Why Stevia is Better for Children than Sugar – Breaking Your Children’s Sugar Addiction with Stevia
In the last thirty years doctors have seen childhood obesity quadruple, and by 2012 one third of all children were diagnosed as being overweight.
Pediatricians are currently dealing with conditions that twenty years ago they would have told you were virtually impossible. From breast cancer in young girls to cardiovascular disease, never before have our children faced such dire health consequences attributable to one main cause: Sugar!
Sugar is not the only devil in this childhood obesity equation, but it is by far the leading cause for the epidemic we face as parents. In the early 1800’s we were consuming less than ten pounds of sugar per year per person.
By the turn of the century in 2000, this amount had skyrocketed to over 100 pounds per person per year. This tenfold increase in less than two centuries has clearly marred the health of those we see around us today.
Many sugar advocates will tell you that sugar is a consumer driven market, but like cocaine, that is only half of the truth. Our need for sugar is not only driven by taste, but by addiction.
Numerous recent studies have revealed that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. In studies done on laboratory animals addicted to both substances, not only did the animals choose sweetness over cocaine but also the animals were even willing to work harder to fulfil their sweet tooth addiction, choosing sweetener or sucrose over cocaine.
We would never dream of giving our children cocaine, heroin, or other addictive narcotics, but most of us still do not hesitate to give our children a soda, sugar laden breakfast cereals, or large portions of fruit three times a day in the name of health.
These “treats” build their addiction and threaten their future, in some cases more than if we had given them an illegal narcotic.
Long term cocaine addiction has been associated with weight loss, loss of appetite, malnourishment, increases in anxiety and depression, loss of cognitive function, and other psychological effects.
Obesity has been linked to cardiovascular disease, strokes, heart attacks, sleep apnea, diabetes, early onset of puberty, cancer, arthritis, chronic inflammatory conditions, skeletal disorders, and a variety of other conditions—many of which are often life threatening.
As parents, it is our duty to protect our children and to that ensure they grow up safely. But how do you break an addiction to a substance that is virtually everywhere?
The answer lies in a blend of modern science and traditional medicine: Stevia.
Stevia – The Natural Alternative to Adding a Touch of Sweetness to Your Life
Stevia has been on the menu of the Guarani peoples of South America for over 1500 years. Leaves of the Stevia plant were used to add a touch of sweetness to teas, medicines, and as a sweet treat.
The leaves of Stevia rebaudiana contain active ingredients called steviol glycosides, and it is these ingredients that offer a natural alternative to refined sugar. The ingredients contained in Stevia are estimated to be approximately 150 times sweeter than sugar, which means you need very little extract to equal the amount of refined sugar.
The most important advantage offered by sweeteners that are made with Stevia is that it offers “empty” calories. This means that although Stevia may not help you break your children’s addiction to sugar, it can be vital in reducing their calorie intake on a daily basis. The addiction to sugar is an addiction to sweet foods, so in terms of addiction, Stevia will still feed your children’s sugar addiction but what Stevia won’t do is add to the calories that are responsible for obesity.
But before you switch one addictive ingredient for another, let’s take a look at the advantages and safety of Stevia for children.
Stevia is a Zero Calorie Sweetener
The most dangerous aspect of refined sugar is the added “empty” calories that refined sugar adds to your children’s daily dietary consumption. One packet of sugar contains 11 calories. These calories are often called “empty” because sugar offers no nutritional benefits other than glucose. Caloric intake and a lack of exercise are the leading causes of obesity in children.
Weight gain, body mass, and lack of energy can become a vicious cycle where obesity is concerned. When your children eat a diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates, blood sugar levels spike. These blood sugar spikes result in fatigue and cravings for more sugary foods because the body craves energy.
Your children’s cravings for more sugary foods lead to further sugar consumption that drives more blood sugar spikes. Fatigue and a lack of energy means your children are less likely to be active and to get the exercise they need. Lack of exercise contributes to even more weight gain along with the calories due to additional sugary foods.
Stevia offers you the opportunity to break this vicious cycle by reducing calorie intake and therefore potentially supporting weight loss. If you have ever tried to withhold a treat from your children then you will know that Stevia is a great way to reduce caloric intake painlessly without having a mutiny on your hands.
Stevia not only reduces calorie intake but may in fact help to reduce the blood sugar spikes that result in cravings and fatigue. In a study published in Metabolism, researchers showed that the consumption of Stevia actually reduced postprandial blood glucose levels.
Stevia and Insulin Levels
Obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are all characterized by higher insulin levels, and in most cases, insulin resistance.
Stevia does not only offer a zero calorie natural alternative to refined sugar consumption but may actually offer other benefits in terms of insulin resistance.
In one study, researchers discovered that the consumption of Stevia resulted in lower blood glucose levels and lowered insulin levels when compared with aspartame and sucralose. Participants in this study did not eat more at lunch or dinner to compensate for the loss of calories.
Obesity, Cardiovascular Disease, and Stevia
Obesity severely increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The additional weight directly affects blood pressure in obese individuals. Added body mass also places a strain on the heart since the heart must pump harder to ensure the entire body is served by the circulatory system.
Once again, obesity and cardiovascular disease can become a vicious cycle. The heart is a muscle and exercise is vital for supporting and maintaining muscle health. The more obese a person is the less likely they are to exercise and this creates further complications for the cardiovascular system.
Stevia once again can help you to break the cycle. A reduction of calories supports weight loss, which in turn supports the ability and the motivation to exercise more. And again, Stevia may offer more than just weight loss support for cardiovascular complications.
Stevia has been used for more than twenty years in countries like Japan and research on Stevia has been done for decades in this country.
In a two-year random placebo controlled trial, patients with mild high blood pressure were given 500 mg of stevioside powder three times a day in capsule form. At the end of the two-year period patients had lower blood pressure, higher quality of life, and no significant side effects were reported.
Obesity, Inflammation, and Stevia
Although inflammation is not a condition in and of itself, it does warrant attention since inflammation is often one of the underlying causes of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Inflammation is the natural process the body relies on to ensure our wounds heal quickly and effectively. When you are wounded, inflammation occurs and prepares the wounded area for healing.
The body was not built to deal with constant and consistent minor damage. Some scientists argue that increases in blood glucose levels result in low grade damage to the circulatory system and the rest of the body. This low grade damage results in low grade, chronic, and systemic inflammation, and this increases body fat storage and increases the risk of obesity. Other scientists believe that insulin resistance results in abdominal fat storage, chronic low grade inflammation, and higher risks of obesity.
Irrespective of the actual underlying mechanisms, most scientists now agree that a diet high in refined sugars increases inflammation and obesity and the diseases associated with these conditions.
In a study published in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Steviosides were found to offer some anti-inflammatory benefits.
Stevia – A Natural, Healthier Alternative to Sugar
Supporting your children’s sugar addiction may cost them dearly in later life in terms of their health and their quality of life.
Stevia may not help them kick the sugar addiction, but it may help them reduce calories and therefore give them a chance to break out of the cycles that fuel obesity.
As parents we try to do the best for our children. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the joy on your children’s faces when you give them a treat. Now those treats don’t have to potentially cost them their life or their future health. There are thousands of recipes that use Stevia instead of sugar. More and more consumer products offer this alternative as a healthier option instead of sugar. Thanks to Stevia, life has never been sweeter for you and your children.
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