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Your Skin

We know—that new forehead wrinkle could be the result of factors like genetics and UV rays. But one more potential culprit: sugar. "High added-sugar intake impacts collagen production and damages it, aging skin faster," says Liz Weinandy, a registered dietician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The effect has been described as sugar sag, because sugar can degrade the supportive structures of skin, leading to premature sagging and wrinkling. "Sugar consumption also contributes to low-grade inflammation in the body, which may lead to acne," she says.

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Your Stomach

Dealing with diarrhea and bloating? You might want to think twice about the sweet stuff. "I've seen more patients lately who have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). When they cut added sugar, they said that their symptoms improved tremendously," says Weinandy. The exact mechanism is not yet known, but we do know that when someone eats too much sugar, the body pulls water into the GI tract to dilute it, which prompts things to rush through the GI tract and cause diarrhea, she says. So eating less added sugar is worth a shot; it could help with GI-related issues and can be beneficial for your overall health.

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Your Mood

When you're in need a pick-me-up, there's a biological reason why you crave chocolate and candy. When sugar hits your tongue it activates a dopamine flood in your brain that pings regions associated with pleasure and reward, says neuroscientist Nicole Avena, PhD, author of Why Diets Fail. The brain then establishes a link between sugar and feeling good, so you seek it out automatically when sad or stressed. Problem is, the end result may also leave you feeling down in the dumps and constantly irritable. "Dopamine also influences other hormones, like cortisol (the stress hormone). And cortisol is affected by blood-sugar levels, so if they're constantly going up and down all day [thanks to added sugar], so will your stress hormones," Avena says.

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Your Liver

It's not just alcohol that can damage your liver. People who consume excess amounts of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is often found in sodas, can develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The stress of metabolizing HFCS can cause the organ to develop fat, says Weinandy. Eventually, this damage can lead to cirrhosis. It's a rising problem, especially in children; up to 38 percent of obese children have NAFLD, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

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Your Whole Body

Getting hooked on sugar means more than your tastebuds craving it. Over time, your body becomes dependent on it. "Studies show that when you overeat sugar, it triggers production of natural opioids in the brain, something that the brain becomes accustomed to over time," says Avena. (This is why sugar is thought to be somewhat addictive.) When you suddenly stop eating an overload of the sweet stuff, you stop the opioid supply to the brain, and you can feel withdrawal symptoms for a few days, involving headaches, crankiness and feeling sluggish, she says. Because of that, if you're looking to cut back, Avena suggests reducing your intake in small steps rather than going cold turkey. "This ensures you don't feel deprived, and creates good habits that you can realistically live with," she says.