One of the hardest parts when healing from chronic illness is finding substitutes for all your favorite foods, especially if you have a sweet tooth. We live in an age where sugar is so readily available that it’s even found in foods that you wouldn’t expect to have sugar. Make sure you read your food labels because sugar comes in many forms (dextrose, fructose, glucose, etc). It is critical to reduce your sugar intake because it becomes a psychological addiction.
Two of the sweeteners I use on a regular basis are stevia and xylitol. They won’t feed my candida and Lyme disease while taking care of my sweet tooth.
Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is found in raspberries, oats, mushrooms, and lots of other common foods. However, the xylitol you find in the store is usually derived from corn or birch bark. Just make sure the corn that is used is non-GMO. It will state on the package whether or not it is.
- Xylitol is low glycemic and doesn’t raise your blood sugar like regular sugar
- Xylitol is good for your teeth because it doesn’t feed bacteria in your mouth like regular sugar
- Xylitol is an alkalizing agent which means it decreases acidity in the body. Alkalinity is not good for bacteria, because it cannot grow in that condition. Therefore, xylitol has been long praised for its ability to wipe out bacterial infections and colonies of all kinds throughout the body.
- It is easy to find a brand of Xylitol that is derived from non-GMO corn
- Xylitol contains roughly half the calories of regular sugar, and far fewer carbohydrates
- Testing of Xylitol has shown it to be very safe, and it is approved by the FDA
Cons of Xylitol
- Eating large amounts of Xylitol can lead to stomach cramps and occasional diarrhea. Symptoms typically disappear if you reduce the amount that you are using.
- Xylitol is potentially very toxic for household animals, particularly dogs. Keep your Xylitol well hidden from your pet, and call your vet immediately if they ingest it.
Stevia comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, native to Paraguay but now grown across the world. The sweetener itself comes from either the whole leaf or from the compound rebaudioside-A that is found in it. The taste is very sweet, but slightly different from regular sugar.
I recommend that you find a brand made of 100% pure Stevia leaf. Many popular brands of Stevia actually contain other sweeteners or fillers like Maltodextrin.
Pros of Stevia
- Stevia has a very low glycemic index and does not spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does. It is less likely to feed bacterial overgrowth (Candida for example)
- Stevia contains zero calories
- Stevia is so sweet that you only need to use a tiny amount. One packet can go a long way
Cons of Stevia
- Many Stevia brands contain maltodextrin or dextrose – read the labels carefully! Always choose a brand that is 100% pure Stevia.
- The FDA has approved rebaudioside-A, (also known as Reb. A on an ingredient label) a compound derived from stevia. However it has only approved stevia itself as a dietary supplement, not as a food additive.
- Reported side effects of stevia include mild bloating and nausea. However these are quite unusual.
Which should I use?
It really comes down to your personal preference. I use stevia for sweetening drinks like lemonade but use xylitol for baking since it most resembles the texture of sugar. Both are great for sugar substitutes when battling chronic illnesses.
As far as flavor goes, xylitol has a cooling affect on the taste buds where as stevia can have a bitter aftertaste.
You can’t go wrong, they’re both great options!