has negative effects on our system, we have to keep in mind that our brains, muscles and all cells NEED glucose in order to function. Our brains use ~30% of the glucose we take in. Glucose is our fuel.
Click "Read More" to read on about how sweeteners affect athletes, diabetics and people who use them in meal replacements.
For those using stevia-sweetened drinks to replenish yourself after exercise, make sure you read this! After you work out your blood sugar is going to be really low. If you have a drink with stevia, instead of sugar, your body is going to think that you’re giving it glucose and start to feel a bit better. The problem is the glucose we create from stevia is never absorbed into our bloodstream! Our tongues perceive sweetness and secrete insulin regardless of whether we turn stevia into glucose further down our digestive tract. This is bringing you further into hypoglycemia.
I recommend stevia, just like most things, in moderation. If you’re constantly consuming stevia-based drinks you’re going to be playing games with your pancreas and setting yourself up for hypoglycemia among other issues. If you need to replenish your glucose quickly, I suggest actual glucose but hopefully you’ll be consuming complex carbohydrates and protein properly so you don’t get to that point. If you like a product that is based on stevia you could always just have a piece of fruit with it so you are getting some glucose into blood stream for that insulin to bind to.
Hypoglycemia is commonly misdiagnosed and can manifest as several different conditions. Some of these conditions are: anxiety, fatigue, nausea, headaches, seizures, palpitations, etc… for a complete list refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypoglycemia. You wouldn’t believe how many people experience hypoglycemia on a daily basis but don’t realize it. I've had several migraine, IBS, chronic fatigue and seizure patients who were actually experiencing hypoglycemia and once they avoided going into a hypoglycemic state their symptoms went away!
This topic relates to my previous blog, “Why do I wake up at night between 1am and 3am”. That graph I drew is basically the same except the cortisol isn’t going to be secreted at 3am it’s going to be secreted when you get hypoglycemic after a workout and you try to replenish glucose with stevia. You’re not preventing or treating hypoglycemia, your adrenal glands are secreting cortisol to increase your blood sugar. This will eventually lead to adrenal fatigue. The same goes for people who aren’t necessarily exercising but they are going too long between meals without eating. If you have a stevia-based drink or meal replacement and don’t eat an actual meal for more than 4-5 hours you’ll definitely go into a hypoglycemic state. Diabetics may think these stevia-based products are great for them but the combination of not getting glucose into the bloodstream and them taking insulin is bad news! Their sugar is going to get way too low and they’ll start getting the hypoglycemia effects mentioned in the Wikipedia article mentioned above.
Thanks for reading!
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Dr. Justin Gallant ND