Cavities are no longer the only reason to avoid the sweet stuff. Recent research shows alarming links between sugar and a growing number of diseases, from diabetes to cancer. Sugar triggers inflammation in the body, which is the root cause of many diseases. So it is no surprise that sugar plays a major role in the onset of these conditions. With hidden sugars lurking throughout our food supply, we often may not even realize the alarming amount we’re putting into our bodies. Aside from the obvious sources of candy and soda, sugar is also found in sauces, dressings and refined carbohydrates like bread. The average American consumes around 22 teaspoons of added sugars per day. For kids, this increases to a whopping average of 32 teaspoons!1) The FDA has finally begun to taken notice, recently proposing a recommended daily limit of about 12.5 teaspoons per day 2). But given the multitude of health issues associated with sugar, you would be better off cutting out added sugars altogether to avoid its toxic effects.

Here are my top 10 reasons to cut out sugar:

1. It is highly addictive.

If you feel like you have an insatiable sweet tooth, you could be experiencing a biological addiction to sugar or even a fungal /yeast infection. Similar to other addictive substances, sugar stimulates the release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain. Likewise, unpleasant withdrawal symptoms occur when you refrain from sugar, causing you to crave more.3)

2. Sugar damages your gut flora and weakens your immune system.

Research suggests that sugar promotes the growth of bad bacteria and inflammation in the digestive system. Since about 80% of your immune system is located in your gut, chronic inflammation can cause a variety of serious autoimmune diseases.4)

3. Sugar increases your risk for heart disease.

High intake of added sugars can raise levels of triglycerides as well as unhealthy LDL cholesterol. These are major risk factors for heart disease. Though people associate saturated fats with heart disease, it is actually sugar that is proven to be a major contributor! 5) 6)

4. Excess fructose sugar can damage the liver.

Too much fructose has similar toxic effects on the liver as alcohol. Overloading the liver with fructose, primarily through a diet high in sodas and processed foods, can result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Although most people have no initial symptoms, fatty liver disease is a precursor to chronic illnesses like diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and severe liver disease. 7)

5. Sugar is a leading contributor to obesity.

Numerous studies show a correlation between high sugar intake and increased prevalence of obesity. Eating sugary foods also leads to less satiety, which keeps you feeling hungry and ultimately causes you to eat even more. 8) 9)

6. Sugar is linked to higher rates of Type 2 diabetes.

A study showed that populations with high-sugar diets suffered from greater rates of Type 2 diabetes, independent of the population’s obesity levels. Meaning, regardless of whether a person is obese or not, sugar alone plays a prominent role in the development of Type 2 diabetes. 10)

7. Sugar can increase your risk of cancer.

Sugar’s role in elevating insulin levels and disrupting metabolic function has been tied to the development of cancer. Sugar also feeds the rapid growth and multiplication of malignant cells. 11) 12) 13)

8. Sugar harms your mental health.

Diets high in sugar have been linked to the development of depression, and have also been shown to worsen conditions such as mood swings, anxiety and even schizophrenia. 14) 15)

9. Sugar can contribute to acne.

If you’re struggling with breakouts, a high-sugar diet could be the culprit. Sugar raises insulin levels, which triggers the production of testosterone and acne-producing hormones. Even though the correlation between junk food and acne has been debated for years, a study showed improved symptoms in acne patients upon the introduction of a low-glycemic diet. 16)

10. Empty calories.

Last but not least is the simple fact that sugar contains absolutely no essential nutrients, and has no nutritional value. By consuming your calories in the form of sugary foods and refined starches, you are depriving your body of beneficial nutrients and loading it with an inflammatory toxin. There is literally nothing to be gained from eating sugar, but a whole lot to lose!