A popular sweetener called stevia has been linked to potential improvements in a common condition called fatty liver disease, according to a new study. The research comes from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles where experts evaluated the effects of sugar alternatives on liver health. Based on the results, a clinical trial that further evaluates the effects is now underway.
Sugar has been linked to a number of health problems ranging from type-2 diabetes to the development of certain types of cancers. As well, excessive sugar consumption may drive the development of obesity and spur the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is a liver condition that doesn’t result from driving alcohol.
For these reasons, many people turn to sugar alternatives of both the synthetic and natural varieties, the latter of which includes stevia, a sweetener made from plants. The new study looks into what kind of effects these sweeteners may have on liver health including their potential for reducing signs of liver disease.
The study involved a preclinical model used to test stevia extract and sucralose, two common sweeteners often used in desserts and sweet drinks. When compared to sugar, the researchers found that stevia improved the markers associated with fatty liver disease and lowered glucose levels.
The makers included, among other things, the amount of fat in the liver and fibrosis. These positive effects may have been due to changes in gut bacteria and decreases in cellular stress, according to the study lead Rohit Kohli, MBBS, MS. Additional research is necessary, however, which is where the clinical trial comes in.