Are Artificial Sweeteners like Stevia Safe During Pregnancy?

To cut it short, FDA considers Stevia to be safe during pregnancy. Furthermore, it has also been given a Generally Recognized as Safe or GRAS rating by the FDA. However, it does not necessarily mean that it will be 100% safe for your pregnancy.

The dietary requirement for each pregnancy is different. A major concern revolves around the use of artificial sweeteners. Many pregnant women cut down on natural sugar only to replace it with artificial ones.

But the question remains whether they are completely safe. Considering the complexity of the pregnancy it is difficult to say that artificial sweeteners are better than normal sugar.

What is Stevia?

Stevia is a zero calorie artificial sweetener. It is an extract from the leaves of a plant with the same name. A study conducted by Drugs.com reveals that stevia has no impact on gestational growth and that is why it is safe to have during pregnancy.

Stevia is used in various sweets, candies, jams, and even soft drinks. Ideally these are foods which you should not have, during pregnancy. However, according to Pope & Koren (2014) food items made from artificial sugar sources is not harmful for pregnant women.

What is the danger of having natural sugar?

During your pregnancy your digestive system would not be in the best of shape. That is why it will be hard for you to digest complex foods like sugar or fat. It will affect your kidney. It might even lead to gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes can cause much trouble during your pregnancy. It might as well affect your fetus’s health. That is why some doctors recommend artificial sweeteners like Stevia.

Are artificial sweeteners safe during pregnancy?

Apart from the FDA, Health Canada also has deemed artificial sweeteners to be safe for pregnant women. Natural sugar or sugar based foods are hard to digest. They need more water to get digested.

That is why artificial sweeteners are a welcome change. Many doctors recommend pregnant women to have artificial sweetener instead of natural sugar. However, on the other hand experts also suggest that too much dependence on artificial sweeteners is also not healthy.

Many women have sweet cravings during their pregnancy. This happens mostly due to the drastic change in the hormone level. Permission to have artificial sweeteners like Stevia gives them a free license to consume it beyond limits. This actually deprives the mother and the fetus from getting adequate amount of nutrient.

These sweeteners have no calorie and hence will not provide any sort of nutritious value to the fetus. Artificial sweeteners cannot be considered as a regular diet, during pregnancy. At best they can only be treated as replacement for regular sugar.

Considerations while having artificial Sweeteners:

Normal table sugars contain empty calories. They do not add any nutritive value to your pregnant body. There are no hints of vitamins and minerals. However, if you are on the edge of suffering gestational diabetes, then table sugars will strictly be prohibited.

In such cases artificial sweeteners are advised by the doctors. Though artificial sweeteners, like Stevia, are devoid of any calorie, they are also lacking in any form of nutritious value. That is why they should only be used as a taste enhancer and nothing more. Sugar, of any form, should not take over your overall nutrition absorption.

A little hint of artificial sweetener can be added with the food you have. But your main focus should be on having fiber rich foods and plenty of fluids. In this way you will protect yourself from unwanted complications.

Types of Artificial Sweeteners:

There are broadly two types of artificial sweeteners-one with calories and others without it. Stevia falls in the latter category. The former type of sweeteners is also known as sugar alcohol and they also have much less calories compared to regular table sugar.

Besides Stevia there are many other artificial sweeteners obtained from natural sources. The US Food and Drug Administration approve the following artificial sweeteners during pregnancy:

Asparatame:

Used in soft drinks and yogurts, this artificial sweetener is available in the brands like Equal or Nutrasweet.

Sucralose:

Available in the brand called Splenda this artificial sweetener is used in home cooking or baking activities. It is available in soft drinks, baked goods, and ice creams.

Acesulfame potassium

It is not available for individual retail buyers. However, commercially they are used for sweetening some soft drinks, ice creams and some frozen desserts.

Sugar alcohols

These sweeteners are also not commercially available for retail buyers. However, they are available in candies, ice creams and some frozen desserts

Saccharin

In some pharmacies in Canada, this artificial sweetener is available. However, it is not available in the markets of the United States.

Cyclamate

Sold by the brands in the form of Sugar Twin and Sweet N Low, this artificial sweetener is not approved by FDA for pregnant women. It is also not approved in Canada. That is why you should do well to check the contents of the artificially sweetened product that you buy.

Tips for Would-be Mothers:

Pregnancy is valuable and no wrong choices should jeopardize it. If it okay for you to take artificial sweetener then remember the following tips:

  • From our list and others, educate yourself about the kind of sweeteners which are okay for you to have during pregnancy.
  • Based on that information you should check the contents of each and every artificially sweetened product you purchase from the market.
  • Under best of the circumstances, try to cut down on any kind of sugar you consume.

Zero calorie artificial sweeteners like Stevia is pretty safe to consume during pregnancy. However, not all artificial sweeteners are safe for you. That is where you should be more careful.

Recommendation:

Choosing artificial sweetener is not always advisable over natural sugar. Many doctors prefer prescribing natural sugar over anything like Stevia. However, on the plus side Stevia is something which tested to be safe and does not affect gestational health. Do not make your decision. Always do as prescribed by the doctors.

Reference:

http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancy-health/artificial-sweeteners-and-pregnancy/

https://www.livestrong.com/article/463548-is-stevia-safe-for-pregnancy/