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Wellness

What Is Oxidative Stress? An Overview

9 Mins read

Oxidative stress is the name given to the imbalance between antioxidants (positive substances) and free radicals (negative invaders) in your body. When your antioxidant levels are low and free radicals in your body are high, this can lead to an increased risk of various health conditions and illnesses, including diabetes, acne, depression, and more.

In some cases, excessive exposure to oxidative stress can also cause the breakdown of tissues and cells in the body. While research into the effects of oxidative stress is still ongoing, most experts agree it’s best to avoid this imbalance when possible.

With links to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, and depression, Oxidative stress can play a significant role in anyone’s well-being.

Free Radicals and Antioxidants: The Imbalance Known as Oxidative Stress

To understand oxidative stress, you first need to understand the imbalance behind the issue. Oxidative stress happens when your antioxidant levels are low, and the number of free radicals in your system is high. Antioxidants are powerful molecules in your body, capable of fending off cancer, disease, fighting the signs of aging, and even neutralizing free radicals.

Free radicals are essentially unstable atoms that cause havoc throughout the body. These atoms damage cells, and are linked to a host of diseases, due to their ability to break down important molecules. As the body ages, it also naturally loses some of its natural ability to fight these free radicals, which means our levels of oxidative stress grows.

Antioxidants can donate electrons to other molecules such as free radicals without making themselves unstable, which can stabilize the free radical, reducing the negative impact on your body.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have enough free radicals in your system to counteract all the free radicals you’re exposed to, you end up losing the battle against cell damage. The resulting imbalance (oxidative stress) can lead to a variety of conditions when the free radicals start damaging fatty tissues, proteins, and DNA in your body.

Some potential outcomes of oxidative stress include:

  • Accelerated aging
  • Heart disease
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels)
  • Central nervous system diseases
  • Cataracts and age-related vision problems
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic degenerative diseases
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
circlemagazine-circledna-oxidative-stress

Who’s At Higher Risk Of Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress is something we can all suffer from throughout our lives. Everyone naturally produces some free radicals in their body through exercise. We can also create additional free radicals as a result of inflammation, from injury or illness.

Experts also believe certain people are also more likely to be exposed to free radicals because of their environment or lifestyle choices. Substances which may increase free radicals in your system include:

  • Environmental pollution
  • Ozone problems
  • Exposure to toxic metals
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Exposure to pesticides and cleaners
  • Radiation

Diets high in sugar, fat and alcohol can also contribute to the production of free radicals, which is why it’s so important to eat a diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients to stay healthy.

There’s also some research that indicates genetics could play a role in how effective your body might be at neutralizing free radicals. In some individuals, the mechanisms available to fight the production of free radicals don’t work as well as they do in others. The good news is that you can still improve your chance of beating free radicals, by increasing your antioxidant levels.

How to Manage and Prevent Oxidative Stress

A genetic test, such as a DNA test from Circle DNA, can provide you with an insight into how likely you are to be at risk of high levels of oxidative stress. If your exposure is significant, you can take various steps to adjust your lifestyle, and avoid free radicals.

Some of the best ways to prevent or reduce oxidative stress include:

  • Exercising regularly: Experts have found a consistent exercise routine helps the body to produce natural antioxidants, while decreasing the potential damage caused by oxidative stress. The CDC and other major healthcare groups associate regular exercise with a longer lifespan, reduced risk of disease, and slower aging.
  • Quit smoking: Cigarette smoke is one of the most common substances known for increasing the balance of free radicals in your system. Speak to your healthcare provider about getting help to quit smoking and try to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Be cautious with chemicals: Many people are already making the switch to more natural cleaning products these days, to support the environment and protect the ozone layer. Avoiding substances with a lot of chemicals can help to protect against free radicals. It also helps to buy organic food and produce which hasn’t been exposed to pesticides.
  • Be environmentally conscious: Pollution can contribute significantly to oxidative stress. While you may not be able to avoid all forms of pollution, you can do your part to reduce it. Take part in environmentally-friendly strategies such as carpooling, and composting. Find ways to help your community reduce pollution.
  • Sun protection: The sun’s ultraviolet light is a form of radiation, though many of us forget how dangerous it can be. Wearing sunscreen and protecting your skin from the sun (even when it’s not too hot outside), can reduce free radicals.
  • Decrease alcohol intake: Similar to cigarette smoke, alcohol intake is frequently associated with a higher portion of free radicals in the body. Reducing your alcohol intake will protect you from oxidative stress and help your body to thrive.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Plenty of sleep is an important step in protecting all of your body’s systems, from antioxidant and free radical balance to hormone production and brain function. Getting the right amount of rest each day will ensure your body has the strength it needs to perform optimally in any environment.
  • Avoid overeating: Studies indicate excessive overeating or binge eating can keep the body in a state of oxidative stress more than if you eat moderate portions. Consider keeping a food diary to keep track of your eating habits or look into the benefits of portion control.
  • Eat foods high in antioxidants: More on this below.

How Antioxidants Combat Oxidative Stress

Since Antioxidants are your best tool in fighting free radicals, one of the best things you can do to prevent oxidative stress is increase your antioxidant intake. Eat foods high in antioxidants. Simply taking supplements is rarely good enough to achieve the right results when batting oxidative stress. You’ll need to get the right foods in your diet to ensure you’re getting the full nutritional benefit of each substance.

Some of the most crucial types of antioxidants you’ll need to include in your diet are vitamins A, C and E, CoQ10, and selenium. 

To find out the diet that suits you best based on your unique DNA, read your genetic diet and nutrition reports from CircleDNA after taking the CircleDNA test.

Oxidative stress is the name given to the imbalance between antioxidants (positive substances) and free radicals (negative invaders) in your body. When your antioxidant levels are low and free radicals in your body are high, this can lead to an increased risk of various health conditions and illnesses, including diabetes, acne, depression, and more.

