Oxidative Stress is when an oxygen molecule splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. If that is a bit too scientific let us break it down further. Oxidative stress is when the equilibrium in the body between free radicals and antioxidants is skewed. This causes issues with our bodies natural ability to fight or “detox” against their negative effects.
What is a Free Radical?
Free Radicals are Oxygen containing molecules that have one unpaired electron and are the natural waste from reactions in the body. Free Radicals are linked to human disease (see the list of diseases below), which can come from both internal and external forces.
To further simplify: Healthy bodies have a healthy balance of antioxidants and free radicals when they are “out of whack” oxidative stress is created and as with most things in life, too much of anything will have a negative effect on the body.
Oxidative stress is no exception.
List of Contributing Factors to Oxidative Stress
- Toxic Chemicals and Pollutants
- Hydrogenated Fats (Throw out that Cool Whip)
- Environmental Pollution
- Smoke (Cigars, cigarettes, burning plastics, grilling, etc) -direct and second hand
- Excess Sugar
- Excess Animal Protein
- Prescription Meds
- Cleaning Chemicals
- Life Stress
How Oxidative Stress Happens in the Body
When we breathe, the body metabolizes the Oxygen, which in turn creates free radicals. The free radicals like to play with our cells at the molecular level which leads to causing stress and damage to the surrounding cells. Also affected are our DNA and the local Mitochondria.
Signs of Oxidative Stress and Why It Occurs in the body
When the body has more reactive oxygen being produced and is greater than the bodies ability to detoxify, oxidative stress causes damage to the proteins, molecules, and genes in our body.
If the body is under the effect of oxidative stress there will be a number of signs pointing to it. Individually none are a clear and tell-tale sign of oxidative stress, but as they add up, consider looking into what is happening in your body. Remember, healthy bodies have a balance of antioxidants and free radicals.
Side Effects of Oxidative Stress:
- Memory loss/brain fog
- Muscle/joint pain
- Wrinkles and gray hair
- Reduced eyesight
- Headaches/noise sensitivity
Diseases caused by Oxidative Stress
When the body has an increase of oxidative stress damage at the cellular level begins. This damage often leads to chronic illness and disease. If not checked and remedied there are some very serious diseases that can happen to the body. These are some of the possible diseases caused by oxidative stress in the body:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Post-ischemic perfusion injury
- Myocardial infarction
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic inflammation
- Neurodegenerative diseases: Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s.
Can you reduce Oxidative Stress in your body?
Yes. One of the wonderful aspects of the human body is its ability to correct its condition by delivering to it, exactly what it needs. When the body is in oxidative stress, the conditions created are due to the imbalance. To reverse the condition, re-establish the balance between the free radicals and the antioxidants in the body. The balance will help relieve the Oxidative Stress and may even help with the chronic conditions created.
Avoid the factors that create oxidative stress. The two ways are to decrease your exposure to oxidation and increase your antioxidants.
Here are 5 Easy Steps to reducing Oxidative Stress
- Eat a healthy diet: Increase your plant and vegetable intake. Add in kale, broccoli, and beets into your food regimen. These are excellent sources of antioxidants. Additionally, herbs and spices like green tea and ginger will provide health benefits. Immediately stop your sugar intake and consumption of processed foods. Sugar and processed foods have incredibly negative effects on the body. By removing these, you will begin seeing immediate benefits of a reduced oxidative stress.
- Exercise: Begin working out or increase your time and intensity of exercise
- Throw out Toxic Cleaners: Time for a home cleanse. Getting rid of all the chemical based cleaners will help lower your toxin intake levels
- Create Peace In Your Life: Reduce life stress. Journal, meditate, do yoga, or see a therapist to begin clearing stress out of your life.
- Rest: Make sure you are getting enough rest. This is the time that the body heals an repairs any damages. When you do not get enough rest, your body will not have the recovery time to heal its injuries.
These are the most important steps you can take to reversing or avoiding oxidative stress altogether. It becomes about a lifestyle change and making the decision that your health is a priority. The good news is that by making the change to a healthier lifestyle now, you will be receiving much greater benefits to the body. Too often we wait too long and the damage is done. While oxidative stress can be reversed, if kept unchecked for an extended period, the chronic disease caused can be life threatening. Do not wait until it is to late. Begin today by taking easy steps to a healthier lifestyle.