What Is Oxidative Stress
And Why Is It Bad?

The term “oxidative stress” appears in news stories about health and the environment, but few people fully understand the word.

oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is a slightly confusing term for many, as it involves an imbalance between two equally misunderstood substances within the human body: antioxidants and free radicals.

Oxidative stress, when not managed properly, can cause several complex problems, including slow healing, poor immunity, and even the rise of various chronic diseases. People are advised to balance their free radicals by getting more antioxidants into their system.

Let’s look at oxidative stress and why it’s a problem.

Defining Free Radicals and Antioxidants

As mentioned above, oxidative stress happens to your body when you lack a balance between antioxidants and free radicals.

free radicals

The free radicals in your body are one of the things causing the most damage. They’re a molecule with an uneven number of electrons, which means they can quickly react more aggressively with other molecules in the body. Free radicals can cause chemical reactions, leading to cell damage and other health issues.

Antioxidants, on the other hand, are the primary cure for free radicals. They can give an extra electron to a free radical to stabilize it without themselves becoming unstable. You have nothing to worry about if your free radical and antioxidant levels are balanced. However, if you have more free radicals than antioxidants in your system, this is where issues begin.

What’s the Problem with Oxidative Stress?

Oxidation isn’t all bad, though it can sound a little worrying. It’s an ordinary and necessary process in the human body. However, oxidative stress happens when too many free radicals are in your body, and oxidation becomes problematic.

oxidative stress

Keep in mind free radicals, when functioning correctly, can help fight off dangerous pathogens which lead to infections. Problems only occur when there are more free radicals in your system than you can reasonably keep “in balance” with antioxidants.

When allowed to grow out of control, free radicals can begin to cause various forms of damage in the body, harming fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins.

The various side effects of free radicals can lead to chronic and dangerous diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and even certain neurodegenerative diseases.

Oxidative stress can also make you age faster than usual, so people trying to stay young focus on getting lots of antioxidants in their diet

While anyone can be exposed to free radicals, some people are more exposed than others, particularly those surrounded by cigarette smoke, radiation, and pollution.

How Do You Manage Oxidative Stress?

The good news for those concerned about the negative impacts of oxidative stress is that there are things you can do to solve the problem. While avoiding free radical exposure altogether is impossible, you can minimize the impact of oxidative stress on your body.

oxidative stress 2

The best way to balance free radicals is to increase the antioxidants you consume. These substances are found in various food sources, mainly fruits and vegetables.

Dark leafy greens, as are olives, cherries, berries, citrus fruits, carrots, broccoli, and tomatoes, are highly antioxidants. You can also get more antioxidants by consuming certain ingredients, like turmeric, vitamin C, E, garlic, cinnamon, and onion.

Outside of changing your diet, the best ways to manage oxidative stress are with:

   ● Regular exercise: Getting plenty of activity daily is one of the best things you can do to maintain good health. A good exercise routine is associated with higher antioxidant levels and fewer problems caused by oxidative stress. Plus, exercise improves your chances of a longer lifespan.

   ● Reducing bad habits: Reducing bad habits, like smoking, is an excellent way to reduce exposure to free radicals. It’s also essential to avoid sunbeds and wear sunscreen outside to protect yourself from UV light.

use chemicals with caution

   ● Use chemicals with caution: Try to stay away from chemicals as much as possible. Reduce your exposure to cleaning chemicals, pesticides, and sources of pollution.

   ● Get plenty of sleep: Sleep is almost as good for you as getting exercise and eating a healthy diet. The more you sleep, the more you’ll be able to maintain a good antioxidant and free radical balance, with better brain and hormone function.

   ● Reduce binge eating: Studies indicate that constant eating or overeating can be more likely to place you in a state of oxidative stress.

Bottom Line?  Be aware of what you eat and get adequate sleep.  Get plenty of exercise, reduce or eliminate bad habits, and you’ll do well.

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