In some cases, excessive exposure to oxidative stress can also cause the breakdown of tissues and cells in the body. While research into the effects of oxidative stress is still ongoing, most experts agree it’s best to avoid this imbalance when possible.

With links to Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, and depression, Oxidative stress can play a significant role in anyone’s well-being.

circlemagazine-circledna-oxidative-stress

Free Radicals and Antioxidants: The Imbalance Known as Oxidative Stress

To understand oxidative stress, you first need to understand the imbalance behind the issue. Oxidative stress happens when your antioxidant levels are low, and the number of free radicals in your system is high. Antioxidants are powerful molecules in your body, capable of fending off cancer, disease, fighting the signs of aging, and even neutralizing free radicals.

Free radicals are essentially unstable atoms which cause havoc throughout the body. These atoms damage cells, and are linked to a host of diseases, due to their ability to break down important molecules. As the body ages, it also naturally loses some of its natural ability to fight these free radicals, which means our levels of oxidative stress grows.

Antioxidants can donate electrons to other molecules such as free radicals without making themselves unstable, which can stabilize the free radical, reducing the negative impact on your body.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have enough free radicals in your system to counteract all the free radicals you’re exposed to, you end up losing the battle against cell damage. The resulting imbalance (oxidative stress) can lead to a variety of conditions when the free radicals start damaging fatty tissues, proteins, and DNA in your body.

Some potential outcomes of oxidative stress include:

  • Accelerated aging
  • Heart disease
  • Atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels)
  • Central nervous system diseases
  • Cataracts and age-related vision problems
  • Diabetes
  • Genetic degenerative diseases
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

Who’s At Higher Risk Of Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress is something we can all suffer from throughout our lives. Everyone naturally produces some free radicals in their body through exercise. We can also create additional free radicals as a result of inflammation, from injury or illness.

Experts also believe certain people are also more likely to be exposed to free radicals because of their environment or lifestyle choices. Substances which may increase free radicals in your system include:

  • Environmental pollution
  • Ozone problems
  • Exposure to toxic metals
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Exposure to pesticides and cleaners
  • Radiation

Diets high in sugar, fat and alcohol can also contribute to the production of free radicals, which is why it’s so important to eat a diet rich in antioxidants and nutrients to stay healthy.

There’s also some research that indicates genetics could play a role in how effective your body might be at neutralizing free radicals. In some individuals, the mechanisms available to fight the production of free radicals don’t work as well as they do in others. The good news is that you can still improve your chance of beating free radicals, by increasing your antioxidant levels.

How to Manage and Prevent Oxidative Stress

A genetic test, such as a DNA test from Circle DNA, can provide you with an insight into how likely you are to be at risk of high levels of oxidative stress. If your exposure is significant, you can take various steps to adjust your lifestyle, and avoid free radicals.

Some of the best ways to prevent or reduce oxidative stress include:

  • Exercising regularly: Experts have found a consistent exercise routine helps the body to produce natural antioxidants, while decreasing the potential damage caused by oxidative stress. The CDC and other major healthcare groups associate regular exercise with a longer lifespan, reduced risk of disease, and slower aging.
  • Quit smoking: Cigarette smoke is one of the most common substances known for increasing the balance of free radicals in your system. Speak to your healthcare provider about getting help to quit smoking and try to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke.
  • Be cautious with chemicals: Many people are already making the switch to more natural cleaning products these days, to support the environment and protect the ozone layer. Avoiding substances with a lot of chemicals can help to protect against free radicals. It also helps to buy organic food and produce which hasn’t been exposed to pesticides.
  • Be environmentally conscious: Pollution can contribute significantly to oxidative stress. While you may not be able to avoid all forms of pollution, you can do your part to reduce it. Take part in environmentally-friendly strategies such as carpooling, and composting. Find ways to help your community reduce pollution.
  • Sun protection: The sun’s ultraviolet light is a form of radiation, though many of us forget how dangerous it can be. Wearing sunscreen and protecting your skin from the sun (even when it’s not too hot outside), can reduce free radicals.
  • Decrease alcohol intake: Similar to cigarette smoke, alcohol intake is frequently associated with a higher portion of free radicals in the body. Reducing your alcohol intake will protect you from oxidative stress and help your body to thrive.
  • Get plenty of sleep: Plenty of sleep is an important step in protecting all of your body’s systems, from antioxidant and free radical balance to hormone production and brain function. Getting the right amount of rest each day will ensure your body has the strength it needs to perform optimally in any environment.
  • Avoid overeating: Studies indicate excessive overeating or binge eating can keep the body in a state of oxidative stress more than if you eat moderate portions. Consider keeping a food diary to keep track of your eating habits or look into the benefits of portion control.
  • Eat foods high in antioxidants: More on this below.

How Antioxidants Combat Oxidative Stress

Since Antioxidants are your best tool in fighting free radicals, one of the best things you can do to prevent oxidative stress is increase your antioxidant intake. Eat foods high in antioxidants. Simply taking supplements is rarely good enough to achieve the right results when batting oxidative stress. You’ll need to get the right foods in your diet to ensure you’re getting the full nutritional benefit of each substance.

Some of the most crucial types of antioxidants you’ll need to include in your diet are vitamins A, C and E, CoQ10, and selenium. 

To find out the diet that suits you best based on your unique DNA, read your genetic diet and nutrition reports from CircleDNA after taking the CircleDNA test.

Rebekah Carter
127 posts

About author
Rebekah is a committed copywriter and freelance content producer with a history in the technology, marketing, and health sectors. She’s worked with leading brands around the world, and is constantly searching for new ways to expand her knowledge, and skills.
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