We all love a little extra sugar. On our cereal, in our coffee, pretty much anything you eat can taste a little sweeter simply by adding a couple of spoonfuls. While processed sugar is very sweet and pretty much in everything, adding it to your food can have some negative side effects. Not only will you see your mid-section get a little softer, your heart, joints, even your brain will not enjoy sugar as much as your taste buds do.

The bad side

Highly addictive. When you add sugar to your food, you are triggering a huge release of dopamine, much like drugs will, and just like some drugs, the more you use, the more likely you are to become addicted to the substance.

If you're used to adding it to most of your meals and you suddenly stop, you will go into withdrawals similar to drug addicts.

Inflammation. In higher usage, your joints can swell up and become painful. There is a reason why athletes stay away from adding it to their diets. During a performance, they may take sugar for the energy, but more than likely their regular diets contain none to very little.

Damage your liver. Your liver helps break down fats and turns it into energy. A report from the University of California San Francisco, when you eat too much sugar, you are overloading your liver and can lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

Too much fat in the liver can lead to liver inflammation, which can lead to scarring and irreversible damage to the liver.

Insulin resistance. When you consume too much sugar, you flood your body with too much glucose. Your cells will stop burning glucose instead of fat and this can lead to several diseases such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes.

Natural vs. added

Just like sodium, sugar can be found in pretty much anything you eat. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts all contain natural sugar, and there's nothing wrong with that. Natural sugar is just fine and should be apart of any healthy eating plan, but when you start throwing in more sugar to change the taste, that's when you start adding to your weight and other issues. When you eat an apple, you are not only getting the natural sugar it contains, but you also get other nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.

When you add sugar to your food, all you are adding is fructose and glucose. You are not getting any of the other health benefits of natural sugar and you are flooding your body with dopamine which will mess up your body's natural production of dopamine.

Sugar by any other name

There are dozens of different names for sugar substitutes. Just because the label does not say sugar does not mean there isn't any added. When going through the list of ingredients on a product, look for these words:Anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, syrup and white sugar.

Stick with natural foods

Want to avoid added sugar and sugar substitutes? A whole food diet will help. Whole food diets are when you eat nothing but naturally grown food. Fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, etc. Anything that's processed you will want to avoid. When you eat processed food, you're not tasting the actual food, you're tasting chemicals that mimic the flavor of what you are eating. Often times added sodium and sugar are the top biggest additives in Processed Foods.

Eating only whole or natural foods will leave your waistline shrinking, and your body and mind in top performance.

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