Stevia vs. Xylitol: Which Sweetener Is Best?

stevia rebaudiana herb as sugar replacement

One of the hardest parts of beating a Candida overgrowth is overcoming a sweet tooth. To some extent, we’re not to blame – our bodies are programmed to take advantage of high-energy, sugary food whenever it becomes available. When humans were growing our own food this wasn’t a problem, but we live in an age where sugar is much more readily available. Quitting sugar now is a battle against both our evolutionary tendencies and our psychological addiction.

Reducing your sugar intake is a crucial part of fighting a Candida overgrowth. Candida Albicans needs sugar both for cellular growth and for its transition into fungal form. Cutting back on sugar is one of the first steps to restoring balance to your gut.

Today I’m going to examine two of the sweeteners that I recommend you use instead of sugar during your Candida treatment. Stevia and Xylitol are both found naturally (although the final product you use has been through some processing), and they both have tremendous advantages for those of us fighting a sweet tooth.

Xylitol

Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol that is found in raspberries, oats, mushrooms and lots of other common foods. However the xylitol you find in the store is usually derived from corn. I don’t usually recommend corn on the Candida diet, as it is almost all GMO. However in this case it is relatively easy to find Xylitol that is derived from non-GMO corn. Pure Xylitol by NOW Foods is a good example. You can also find Xylitol derived from birch bark.

Pros of Xylitol

  • Xylitol doesn’t raise your blood sugar like regular sugar (that’s why it is used so often in diabetic-friendly foods).
  • Xylitol actually reduces the amount of acetaldehyde that Candida produces. This can help to reduce typical Candida symptoms like headaches and nausea.
  • Xylitol is good for your teeth because it doesn’t feed bacteria in your mouth like regular sugar.
  • It is easy to find a brand of Xylitol that is derived from non-GMO corn.
  • Xylitol contains roughly half the calories of regular sugar, and far fewer carbohydrates.
  • Testing of Xylitol has shown it to be very safe, and it is approved by the FDA.

Cons of Xylitol

  • Eating large amounts of Xylitol can lead to stomach cramps and occasional diarrhea. Symptoms typically disappear if you reduce the amount that you are using.
  • Xylitol is potentially very toxic for household animals, particularly dogs. Keep your Xylitol well hidden from your pet, and call your vet immediately if they ingest any.

Stevia

Stevia comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant, native to Paraguay but now grown across the world. The sweetener itself comes from either the whole leaf or from the compound rebaudioside-A that is found in it. The taste is very sweet, but slightly different from regular sugar.

I recommend find a brand that is made of 100% pure Stevia leaf, like this. Many popular brands of Stevia actually contain other sweeteners like Maltodextrin.

Pros of Stevia

  • Stevia has a very low Glycemic Index and does not spike your blood sugar like regular sugar does. It is less likely to feed your Candida overgrowth.
  • Stevia contains zero calories.
  • Stevia is so sweet that you only need to use a tiny amount. One packet can go a long way.
  • The best Stevia brands are 100% natural and use the whole Stevia leaf.

Cons of Stevia

  • Many Stevia brands actually contain Maltodextrin or dextrose – read the labels carefully! Always choose a brand that is 100% pure Stevia.
  • The FDA has approved rebaudioside-A, a compound derived from stevia. However it has only approved stevia itself as a dietary supplement, not as a food additive. There is a widespread belief that this is a result of lobbying from the sugar industry. Meanwhile, Stevia was fully approved in the EU in 2011.
  • Reported side effects of stevia include mild bloating and nausea. However these are quite unusual.

Which should you choose?

Whether you use Stevia or Xylitol really comes down to you as an individual. Both are great for use on a Candida diet, so it really depends which flavor you prefer. Remember to use them as part of a broader Candida treatment program – my Ultimate Candida Diet program provides a complete timeline and plan for beating your Candida.

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Comments

  1. Bansaw says

    I used both Xylitol and Stevia. Stevia typicaly has an aftertaste but Xylitol doesn’t. It looks like sugar, feels like sugar and tastes like it.
    Whenever I get a sweettooth craving I simply suck on a spoonful of Xylitol and the craving goes. Great stuff.

  2. isa says

    I have read that stevia promotes candida growth (Dr. Zoltan Rona’s Candida Guide) and after 20 years of battling candida, have found that I’m sensitive to stevia, especially the ground leaf powder. Now I wonder if it’s because of the corn connection?! After living in Japan where Xylitol is widely used, I’m used to Xylitol in chewing gum, but now try to stay away from using any sweeteners at all.

