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Webmaster | 18. July 2007 @ 16:17

For cancer sufferers, regulating the diet, particularly the sugar intake, is of prime importance in controlling the disease. This article looks at the use of Stevia as a calorie-free sugar substitute.

As many people now recognise, oxygen is cancer's number one enemy. But an enemy of oxygen in the body is refined sugar, which increases acidosis and thereby eliminates oxygen. Refined sugar is the prime energy source for fuelling cancer cells, and it is found in large quantities throughout the modern diet. So is there any wonder that the incidence of cancer in the western world has multiplied many times throughout the past century!

In today's food industry, the presence of sugar is regularly concealed under its many pseudonyms, such as fructose, cane extract, corn syrup solids and so many other contemporary euphemisms. However it is particularly found in many popular soda type drinks, so heavily promoted and avidly consumed by millions around the world.

What about artificial sweeteners like aspartame? Can't they be used instead of sugar? Yes indeed, they are regularly used as a sugar replacement in many diet drinks. I'm sure you know which ones they are. But what you might not be aware of is the long-term toxicity of many such products and the damage and illnesses to which they can lead. Evidence is accumulating and perhaps one day it will be sufficient to have them taken off the market.

However, as an alternative to artificial sweeteners, there is one totally natural sugar-substitute readily available today which stands out above all the rest, and that product simply goes by the name of Stevia.

For centuries, the native Americans of Paraguay and Brazil used a species of Stevia, Stevia rebaudiana which they called ka'a he'e (or "sweet herb"), as a sweetener in yerba mate and medicinal teas for treating conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heartburn. Stevia is a herb belonging to the daisy family, possessing zero calories, zero carbohydrates and a zero glycemic index. Fortunately Stevia has recently gained greater attention with the rise in demand for low-carbohydrate, low-sugar food alternatives. It is also now available as a health food supplement in the USA and Europe.

It was not until 1931 that French chemists isolated the glycosides that give Stevia its sweet taste. These extracts were named steviosides and rebaudiosides. These compounds are around 250-300 times sweeter than sucrose (in the form of ordinary table sugar). Stevia's sweet taste has a slower onset but a longer duration than that of sugar. At high concentration it possesses a bitter and liquorice-like after-taste, which varies depending ipon which glycoside is consumed.

As a sweetening agent Stevia has almost zero calories, in contrast to table sugar that possesses 4.5 calories per gram. Stevia does not significantly alter blood glucose, and so is attractive as a sweetener to diabetics and those on carbohydrate controlled diets.

In the early 1970s, the Japanese began cultivating Stevia as an alternative to artificial sweeteners such as cyclamate and saccharin, suspected carcinogens. Stevia sweeteners have been produced commercially in Japan since 1977 and are widely used in food products, soft drinks, and for table use. Japan currently consumes more Stevia than any other country, accounting for about 40% of the sweetener market.

Stevia is also able to perform a number of other beneficial tasks. For example, it has been shown that it may enhance moods and increase energy levels and mental alertness. The cosmetic industry also employs Stevia in many skin care products, where its topical application has been shown to reduce the appearance of skin blemishes.

Whether you are a cancer sufferer, a diabetic, or simply want to lose weight painlessly, I highly recommend that you add Stevia to your nutritional regime. It is inexpensive and available through many health stores or via the Internet.

About the author:Dr Bianca Tavares is a medical consultant experienced in both traditional and complementary medicine. Her writing about prostate cancer can be found at http://www.prostate-cancer-answers.info and her alternative health blog can be viewed at http://alternative-cancer-therapies.blogspot.com.

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