Health & Fitness

An Overview of Oxidative Stress

The effects of oxidative stress are caused by an imbalance of toxins within the human body.This imbalance is caused by the over-production of reactive oxygen (free radicals) and the cell’s inability to counterbalance and detoxify these substances.The term ‘free radicals’ is well-known term throughout society and within today’s life science research, but the common explanation is relatively unknown.

An Overview of Oxidative Stress
An Overview of Oxidative Stress

A simple explanation of oxidative stress

Oxidative stress is the damage caused to cells through the process of oxidation within the body. Free radicals are a large cause of this stress, and although they are created during the oxidation process, current changes in our lifestyle and food consumption have increased the occurrence of these molecules. Free radicals are molecules that are missing one electron and seek out another molecule to combine with in order to satisfy this electron deficiency. During their quest, they often cause toxic results within the body and disturb the natural processes within the body. They can interfere with the natural oxidation process and cause damage to biomolecules such as DNA, RNA, proteins, and lipids. Although reactive oxygen is a key component in cell signaling, oxidative stress can cause disruptions in this process and interfere with the natural signaling process. The more free radicals one’s body contains, the more damage caused to cells by their pursuit of a missing electron.

Oxidative stress and disease

The recent shortening of lifespans in America is thought to be attributed in part to oxidative stress. Free radicals and oxidative stress can encourage and exacerbate diseases such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. Some of the more common causes of oxidative stress within our bodies today include such factors as pollution, smoking, stress, medicine, radiation, and overexposure to sunlight.

Antioxidants and oxidative stress

Antioxidants play a large part in the reduction of free radicals and oxidative stress. These substances give up that much-coveted electron to the wildly wandering free radicals. Once a free radical reclaims its lost electron, the body can safely remove it from the system. Our natural cell defenses produce some antioxidants such as superoxide dismutase, which out-competes the damaging reactions of superoxide (a free radical) and protects the cell from the toxic effects of superoxide. Although our bodies create antioxidants on their own, our increasingly unnatural lifestyle is introducing many more free radicals than our body can combat efficiently. A healthy lifestyle can help reduce an individual’s oxidative stress and return the body to a state of balance.