Health and Wellness

Stevia anyone?


In an effort to keep our postings relevent and informative, our newest team member, Janedoh, has composed an article that is something I think our readers will definitely appreciate.  People with Type I and II Diabetes espcially, may find this information very useful.  As with all of our postings, we advise everyone to always do their own research with any information that we provide.  The fun stuff and music is one thing, but the more serious things we put forth is quite another.  We are confident in what we provide, but no one here is an expert.  We read, research and research again before it’s posted.  So a special thanks, Janedoh for your insightful and well researched piece!  Again, welcome to the “Why O Why” Family!


I am always on the look out for what’s new and better in the health world. Not because I am a certified health nut who finds herself camped out at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods but rather because I am certified junk food junkie who needs to kick her habit. This is further cemented when I look at my mom who has type2 diabetes. So in an effort to help her with her diabetes and cut back on my own sugar intake, I stumbled across an article that mentioned Stevia.  I have never liked the idea of my mom being so reliant on products like Equal or Sweet & Low because of the bad rap aspartame has received over the years. So when I found Stevia I thought, wow how come we all didn’t know about this before?

A little back story: Stevia is a non-caloric herb that is indigenous to South and Central America.  Spanish Conquistadors came across Stevia in the 1600’s after learning that Guarani and Mato Grasso Indians used it as a sweetener in their teas and medicines. After Stevia was officially “discovered” by botanist Dr. Santiago Bertoni, word began to spread about it and it was even brought to the attention of the U.S government in 1918, but was not pursued. (Hmmm.)  Fast forwarding again, the U.S has passed on Stevia but Japan began to use it commercially. In 1970 Japan approved Stevioside to be used as a flavor enhancer in food products. It is now reported that Stevioside has taken over 50% of the Japanese market, since it is used in everything from breads, pastries, soft drinks and toothpaste.  Japan currently consumes more Stevia than any other country.

Again, I have to wonder why the U.S is giving this herb so much flak when we live in a country where obesity and conditions that are related to obesity (type 2 diabetes anyone?) is on the rise?  Wouldn’t you think that our government would leap on a product that has no known side affects, that has been in use for thousands of years and is used commercially by other countries with great success?  In 1991 the FDA issued an “Import Alert” for Stevia and all related Stevia products calling them “unsafe food additives.”  There have been many protests and congressional hearings since Stevia was banned. Finally in 1995, the Dietary Supplement Health Education Act forced the FDA to revise its stance on Stevia.  In the end, the FDA agreed to selling Stevia in the states as long as it was sold as a dietary supplement.

Now, thankfully, Stevia can be purchased at most health food stores and some major grocery stores.  But why was so much energy spent on blocking this? Is our government really looking into our best interest or was this simply a product war between Aspartame and Stevia? I do have to say that we should all take a little time to learn about the stuff that we are putting into our bodies.  Also, we need to understand that not all things can be taken at face value but to do a little research ourselves.  Research is free but doctor visits are not.  So here’s to your health, everyone!  Janedoh

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