What is Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress is a natural process that occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals to antioxidants in the body, which ultimately causes damage to its cells and tissues. Oxidative stress is a natural process in aging, though long-term oxidative stress leads to chronic disease.
What is Oxidative Stress?
Our bodies naturally undergo a variety of processes to function: breathing, producing energy, digesting, and many more. These processes are necessary for us to survive and thrive. However, the byproducts are sometimes less beneficial, an example of which is the production of free radicals. Free radicals are typically neutralized by antioxidants, though sometimes there is an imbalance between them. This imbalance leads to oxidative stress, which contributes to many chronic diseases.
Free radical production and oxidative stress are impacted by four primary factors:
- Certain conditions
- Environmental factors
Free radicals are molecules with an unpaired electron within their electron shell. Here's how they're formed:
Mitochondria are in charge of the creation of a cell's energy, ATP. It combines with oxygen and glucose, resulting in carbon dioxide, water, and ATP. Free radicals are the byproducts of this process. In appropriate amounts, free radicals work to help maintain homeostasis in the body. When out of balance and in excess, free radicals begin to wreak havoc on the body's cells, tissues, and DNA
Environmental factors, such as cigarette smoke, pesticides, and ozone are also contributing factors to free radical formation in the body.
Antioxidants neutralize and remove free radicals by donating an electron to that lacking electron shell, helping to protect the body from oxidative stress and its related damage to cells and tissues. Some examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E.
Antioxidants are created through a variety of means, including within the cells themselves. However, primarily antioxidants come from the individual's diet. Foods like fruits and vegetables provide many of the essential antioxidants through the vitamins and minerals ingested from the individual's diet.
What are the Consequences of Oxidative Stress?
Unhealthy oxidative stress is a contributing factor for many chronic diseases, including but not limited to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, chronic fatigue, cardiovascular disease, gene mutations and cancers, and inflammatory diseases.
However, not all oxidative stress is bad for the body. Exercise can cause oxidative stress within the body that is beneficial and even has a regulatory effect on the body. The free radical produced from physical activity helps to regulate tissue growth and stimulate more antioxidant production. Mild oxidative stress also helps to protect the body against disease.
Long-term oxidative stress is when there's a problem, and it results in damage to the body's cells, proteins, and DNA, as well as an acceleration in aging and the development/worsening of a range of chronic conditions.
What are the Signs of Oxidative Stress?
The damage caused by free radicals during oxidative stress damages our tissues, proteins, and DNA. The results of such can manifest in physical and mental symptoms you can look for, some of which include:
- Brain Fog
- Age Inappropriate Wrinkles
- Gray Hair
- Vision Problems
- Higher Infection Rates
Ways to Reduce Oxidative Stress
Balance Your Blood Sugar
Sugar consumption directly induces oxidation to process it. An unbalanced blood sugar contributes to oxidative stress. You can work toward balancing your blood sugar by reducing/eliminating sugar and processed foods, as well as eating smaller, more frequent meals.
One of the kick starters in oxidative stress is when the body is fighting infection. Typically, the inflammatory process is kicked into gear just long enough to address the infected and damaged tissue, at which point the resulting oxidative stress subsides. However, sometimes this process goes into overdrive, leading to chronic inflammation and unhealthy levels of oxidative stress. Minimizing the opportunities for infection to begin with through behavioral consciousness and maintaining a healthy hygienic routine are great ways to reduce your likelihood of infection.
Prioritize Stress Management
Our lives today are often so overwhelmingly busy that we may not even have a moment to check in with ourselves and address our own needs. It's important to build time into your routine to do this and recognize in which ways your body is needing to recover at a given moment, reducing stress overall. Some ideas for stress management include:
- Making Art
- Spending Time in Nature
Prioritizing organic choices in your grocery shopping and meal preparation, avoiding processed foods, cigarettes, candles with unhealthy additives, hair and nail salons, and exhaust fumes are all healthy choices for minimizing oxidative stress. Further, checking your personal and household cleaning products for toxic ingredients and swapping them for non-toxic alternatives when needed help you to better take care of yourself and your home in healthy ways.
Increase Your Antioxidant Levels
Exposure to toxins and some degree of oxidative stress is unavoidable. To balance this, prioritizing increasing your antioxidant intake is one of the best things you can do to fight oxidative stress. The more antioxidants in your body, the better equipped you are to neutralize the free radicals.
This can be accomplished by consuming antioxidants in your diet and in supplements, as well as by encouraging your body to make more of its antioxidants by consuming foods like:
- Cruciferous Vegetables
And supplements like:
- Vitamins C and E
- Vitamin D
Managing Your Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance of antioxidants to free radicals in the body. The body naturally produces both, and they're required to conduct a lot of necessary processes to keep everything running smoothly. However, an imbalance develops oxidative stress, which results in damage to the body's cells and tissues and contributes to a wide variety of chronic conditions. Some of the correlated conditions include neurodegenerative conditions, chronic inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Unhealthy oxidative stress can be managed and reeled in through lifestyle changes, including eating a diet high in antioxidants, exercising regularly, quitting smoking, and reducing pollution exposure.
Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.
Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.
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The information, knowledge, and experience shared on this website is the opinion of SupplementRelief.com. This site and its content is intended to enhance your knowledge base as YOU MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTHCARE DECISIONS in partnership with your qualified health professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products referred to are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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