Sugar is everywhere. It’s in our waters, hamburgers, even our salads.  It’s no wonder sugar contributes heavily to a typical American diet, and likewise to increasing our chances of obesity. Sugar is often overlooked as the nemesis, and instead, people cut out fats when they’re trying to lose weight. It’s important to understand that not only does sugar increase your risks of obesity and heart disease, but it also may wreak much more havoc. Here are a few ways sugar can hurt you that have nothing to do with gaining weight.

1. Wrinkles

Did you know that studies have linked sugar to premature wrinkling? According to Prevention.com sugar molecules bind to proteins in your blood to create glycation end products, also known as AGEs. The two most important proteins in your skin are collagen and elastin, which help keep your skin supple. When AGEs are created, they “get jealous” in a way, and attack the very proteins responsible for our youthful, elastic skin, and a wrinkle is born.

2. Alzheimer’s Risk

Alzheimer’s is a genetic disease, but there have been an overwhelming number of studies linking exorbitant sugar consumption to Alzheimer’s, a degenerative disease affecting cognitive functions.

Alzheimer’s Association briefly summarizes a study highlighted in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease analyzing cognitive ability in patients with Type 2 diabetes. In this study, it was found that those on the verge of the illness (characterized by high blood sugar levels), had many toxic proteins located in their brains.

Need more evidence? You can read the list of them here: 

What is the link? The NIH tells us that insulin resistance caused by diabetes may alter the way that brains use glucose, its main source of energy. 

3. Very addictive

Lastly, sugar is very addictive—no surprise there. Addiction may seem like a mental thing, but it can also increase risk of illnesses altogether and nutrient deficiencies, according to Mercola. In the America we live in, sugar is in anything and everything, which is unfortunately, feeding that addiction.

And the seed of addiction is sown well before we know it. Think about it, what do you reward little children with to make them behave? Candy is often a positive reinforcement that can often do more harm than good.

A study by the NIH analyzed how much of a drug sugar was. When sugar is consumed, opioids are released (which is why we feel happy and rewarded when we chew on a Twix bar). It states that sugar withdrawal can produce the same effects of drug withdrawal. The study showed that when an intermittent withdrawal of sugar was manifested, signs of these withdrawals were clearly seen, such as binging.

Deleting sugar altogether from your life, as we have learned, can pose as a challenge to several. This is why we advocate moderation. To decrease your chances of the harmful effects of sugar, read nutrition labels for sugar content, skip out on dessert ever so often, and if you’re really craving sugar,  go for nature’s candy, fruits.