WHAT IS OXIDATIVE STRESS?
The process of oxidation happens as our bodies metabolize the oxygen that we breathe and our cells produce energy from it. This process also produces Free Radicals –which interact with the molecules within our cells resulting in damage or stress to healthy cells, mitochondria, and our DNA (our genes). Free radicals are a byproduct of energy consumption in our mitochondria, the factories that produce energy in each of our cells.
External Factors of Oxidative Stress
These factors in your lifestyle and environment can contribute to the production of Free Radicals:
Eating too many calories, sugars and/or refined carbohydrates, Exercising too much or too little, Excessive alcohol consumption, Exposure to tobacco smoke, Exposure to air pollutants, Excessive stress, Exposure to the sun, x-rays, radon, hair dryers, cellphones, airplanes, electric blankets and waterbed heaters, Eating charbroiled foods, Exposure to fungal toxins and environmental molds (like those in bathrooms and basements) and internal molds and fungi (those related to your gut), Poor liver and gut detoxification, Lack of sleep, Chronic infections, Dental infections and Chlamydia(yeast) can cause hidden infections that contribute to oxidative stress.
HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE OXIDATIVE STRESS?
Here are a few signs to look out for:
Memory loss and/or brain fog
Muscle and/or joint pain
Susceptibility to infections
Oxidative stress has also been associated with numerous health conditions including chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, insomnia, cancer, and more.
How Do You Counteract Oxidative Stress and Free Radicals?
The reduction of oxidative stress can be achieved by lowering exposure to environmental pollutants with oxidizing properties and by increasing your levels of antioxidants. The body naturally produces antioxidants like superoxide dismutase, catalase, and an assortment of peroxidase enzymes, as a means of defending itself against free radicals. The antioxidants neutralize the free radicals, thereby rendering them harmless to other cells.
Unfortunately, the antioxidants produced naturally by the body are not enough to neutralize all of the free radicals in the body. Therefore, a constant supply of external sources of antioxidants should be a part of one’s daily diet, in order to reduce oxidative stress and related damage.
Antioxidants have the remarkable ability to repair damaged molecules by donating hydrogen atoms to the molecules. Some antioxidants even have a chelating effect on free radical production that’s catalyzed by heavy metals. In this situation, the antioxidant contains the heavy metal molecules so strongly that the chemical reaction necessary to create a free radical never occurs. When the chelating antioxidant is water-soluble, it also causes the removal of the heavy metals from the body via the urine.
Avoid sugar and processed foods while balancing your blood sugar levels
When the body has to process sugar it also creates oxidation and the more sugar we eat, the more oxidation happens. Processed foods often contain sugar and/or other chemicals that also result in oxidation. Eating large and infrequent meals also creates more oxidative stress, so balancing your blood sugar by eating smaller, frequent meals, also helps.
Incoroprate stress reduction in your day
It seems so simple, but it really pays off. These are some ideas to reduce your daily stress:
Exercise, Meditation. Spend time with a friend, Enjoy the outdoors, Journaling, Difusing essential oils, Deep breathing, Taking a walk on the beach, just do something you enjoy!
Choose organic foods and avoid cigarettes, candles, hair and nail salons, BBQ, exhaust fumes and plastic. Check your personal care and cleaning products for toxic ingredients and replace them with non-toxic alternatives.
Promote the production of antioxidants
One of the most powerful antioxidants is glutathione which is produced by the body. It is made from three amino acids – glycine, glutamate, and cysteine – and it contains sulfur, which is what makes it so effective. Foods that help your body to make more glutathione include:
Foods that are high in sulfur:
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collards, and cabbage
- Fruits like kiwi, bananas, pineapple and strawberries
- Eggs(particularly the yolks)
Eat foods that are high in antioxidants
You can add to what your body produces by eating foods that are high in antioxidants every day. These tend to be the foods that are the most colorful. Eat from the Rainbow.
Flavenoid antioxidants actually attach themselves to one’s DNA, forming a barrier of protection against free radical attacks, while some antioxidants even have the ability to cause some types of cancer cells to self-destruct in a process called apoptosis.
Good sources of antioxidants include:
- Nuts and seeds
- Green and black tea