Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules. Free radicals can cause large chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so easily with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation. They can be beneficial or harmful.
Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical without making themselves unstable. This causes the free radical to stabilize and become less reactive.
Effects of Oxidative Stress on the Body
Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in your body. Oxidative stress, on the other hand, occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. When functioning properly, free radicals can help fight off pathogens. Pathogens lead to infections.
When there are more free radicals present than can be kept in balance by antioxidants, the free radicals can start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. Proteins, lipids, and DNA make up a large part of your body, so that damage can lead to a vast number of diseases over time.
• Atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the blood vessels
• Inflammatory conditions
• High blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension
• Heart disease
• Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Oxidative stress also contributes significantly to aging.
What are the Risk Factors?
Everyone produces some free radicals naturally in their body through processes like exercise or inflammation. This is normal and part of the body’s intricate system of keeping itself healthy.
You may also be exposed to free radicals in the environment.
Some sources include:
• Certain pesticides and cleaners
• Cigarette smoke
• A diet high in sugar, fat, and alcohol may also contribute to free radical production.
Managing and Preventing Oxidative Stress
It’s impossible to completely avoid free radical exposure and oxidative stress. However, there are things you can do to minimize the effects of oxidative stress on your body. The main thing you can do is to increase your levels of antioxidants and decrease your formation of free radicals.
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(Source: https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress – Medically reviewed by Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP on December 13, 2017 — Written by Megan Dix, RN, BSN)
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.