    • says

      Hi Isa
      Dr. Zoltan’s information is unfortunately out of date. Here is a 2008 study showing that Stevia extract actually has antimicrobial properties and can even kill Candida Albicans.
      http://www.tjpr.org/vol7_no4/747_jayaraman.php
      However you are right to stay away from sweeteners completely if you can – it’s just that so many people struggle to give up their sweet tooth so we have to find an alternative!
      Lisa

    • April says

      Isa, I too am sensitive to both Stevia and Xylitol.

      1. I started chewing Spry gum (with Xylitol), and developed Thrush in my mouth for months!

      2. I started drinking a protein powder shake (with Stevia), and developed severe systemic candida that almost landed me in the hospital. I went to 2 MDs who didn’t have a clue, and they sent me to an oncologist! But I finally figured out on my own what was happening. I stopped drinking the shake, and started treating myself for candida (with Oreganol P73 and Coconut Oil). Wouldn’t you know the symptoms started reversing immediately! No Xylitol OR Stevia for me!

  3. Lynda says

    There is a product called XyliMelts, they are time-released discs that adhere to your gums. And they really do adhere, and stay there. You can even sleep with them. It stimulates saliva, if you have a dry mouth, hopefully reducing the risk of cavities. The ingredients state no animal products, fermentabl sugar, corn protein or preservatives. They are made by OraHealth. The pharmacy does not carry them OTC, but you can call your pharmacy, and will order them and have them the next day. $8.39 for 40 discs. They are a God-send!

  4. Cat says

    I have tried making baked goods from Xylitol but they always crumble or the consistency is weird. Does anyone have any recipes for Xylitol that do not taste dry and/or the ingredients stick together? I have looked for cookies or other desserts in the health stores made with Xylitol, but have not found any besides mints and gum and ice cream (Clemmies).
    Mahalo,
    Cat

  5. Laura says

    I mix xylitol with mashed up avocado and 1/2 tsp of vanilla, or add cocao too, taste just like vanilla or chocolate pudding.

    I also add xylitol to nutbutters or tahini with a few drops of vanilla when I have sugar cravings

    I add xylitol to almond milk, hot or cold.

    Laura

  6. Vicki says

    I have a severe corn allergy, so I use a 100% birch derived Xylitol. I’m also gluten free, so I had thought that the crumbly consistency of baked goods was due to using gluten free flours.
    I’d like to know if coconut sugar is ok to use on the Candida diet. It’s very low glycemic, since coconut is anti-fungal, wondered if the sugar would be okay to use,
    Thanks!

  7. ElleJ says

    Hi Lisa,
    Great information on these two sweeteners. I had read somewhere that Xylitol can lower blood sugar drastically, like sugar alcohols such as mannitol and sorbitol, which is why it is so dangerous for pets. Since I am hypoglycemic, I have avoided Xylitol for this reason. Is this accurate information? Thank you!

    • says

      Coconut sugar does have a slightly lower Glycemic Index than regular sugar, and it does contain more fiber and nutrients. However it is still not appropriate to use during the Candida diet. You should stick to Stevia or Xylitol.

  8. janet jones says

    I have been cooking with Liquid Vegetable Glycerin instead of sugar, for baked goods, it was recommnended in a Candidia control cookbook in all the recepies for deserts, and internet research shows no blood suger spikes. How you you feel about that product?

  9. Lori says

    Thank you for the information. I don’t particulary like Stevia and I think I’m having a reaction to xylitol. What do you know about yacon syrup? It’s VERY mild in regards to its sweetness, but I feel like it does the trick – for me at least.
    Thanks again!

  10. Terese Benzie says

    I really need help with suggestions on what to eat. I am allergic to garlic, eggs, sesame seeds, certain nuts. No flour, really only complex carbs.
    I eat a plant based protein shake with stevia that helps sustain me so I do crave. I use Standard Process “protefood b4 I go to bed so I stay asleep. I am not breaking down carbs, if I eat them for dinner I do not sleep & I have restless legs. I end up taking probiotic, 1 Tylenol, and 4 Hylands restless leg tabs under my tongue. I will eventually fall asleep, but now my back hurts and I have a Tylenol hang over. Does anyone have something that can help me?
    In desperate need, Terese

  11. dkaj says

    Restless leg syndrome has been associated with Celiac Disease. Do a google search on the two, and it will show up. It may be if this is indeed celiac, that the damage being done or that had been done, is bringing on your other intolerances.

  12. Darren says

    Good article. You forgot to mention a con of stevia is the bitter aftertaste. There’s different brands of either product but most I’ve tried xylitol’s the winner for taste.

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