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Stevia in Naru Revive

Why do we have Stevia in Naru Revive?


Stevia is a plant-based sweetener that we use alongside natural flavours in our Naru Revive electrolyte drink mix to bring a unique balance of delicious salt, sweet and sharpness. I can already feel the fasting purists turning their nose up at the thought of using a sweetener during their fast! Maybe reserve judgement until you have read this article as not all sweeteners are made equal.


What is Stevia?


Stevia is a plant native to Brazil and Paraguay. The leaves of this plant have been used by indigenous people for centuries in medicines and to sweeten drinks such as maté, a green herbal tea.


The plant was first brought to the attention of the rest of the world by the botanist Moises Santiago Bertoni in 1887, its properties from the Paraguayan Indians.



In 1931 when 2 French chemists, Bridel and Lavielle , isolated stevioside, a primary steviol glycoside from stevia leaves. This chemical characterisation of the natural constituents of the plant (steviol glycosides) are responsible for its distinct sweet taste.


The taste was refined over time due to the presence of essential oils, tannins, and flavonoids in the crude extracts was partly responsible for some of the off tastes; hence, efforts were made to purify extracts and chemically characterize steviol glycosides.


Some clever chemistry allows the glycosides to be extracted and made into the ZERO calorie sweetener we know today as Stevia.


The active glycosides within the stevia leaf include:

  • Stevioside

  • Rebaudioside A

  • Rebaudioside C

  • Dulcoside 3

These 4 active glycosides that pack a sweet punch compared common table sugar. They are around 50 to 350 times sweeter than table sugar and therefore you don’t need a lot stevia to sweeten your coffee!

Does Stevia Break Your Fast?


Before we dive into this, I must dispel a rather large misconception around breaking fasts:

Food doesn’t have to have calories to break a fast and conversely, not all calories will break a fast”

If a sweetener contains any form of amino acids it can stimulate the mTOR growth pathway which inevitably inhibits autophagy and throws your longevity benefits out the window of your hard earned fast. However, ingesting around 15kcal will not usually interfere with your fast.

To decide whether Stevia breaks a fast or not depends on three different criteria:

  1. Does it contribute to a negative blood glucose/insulin response?

  2. Does it activate your digestive system?

  3. Does it trigger growth pathways that would turn off autophagy?

Does Stevia contribute to a negative blood glucose/insulin response?


Stevia may contribute to superior insulin and blood sugar levels. Stevia does appear to have blood-sugar lowering properties, but it isn’t a diabetics get of jail free card. Stevia can also perform differently in HIGH and LOW sugar environments.


During hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar concentrations) stevioside stimulates insulin release from the pancreas and this in turn LOWERS blood sugar. But In vitro studies have shown Stevia not to have the same insulin stimulating response when the blood sugar is in normal ranges


Does Stevia activate your digestive system?


Stevia does not inhibit ketosis – your ability to burn fat!


The absorption, metabolism, and excretion of steviol glycosides have been extensively reviewed by multiple scientific authorities and experts, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and recently by Magnuson et al.


Steviol glycosides pass through undigested in the upper gastrointestinal tract. They are broken down, only when they encounter microbiota in the colon, they cleave the glycosidic linkages, removing the sugar moieties, leaving behind the steviol backbone.


The released sugar moieties are not absorbed and are most likely quickly utilized by the gut microbes as an energy source, thus making it a zero-calorie sweetener.


Why does this matter? If you are fasting to improve gut health, then gut rest is important, especially at night when your circadian rhythm schedules in gut repair.

Does it trigger growth pathways that would turn off autophagy? Stevia is zero-calorie and protein-free which suggests is will have no impact on autophagy, so panic over, you can use Stevia if you are fasting goals are autophagy and longevity.

In Summary:

  1. Does Stevia contribute to a negative blood glucose/insulin response? – No

  2. Does Stevia activate your digestive system? - No

  3. Does Stevia trigger growth pathways that would turn off autophagy? - No

What are the downsides of Stevia?


Some people find that consuming something too sweet during their fast can disrupt their appetite and drive people to overconsume in the feeding window.


However, the concern of substituting sugar with low-calorie sweeteners and whether it causes over consumption of calories has been addressed in a small study of 12 obese patients and 19 healthy people. In the study they investigated the effects of preloaded food containing stevia, aspartame, or sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels.


When consuming stevia and aspartame preloads, participants did not compensate by eating more at either their lunch or dinner meal and reported similar levels of satiety compared to when they consumed the higher calorie sucrose preload.


The safety of steviol glycosides from numerous toxicological, biological, and clinical studies has been reviewed in several publications. (2,7,8) . If you have a sweet tooth, consuming Stevia at modest doses poses little to no side effects, except potential some gastric distress.


In rodent models it has shown to impair fertility at exceedingly high doses. When these doses are translated into humans, the Acceptable Daily Intake is 4mg/kg/day. The ADI is the amount of a substance that an individual can consume daily over a lifetime without any appreciable health risk.


To reach Stevia’s ADI I would have to consume 43 sachets a day for the rest of my life!

Stevia has our thumbs up and this is why we carefully selected it to be in Naru Revive.

Stevia is a natural plant-based ZERO-calorie and PROTEIN-FREE which suggests is will have no impact on autophagy, improves blood glucose control, no impact on insulin response and does NOT activate your digestive system.


References:

  • Brandle JE, Starratt A, Gijzen M. Stevia rebaudiana: its agricultural, biological, and chemical properties. Can J Plant Sci 1998;78:527–36.

  • Carakostas MC, Curry LL, Boileau AC, Brusick DJ. Overview: the history, technical function and safety of rebaudioside A, a naturally occurring steviol glycoside, for use in food and beverages. Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46:1–10.

  • Prakash I, Dubois GE, Clos JF, Wilkens KL, Fosdick LE. Development of rebiana, a natural, non-caloric sweetener. Food Chem Toxicol 2008;46(Suppl 7):S75–82.

  • European Food Safety Authority. Scientific opinion on the safety of steviol glycosides for the proposed uses as a food additive. EFSA J 2010;8:1–84.

  • Magnuson BA, Carakostas MC, Moore NH, Poulos SP, Renwick AG. Biological fate of low-calorie sweeteners. Nutr Rev 2016;74:670–89.

  • Anton SD, Martin CK, Han H, Coulon S, Cefalu WT, Geiselman P, Williamson DA. Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite. 2010 Aug;55(1):37-43. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2010.03.009. Epub 2010 Mar 18. PMID: 20303371; PMCID: PMC2900484.

  • Momtazi-Borojeni AA, Esmaeili S-A, Abdollahi E, Sahebkar A. A review on the pharmacology and toxicology of steviol glycosides extracted from Stevia rebaudiana. Curr Pharm Des 2017;23:1616–22.

  • European Food Safety Authority. Scientific opinion on the safety of steviol glycosides for the proposed uses as a food additive. EFSA J 2010;8:1–84.

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