Stress is common and it’s known as a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.
But what is oxidative stress? Oxidative stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects through neutralization by antioxidants.
And what are free radicals? A free radical is an oxygen containing molecule that has one or more unpaired electrons, making it highly reactive with other molecules. Oxygen by-products are relatively un-reactive but some of these can undergo metabolism within the biological system to give rise to these highly reactive oxidants. Not all reactive oxygen species are harmful to the body. Some of them are useful in killing invading pathogens or microbes.
However, free radicals can chemically interact with cell components such as DNA, protein or lipid and steal their electrons in order to become stabilized. This, in turn, destabilizes the cell component molecules which then seek and steal an electron from another molecule, therefore triggering a large chain of free radical reactions.
When present in excess, free radicals caused by oxidants can seriously damage DNA by ripping it apart. Cells containing damaged DNA can’t function properly, and we know this kind of damage can cause cells to become mutants, and some can go on to be cancerous.
To clearly understand oxidative stress, it is like an apple turning brown when exposed to air, our cells can “rust” when we breathe due to oxidative stress, a process caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage or “oxidize” cells throughout the body in a process called oxidative stress.
Research indicates that oxidative stress is an underlying cause of cancer, so understanding and preventing it is a smart strategy for our wellness.
WHY OXIDATION HAPPENS?
Oxidative stress occurs when the production of reactive oxygen is greater than the body’s ability to detoxify the reactive intermediates. This imbalance leads to oxidative damage to proteins, molecules, and genes within the body. Oxidation happens under a number of circumstances including:
- When our cellls use glucose to make energy
- When the immune system is fighting off bacteria and creating inflammation
- When our bodies detoxify pollutants, pesticides and cigarette smoke.
There are millions of processes taking place in our bodies at any moment that can result in oxidation.
Oxidation increases when we are physically and/or emotionally stressed. And as long as we have enough anti-oxidants, a careful balance is maintained and damage is prevented.
Oxidative stress happens when the amount of free radicals exceeds the amount of anti-oxidants. That’s the time when oxidation damages our cells, proteins and our DNA (genes).
SOME FOODS CONTAINING FREE RADICALS
Some foods contain free radicals, which add to your body’s burden:
- Fats and Oils. Fats and oils can become oxidized during storage as a result of exposure to light, air or heat.
- Cooked and Processed Meats.
- Alcohol Risks.
- Antioxidant Supplements
SYMPTOMS OF OXIDATIVE STRESS
- Memory loss and/or brain fog.
- Muscle and/or joint pain.
- Wrinkles and grey hair.
- Decreased eye sight.
- Headaches and sensitivity to noise.
- Susceptibility to infections.
DISEASES ASSOCIATED WITH OXIDATIVE STRESS
Overproduction of free radicals can cause oxidative damage to biomolecules, (lipids, proteins, DNA), eventually leading to many chronic diseases such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Post-ischemic perfusion injury
- Myocardial infarction
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Chronic inflammation
REDUCING OXIDATIVE STRESS
Oxidation increases when we are exposed to stress, toxins and infections. It is also increased by sugar and chemicals, so the more you can minimize your exposure to these things, the better.
- Avoid sugar and processed foods while balancing our blood sugar levels.
- Prevent infections – when the immune system is fighting off an infection, it ends up creating oxidation, that is why when we get sick, it drains our body of energy.
- Allow time for daily stress remedies – we need to build breaks into our day – to give our body a chance to recover.
Some ideas for daily stress remedies:
- Enjoying nature
- Watching a funny show
- Taking a walk
- Avoid toxins – Choose organic foods and avoid cigarettes, candles, hair and nail salons, carpet, exhaust fumes and plastic. Check your personal care and cleaning products for toxic ingredients and replace them with non-toxic alternatives.
- l Increasing anti-oxidants – no matter what you do to avoid them, you are going to be exposed to some toxins and stress, so the next step to increase the anti-oxidants you have in your system either by helping your body make more or by consuming them in food or supplements. What anti-oxidants do is block oxidation. They squelch it and make it non-harmful.
- l Promote the production of anti-oxidants – one of the most powerful anti-oxidants is glutathione which is produced by the body. It is made from three amino acids – glycine, glatamate and cysteine and it contains sulfur, which makes it so effective.
Foods that help body produce more glutathione:
Foods high in sulfur:
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards and cabbage
Or supplements that contain:
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
- Alpha lipoic acid
- Eat foods that are high in anti-oxidants – you can add to what your body produces by eating foods that are high in anri-oxidants every day. These tend to be the foods that are the most colorful like:
Other good sources of anti-oxidants:
- Nuts and seeds
- Green and black tea
And other sources such as:
- Curcumin (also known as turmeric)
The more anti-oxidant you eat, the better you can counter oxidation and prevent oxidative stress.
- Take herbs that are high in anti-oxidants – research indicates that the four leading herbal sources of anti-oxidants are:
- Green tea
- Curcumin (turmeric)
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