Possible Bittersweet Effects of Stevia Uncovered
According to a new study by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers, the natural sweetener stevia may lead to a gut microbial imbalance. The findings were just published in Molecules, a leading international peer-reviewed journal of chemistry.
Stevia is a natural low-calorie sweetener that is growing in popularity in food and beverage products and is generally considered safe. However, emerging scientific evidence has implicated the sweetener in gut microbial imbalance, which can lead to a variety of gastrointestinal health issues.
According to the new study, stevia may disrupt communications between different bacteria in the gut microbiome. While the team found that stevia inhibited these pathways, it did not kill off the bacteria.
“This is an initial study that indicates that more research is warranted before the food industry replaces sugar and artificial sweeteners with stevia and its extracts,” says lead researcher Dr. Karina Golberg, of the BGU Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering.
Reference: “Anti-Quorum Sensing Activity of Stevia Extract, Stevioside, Rebaudioside A and Their Aglycon Steviol” by Victor Markus, Orr Share, Kerem Teralı Nazmi Ozer Robert S. Marks Ariel Kushmaro and Karina Golberg, 23 November 2020, Molecules.
The researchers who participated in the study include Prof. Ariel Kushmaro, Dr. Karina Golberg and Prof. Robert Marks of the BGU Avram and Stella Goldstein-Goren Department of Biotechnology Engineering, and their students Orr Share and Victor Markus. Prof. Kerem Terali from Near East University in Turkey and Prof. Nazmi Ozer from Hacettepe University in Cyprus also participated in the research.
The study was partially supported by the Israeli Council for Higher Education.