Oxidative Stress: What You Should Know
Stress is almost never a good thing. But there’s one kind of stress that’s particularly damaging to your body.
It’s called oxidative stress.
Your body contains two important but different kinds of compounds: free radicals and antioxidants.
Free radicals are atoms within your cells that contain unpaired electrons…making them extremely unstable and reactive.
Antioxidants, on the other hand, are compounds that can donate an electron to a free radical (thereby making it less reactive) without becoming unstable themselves.
So why are free radicals and antioxidants important?
Oxygen atoms in your body react to form free radicals…either as oxygen molecules or as parts of other molecules.
The chemical processes that make your body run properly require free radicals to work. In particular, free radicals help your immune system detect and fight off pathogens.
Antioxidants, on the other hand, regulate those processes by soaking up excess free radicals to maintain balance.
When your body does not have enough antioxidants to maintain proper free radical balance, this can cause a condition known as oxidative stress.
Why is oxidative stress a problem?
Excess free radicals can damage your body’s cells because they react so easily with other molecules.
In particular, free radicals can react with cells contained within fats, proteins, and DNA, eventually causing significant health issues like:
- High blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and other cardiovascular problems
- Degenerative neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
- Aging-related issues
What causes oxidative stress?
Your body naturally produces free radicals when you exercise or in response to inflammation. It’s how your body repairs itself and fights off disease.
Excess free radicals in your body, however, can be caused by:
- Your environment: pollutants, radiation, chemicals (such as pesticides and cleaning supplies), and cigarette smoke.
- Your diet: overconsumption of fat, sugar, alcohol, and certain minerals (like iron).
- Prolonged or excessive exercise.
- Excessive levels of certain hormones, like cortisol.
Can you limit oxidative stress?
There’s no way to completely prevent oxidative stress. It’s a natural process.
However…prolonged oxidative stress can negatively affect your health and cause premature aging (as described above).
Fortunately, there are several ways you can limit its duration and effects:
- Add antioxidants to your diet
Many foods are high in antioxidants.
– Fruits (citrus, berries, cherries and prunes)
– Vegetables (dark leafy greens, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, and onions)
– spices including turmeric, garlic, and cinnamon
– green tea
Experts recommend five servings a day to make sure you get an adequate supply of antioxidants.
Regular, moderate exercise boosts your antioxidant levels and reduces oxidative stress. Thirty minutes of aerobic activity (such as walking, jogging or cycling) every day will give you the benefits you need. But don’t overdo it. Intense and prolonged exercise can actually cause oxidative stress.
- Hormone balance
Some hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, and melatonin are antioxidants. Others, such as cortisol, can cause oxidative stress. Maintaining proper hormone balance can be a key to proper oxidative balance.
When you’re asleep, your body repairs itself. This includes repairing the damage from daily oxidative stress. As a result, adequate sleep is crucial for maintaining the proper balance between antioxidants and free radicals within your body.
Even with all those dietary sources, you may not get enough antioxidants from diet alone.
Vitamin E and vitamin C supplements provide an easy way to get additional antioxidants into your body. Other supplements include alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, and melatonin. If you want the grandmother of all antioxidants, glutathione injections are an option.
Having said all that, we encourage a measured approach. Taking too much by way of antioxidants comes with its own risks. Consult with an expert to make sure you’re taking the right amounts.
Is oxidative stress aging your body before its time?
Renew Youth can help. Call us at 800-859-7511 or use our contact form to set up your free 30-minute consultation.