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The Performance Life

A Shift in the Sugar Landscape

Will Ellis / flickr

Here's some sweet news: A natural, no-calorie sweetener called stevia, which is currently found in dietary supplement form, may soon be used in products. Coming off a report that splenda can decrease gut bacteria and change the pH of stool, stevia could fast become a popular alternative to chemically derived non-caloric sweeteners.

I heard the news about the soon-to-be-approved stevia while I was in the Dominican. Down here I’ve seen more sugar used on a daily basis than I ever have in the States, because they actually make everything from scratch.

Oddly enough, that increased sugar use does not coincide with the visible evidence of obesity that is seen in the US. Maybe because in the Dominican no one goes to the store to pick up a tub of Sunny D. The cook is in the kitchen squeezing the oranges and then adding a frightening amount of the white stuff.

So what do you need to know about stevia? It's 200 times sweeter than sugar and it naturally tricks the body into getting something sweet without the calories.

Sounds great, right?

Don’t be fooled into thinking a diet coke made with stevia is suddenly the world’s perfect health drink. Natural foods and drinks with minimal amounts of added sugar are best—drink water and unsweetened tea most of the time.

Now, would I consider switching to stevia if it was at starbucks? Absolutely. Do I think it’s the answer we’re looking for to control weight and obesity? No. Eat cleaner, move more, eat less. That’s the answer. This may be one new piece of the puzzle.

Tags: Weight Loss, Food