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With proper exercise follows the need for a proper diet, in which the consumption of sugar is hotly contested. While some research suggests sugar helps boost an athletes performance, most experts agree that an increased consumption of sugar leads to obesity, diabetes and many other adverse health effects.

It is where the sugar comes from that seems to lead to confusion. There’s natural sugars, as found in fruit, in addition to refined and synthetic sugars. When limiting sugar intake, a common mistake would be to limit all fruit consumption thinking all sugars affect the body the same. However, the sugar in fruit is not the same as processed sugar.

The fiber in fruit slows the absorption of sugar in the body. A 2013 Harvard study found that eating whole fruit significantly reduces the likelihood of type 2 diabetes while consuming fruit juice greatly increased it. Without fiber slowing the absorption of sugar, the researchers say, fruit juice consumers essentially drink the equivalent of a soft drink.

By taking sugar out of the natural state in which it found, fruit juice consumers exemplify sugar’s effects in their body. This leads to negative mental and physical health outcomes such as addiction.

There’s a reason a Princeton researcher Bart Hoebel compared sugar to cocaine in a 2008 article. The manipulation and concentration of the natural substance from which the two are derived wreaks havoc on the body.

This is because cocaine’s natural analogue is a coca leaf. Chewing a coca leaf produces a mild stimulation effect similar to caffeine with no subsequent physical addiction afterwards. But when stripped from the natural ecosystem of compounds it is found in and consumed in high quantities, as seen in pure cocaine, the brain becomes addicted to pure compound. For this reason, you’ll see far more Mountain Dew addicts than apple or strawberry addicts.

The sugar in whole, natural fruit is not bad for you because of the way in which the body processes it. Humans have consumed fruit for thousands of years without any relation to diabetes, liver disease or other health ailments. Only within the past century has sugar been highly processed and widely consumed, correlating with the increases in physical and mental issues.

When deciding where to cut sugar out of your diet, aim for the refined sugars of sodas, candy bars, sports drinks and in the quieter regions of condiments, sauces, yogurts and other foods.

Continue to eat fruit. Even though it is also high in sugar, it does not affect you the same as processed sugar.

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