When an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants happens in your body, it leads to oxidative stress. These free radicals can cause cell and tissue damage in your body, thereby affecting the natural aging process.
As per research, long-term oxidative damage can lead to various chronic conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes among other things. In this article, we take a look at what is oxidative stress, oxidative stress causes and more. Let’s read on to understand better.
What is Oxidative Stress?
Free radicals refer to the oxygen containing molecules in your body, with an uneven number of electrons. This uneven number of free radicals makes them react with other molecules and leads to a chain of chemical reactions, called oxidation. These oxidations or reactions can either be good for your body or be extremely harmful. While oxidation is a normal process that occurs in your body, oxidative stress is the result of a serious imbalance between your body’s free radical and antioxidant activity.
A surplus of free radicals in your body can cause oxidative damage to your DNA, tissues, and protein, which make up a large part of your body. This damage can lead to some serious health problems, such as the following.
- High blood pressure
- Heart diseases
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
- Chronic diseases like cancer
Oxidative stress also speeds up aging.
Causes of Oxidative Stress
We all produce a normal amount of free radicals in our body with normal bodily processes like exercising or inflammation. This is necessary to fight off infections and stay healthy. However, certain things can expose you to free radicals produced in the environment around you and then cause damage to your body. Below we list out some possible oxidative stress causes.
- UV rays
- Strong pesticide sprays and cleaners
- Cigarette smoke
- Exposure to radiation
- Air pollution
- Excessive alcohol consumption
- Diet rich in fats and sugar
How to Manage Oxidative Stress
While you cannot completely avoid free radical activity or oxidative stress from occurring in your body, you can definitely take certain measures to minimize its effects. The primary step to take is to increase your intake of antioxidants and decrease the intake of free radical causing substances. To add to antioxidants in your body, you can have a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet, such as:
- Citrus fruits
- Leafy greens
- Olives, and more
You can also try other dietary supplements such as:
- Vitamin C & E
- Green tea
- Melatonin, and more
Daily Greens by Wellbeing Nutrition is another dietary supplement that contains different vegetables and fruits in one single effervescent tablet. One tablet in water everyday will provide you with your daily antioxidant requirement and help you stay healthy.
Other ways to fight oxidative stress include the incorporation of a healthy and balanced routine and exercise regimen. Exercise has been associated with fighting free radical activity and keeping your oxidative stress low. This will ensure you have healthy skin, slow the signs of aging, and decrease your risk of developing conditions like cancer and diabetes. It would also be recommended that you avoid smoking, as well as exposure to harmful sun rays and strong chemicals.
- Application of sunscreen while going out
- Taking environmentally conscious decisions, such as carpooling, etc.
- Decreasing your alcohol intake
- Getting a good amount of sleep
- Following a healthy diet
These are all ways in which you can ensure your body does not go through extensive oxidative stress and damage and remain free of diseases. Lifestyle plays a big role in deciding your health and wellbeing, so make sure you adopt healthy lifestyle habits.
- Pizzino G, Irrera N, Cucinotta M, et al. Oxidative Stress: Harms and Benefits for Human Health. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017;2017:8416763. doi:10.1155/2017/8416763, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5551541/)
- Liguori I, Russo G, Curcio F, et al. Oxidative stress, aging, and diseases. Clin Interv Aging. 2018;13:757-772. Published 2018 Apr 26. doi:10.2147/CIA.S158513. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5927356/)
- Burton GJ, Jauniaux E. Oxidative stress. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol. 2011;25(3):287-299. doi:10.1016/j.bpobgyn.2010.10.016. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3101336/)
- Benefits of Physical Activity, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm)