Does Stevia Cause Acne? This Is What We Know…
When it comes to acne-prone skin, everyone knows that eating too much sugar can be bad. If you’re like me, eating anything with an ingredient ending in “ose” is enough to make your acne hurt and irritate you. Some people say that sugar substitutes like Stevia can help reduce these kinds of pimples, but can Stevia cause hormonal acne? People are saying the following:
My acne got out of hand after I started using Stevia for about a week. On my forehead and chin, I had terrible cystic acne that would not go away. I thought it was my birth control, so I switched to Yaz, which is supposed to help with acne, but it didn’t do much at all. I recently thought back to when I first got acne and found that it started right after I switched from agave/honey to stevia. Since I stopped using stevia a few days ago, my acne is finally getting better. It started in mid-June.
I just thought it was strange that it got SO bad as soon as I started using Stevia. On my chin, it was very mild, and I only had a few cystic ones. I always had 10 or more on my forehead. so bad that I got headaches from them. I have one cystic pimple on my forehead, a whitehead and some blackheads on my forehead, and about three normal whiteheads on my chin.
When I started using stevia in its raw form, I got pimples.” And I ate a very healthy diet that didn’t include dairy, any kind of sugar, wheat, gluten, or caffeine. My acne went away a few days after I stopped using Stevia.
Sugar substitutes might not have any calories and might be better for our hormones than regular sugar. However, if you have acne-prone skin, you should be aware of the risks these sugar substitutes pose. So, can Stevia lead to acne caused by hormones?
Can Stevia Cause Hormonal Acne?
We know why sugar is bad for our skin: it makes our insulin levels rise quickly, which makes our skin more inflamed and speeds up the production of oil and skin cells. Even though sugar is in almost everything, we know to stay away from it. Whether it’s certain white breads, sauces, or takeout food, we know we can’t always trust that our food won’t have sugar in it. So, what are the benefits of using a sugar substitute like Stevia instead of sugar, and can Stevia cause hormonal acne just like sugar does?
What is Stevia?
Stevia is a natural sweetener that is used to add flavor to food. Stevia, whose full name is Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, is mostly grown outside of the United States. It is related to the sunflower plant and tastes about 200 times sweeter than white sugar. Stevia is mostly used to help people who are overweight control their weight. It is also often used as a sugar substitute to help people with diabetes control their blood sugar levels.
Does Stevia Spike Insulin Levels?
Most major studies show that Stevia does not cause insulin levels to rise. In fact, stevia often works in the opposite way that sugar does, by reducing inflammation and controlling insulin production.
Stevia is a good sugar substitute because:
- It gives the feeling of sweetness without causing inflammation, which means that regular use will lead to less acne over time.
- Can actually reduce inflammation, which clears up the skin and makes existing breakouts look less bad.
- Can help lower cholesterol, which can help clear the skin. High cholesterol can cause acne breakouts.
- Antioxidant benefits
- Can help people who are overweight control how much sugar they eat and lose weight. Controlling your weight is also another way to reduce acne.
- Some studies have even found that Stevia can help people with high blood pressure (hypertension) keep their blood pressure in check.
With all of these benefits, does that mean that people with acne should use Stevia instead of sugar in their food on a regular basis?
My opinion is that Stevia shouldn’t be used too much. It can be helpful as a sugar substitute, but it also has some problems of its own. In fact, some critics of Stevia point out that the benefits of Stevia, like those listed above, only apply to the stevia plant in its pure, unrefined form and not necessarily to the forms of Stevia that you might find in diet soda drinks or low-fat desserts. Many stevia sweeteners are just glycosides, which are compounds made from stevia that have no health or nutritional value.
Can too much Stevia use lead to acne?
Since sugar is in so many everyday foods and products, you might be wondering if too much Stevia can cause acne. Yes, in a nutshell. Some experts say that Stevia can be used in moderation to help people with acne cut back on sugar, but that Stevia itself can cause acne when it is eaten in large amounts.
When acne-prone skin is too dry, it can produce too much oil. When Stevia is used too much, the body can also make too much insulin. When we turn on the body’s sweet sensors and cause a spike in insulin without giving the body any real sugar to process, the body can make cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol can also cause your body to make too much oil, which can lead to acne. Isn’t it?
The cons of using Stevia as an alternative to sugar
When we think about how some stevia sweeteners are just extracts of the Stevia plant, we can see that the benefits of Stevia are often greatly exaggerated. Studies have shown that the extracts in these plants are about 400 times sweeter than regular white sugar.
Some people with acne might have allergic reactions to these highly processed extracts of stevia.
Overusing stevia extracts can cause stress in the body. Stimulating the sweet sensors without giving the body sugar can cause the body to overproduce insulin and cortisol, both of which are bad for the skin and cause acne.
