And Overwhelms Your Immune System
Is your life making you oxidative stressed?
Oxidation. The process that causes the browning of a sliced apple or rust on your car. Oxidation does not only wear on objects when they come in contact with oxygen, but it is an inescapable reaction involved with several processes in the body. Even the necessary act of breathing forms oxidation as a byproduct of the reaction.
Now that you have a basic understanding of oxidation, what is oxidative stress? Essentially, oxidative stress is an imbalance between damaging oxidants and antioxidants.
Every cell that uses enzymes and oxygen to function is exposed to oxidants, also known as free radical reactions. If antioxidant molecules are present, they can stabilize free radical molecules by donating an electron to the highly reactive free radical that has unpaired electrons. However, when the body is low in antioxidants, oxidative stress, or free radical damage, can accumulate to cause chronic ailments and diseases.
What lifestyle choices cause oxidative stress? Dietary habits, physical stress, and environmental toxins.
Poor dietary habits
The foods we choose to eat can either add to the development of oxidative stress or lessen the load. Processed, high fat, sugary foods create more oxidative damage and inflammation in the body.1,2 This leads to greater fatigue, weakened immunity, mood imbalances, and disease. Avoid processed food, saturated and trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and sugar.
Choose to eat more whole foods that are rich in antioxidants – free radical-fighting substances. These foods include colorful fruits and vegetables and healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, and avocado. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, grapeseed extract, selenium, resveratrol, catechins, quercetin, polyphenols, alpha lipoic acid, and other nutrients.3 These compounds are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Physical, emotional, and mental stress can reduce the body’s supply of antioxidants and leave you susceptible to oxidative damage.4 Proper nutrients can help your nervous system handle stress. B vitamins, calcium, and magnesium are essential vitamins that can moderate the stress response.5
Alcohol, smoking, and medications
Alcohol can have a strong impact on the production of oxidative stress, because it is not metabolized in the liver – leading to alcoholic liver disease.6,7 The development of oxidative stress is also related to smoking, which suppresses the immune response and damages lung function.8 What may seem like a surprising factor is the use of pharmaceutical drugs and radiation. Certain medications and medical treatments can trigger oxidative stress in the body.9,10
How can you limit oxidative stress?
Eat less, move more, get rid of unhealthy lifestyle choices, and boost your intake of antioxidants. We come in contact with environmental toxins and stress on a daily basis. No one is immune, but we can reduce the effects of oxidative stress by improving our lifestyle choices. Eat more fresh antioxidant-rich foods, choose smaller portions, start exercising, seek help to quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and discover how you best manage stress.
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2 Sies, H., Stahl, W., & Sevanian, A. (2005). Nutritional, dietary and postprandial oxidative stress. The Journal of nutrition, 135(5), 969-972.
3 Zhang PY, Xu X, Li XC. Cardiovascular diseases: oxidative damage and antioxidant protection. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2014 Oct;18(20):3091-6.
4 Cernak I, Savic V, Kotur J, et al. Alterations in magnesium and oxidative status during chronic emotional stress. Magnesium Research. 2000;13(1):29-36.
5 Zaidi SM, Banu N. Antioxidant potential of vitamins A, E and C in modulating oxidative stress in rat brain. Clin Chim Acta. 2004 Feb;340(1-2):229-33.
6 Grasselli E, Compalati AD, Voci A, et al. Altered oxidative stress/antioxidant status in blood of alcoholic subjects is associated with alcoholic liver disease. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 Oct 1;143:112-9.
7 Wu D, Cederbaum AI. Alcohol, oxidative stress, and free radical damage. Alcohol Research and Health. 2003;27:277-284.
8 Zuo L, He F, Sergakis GG, et al. Interrelated role of cigarette smoking, oxidative stress, and immune response in COPD and corresponding treatments. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2014 Aug 1;307(3):L205-18.
9 Robbins ME, Zhao W. Chronic oxidative stress and radiation-induced late normal tissue injury: a review. International J of Radiation Biology. 2004;80(4):251-259.
10 Cadenas E, Davies K. Mitochondrial free radical generation, oxidative stress, and aging. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2000; 29(3):222-230.