The term “oxidative stress” is mentioned all the time in the realm of science and nutrition, but it is not often clear what it means for your health. In fact research indicates that oxidative stress is an underlying cause of cancer, so understanding and preventing it is a smart strategy for your wellness.
Today, I’m going to explain what it is, give you some signs to look out for, and some simple steps you can take to prevent it.
WHAT IS OXIDATIVE STRESS?
Scientists agree that AGING and most deadly DISEASES are the result of cellular deterioration due to destructive molecules called FREE RADICALS. Free Radical Damage that CAUSES AGING is called OXIDATIVE STRESS, the same process that causes RUST. In a sense, AGING is your body’s way of RUSTING from the INSIDE OUT!
The process of oxidation happens as our bodies metabolize (or process) the oxygen that we breathe and our cells produce energy from it. This process also produces free radicals –molecules that interact with the molecules within our cells resulting in damage (or stress) to nearby cells, mitochondria (which I will explain further in a coming article), and DNA.
Free radicals are normal and necessary to some degree. In addition to causing some damage, they also stimulate repair. It is only when so many free radicals are produced, and they overwhelm the repair processes, that it becomes an issue. That is what we call oxidative stress.
Oxidation happens under a number of circumstances including:
- when our cells use glucose to make energy
- when the immune system is fighting off bacteria and creating inflammation
- when our bodies detoxify pollutants, pesticides, and cigarette smoke
In fact, there are millions of processes taking place in our bodies at any one moment that can result in oxidation.
It also increases when we are physically and/or emotionally stressed.
WHY IS IT A PROBLEM?
Because the free radicals resulting from oxidation damage cells, proteins and our DNA (genes) and because oxidation itself is such a common process, the damage it can cause is significant. It is known to cause aging, grey hair, wrinkles, arthritis, decreased eye sight, and even cancer.
So, how can you tell if oxidative stress is occurring in your body? Here are seven signs to look out for:
Memory loss and/or brain fog
Muscle and/or joint pain
Wrinkles and grey hair
Decreased eye sight
Headaches and sensitivity to noise
Susceptibility to infections
HOW TO REDUCE OXIDATIVE STRESS
There are two ways to reduce oxidative stress. Avoiding exposure to unnecessary oxidation and increasing anti-oxidants. Let’s look at each of these in turn.
Decreasing Exposure to Oxidation
As I said at the top of this article, oxidation increases when we are exposed to stress, toxins, and infections. It is also increased by sugar and chemicals, so the more you can minimize your exposure to these things, the better – so choosing organic foods and avoiding toxins in your environment makes a big difference. Reducing stress helps too and can be done with what I refer to as “daily stress remedies”. Here are four steps you can take to reduce unnecessary oxidation in your body.
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Prevent infections
When the immune system is fighting off an infection, it ends up creating oxidation which is why, when you get sick, it drains your body of energy.
Step 3: Allow time for daily stress remedies
It seems so simple, but it really pays off. That’s why you need to build breaks into your day – to give your body a chance to recover. Be sure to honor the breaks in your schedule (or create them) and take them as a chance to enjoy the outdoors, breathe, and re-center. These are some ideas for daily stress remedies:
- Talking with a friend
- Enjoying nature
Step 4: Avoid toxins
Choose organic foods and avoid cigarettes, candles, hair and nail salons, carpet, exhaust fumes and plastic. Check your personal care and cleaning products for toxic ingredients and replace them with non-toxic alternatives.
Here are the final three steps you can take to combat oxidative stress. These are all ways of increasing the anti-oxidants in your system:
Take the OXIDATIVE STRESS Test and see which is your level.
Change your diet / life-style – Eat foods that are high in anti-oxidants
Start using herbs that are high in anti-oxidants