If you want to use Stevia as a sugar replacement, it’s best to do so in small amounts and in its purest forms. Aspartame-sweetened sodas should be avoided if you want to get rid of acne. Instead, use green leaf stevia leaf and pure stevia extract.
When buying a stevia product, it’s also important to always read the list of ingredients. You might not realize that the manufacturer has added a lot of other inflammatory ingredients along with the stevia that will make your skin red or cause a breakout. When choosing the right form of Stevia, the powder should only have one ingredient ( Rebaudiana A, of course). If you choose a liquid form of Stevia, it’s up to you to check the label for any ingredients that might cause your skin to react.
Types of stevia that are best for acne-prone skin
There are three different kinds or categories of stevia on the market:
- Purified stevia extract
- Stevia blends
- Green stevia leaf
1. Extracts of pure stevia
These are the best kinds of stevia sweeteners. They come in both powder and liquid form.
When you buy the powder, stevia extract, Reb A, or Rebaudiana A, will usually be the only thing on the list.
If you buy the liquid version, on the other hand, the first two ingredients are probably stevia leaf extract and water.
2. Stevia mixtures
These products are a mix of stevia extract and sugar alcohols like erythritol or xylitol.
Like the final ingredients in purified extracts, the final ingredients in stevia blends can be different depending on the brand and how the product is meant to be used.
For example, a stevia blend meant for baking might include sugar alcohols along with raw sugar, chicory root, brown sugar, molasses, and other sweeteners.
Some companies even add maltodextrin to stevia. Maltodextrin is a very fine powder made from some starchy foods. This is because maltodextrin gives the stevia product the same quality as regular granulated sugar, which makes it easy to pour.
On the other hand, maltodextrin is terrible at making blood sugar go up. In fact, it has a high glycemic index (85-100), which is worse than sugar (which has a GI of about 58).
So, in short, always look at what’s in it.
When it comes to quality, these are the worst because you don’t know what else might be in them.
3. The green leaves of stevia
This is the real stevia you should look for. Actual stevia leaves! It can be bought in two ways:
leaves that have already died.
Herb powder from Stevia (dried leaves ground up into a powder)
You can find both of them at a local herb store or online at places like Starwest Botanicals, Frontier Co-op, or Mountain Rose Herbs.
The best way to use the dried leaves and powder is to sweeten hot drinks (like herbal tea). From what I’ve seen, these measurements work well:
- For 1.5 quarts of tea, you need 1 teaspoon of dried stevia leaf.
- For 1.5 quarts of tea, you need 1/2 teaspoon of stevia leaf powder.
Whether you use the dry leaf or the powder, always add the stevia to hot tea and never to cold tea. Like other herbs, the stevia leaf needs hot water to get the sweetness (and other nutrients) out of it.
As you can see, stevia sweeteners have some strange ingredients, some of which are known to cause problems in the gut and inflammation. It makes sense that stevia sweeteners might make some people break out more.
What are the best all-natural alternatives to sugar for acne?
During the many years I spent making my anti-acne program and writing my eBook, I tried almost every acne treatment there was. I tried every “miracle” product on the market and every skincare routine that promised me quick and easy results. The truth is that what we eat is a big part of how we fight acne. Here are my suggestions for the best natural alternatives to sugar for acne:
If you like using Stevia instead of sugar, you can keep doing so in small amounts. Does Stevia help clear up acne? I can’t really say yes or no because green leaf stevia leaf and purified stevia extract can be helpful anti-inflammatories and help regulate the body’s blood sugars, but stevia can make acne worse if it’s not used correctly. Still, a small amount of Stevia is better than a lot of regular, processed table sugar.
Honey is another natural thing that can help with acne and breakouts. Honey is a natural antioxidant and can be used to sweeten everything from baked goods to your morning coffee.
If you want something sweet but don’t want to mess up your acne treatments, a couple of squares of dark chocolate will satisfy your craving without setting off a chain reaction of inflammation and breakouts. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants that are very strong and can even help the body control blood pressure and stress. If you want to know more, you can read my blog post about how dark chocolate can help acne.
100% Pure Maple Syrup
Pure Maple Syrup (100%) is another natural sugar that can be used in small amounts to help fight acne. Pure maple syrup can be used to sweeten drinks or other foods. If you really want something sweet, you can even add a little maple syrup to a fruit salad. Remember that maple syrup can’t have any other ingredients in it, and that it has a lot of calories. As with all of my suggestions, moderation is the key.
The bottom line is that what we eat has a huge effect on how we treat skin that is prone to acne. As I explain in my eBook Unmasking Acne, some “healthy” and “whole” foods that we buy and eat because we think they are good for us are actually making our acne worse.
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