Oxidative stress is the term that aptly describes the stress caused in the body by oxidation. Like oxygen rusts steel or air browns sliced fruit, free-radical damage occurs in your body through the natural process of metabolizing the oxygen you breathe.
Free radicals are a by-product, like car exhaust, that occurs as your body creates energy from oxygen. These free radicals stress (or create damage to) your cells, mitochondria and DNA. While free radicals are a normal part of the energy-generating process, when too many of them overwhelm your body’s ability to use them, oxidative stress occurs.
Oxidative stress is an underlying (preventable) cause of many illnesses and diseases. It damages tissues, cells and causes chronic disease if not held in check. The good news is… because free radical damage is largely self-inflicted, a few lifestyle changes can do wonders to protect your body, reverse the damage and prevent future oxidative stress and free-radicals from diminishing your health and wellness.
Signs and diseases associated with oxidative stress
Because oxidative stress happens on the cellular level, it is difficult for people to wrap their heads around. It’s not like a cold or toothache or gout, but actually it does have a set of outer signs. Here are 12 signs that, if you experience on a chronic basis, indicate you may be suffering from oxidative stress…
- Susceptibility to infections
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Muscle Pain or Fibromyalgia
- Joint pain or inflammation
- Premature aging
- Memory loss
- Poor vision
What causes free radicals?
These disease-causing free radicals are caused when:
- The immune system is compromised.
- There is systemic inflammation.
- Too much sugar (glucose) is the main catalyst for energy.
- The liver and kidneys are over-taxed detoxifying toxic chemicals, pesticides, environmental pollutants, cigarette smoke and preservatives in food.
- You are under too much stress.
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How you can lessen the damage
Lifestyle changes are the strongest and fastest way to stop further damage, reverse the existing damage and prevent as much oxidative stress moving forward. Here are some powerful tips:
- Consume less food overall, especially empty calories, sugar, refined carbs and charcoal heated foods (charbroiling creates a carcinogenic byproduct on the food). Some call it the frugal way to fight aging.
- Eat organic as much as possible to avoid consuming pesticides. Beware that even “farm fresh” foods are often sprayed with chemicals, so look for the “USDA Organic” label.
- Stress less by reducing work and social loads and engaging in activities that help you relax and feel invigorated like yoga or walking or gardening.
- Reduce your exposure to allergens and pollutants in the air by using an air purifier in the car and home, as possible.
- Reduce your exposure to “electro-smog” from excessive use of cell phones, iPads, laptops and wi-fi (which is almost impossible to avoid!).
- Get plenty of deep REM sleep.
- Take herbs and supplements for an antioxidant boost, including Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Ginkgo, Ginger, Grape Seed Extract, Green Tea, Milk Thistle, N-acetylcysteine, Rosemary and Turmeric. Many of these foods and nutrients help boost your body’s natural production of glutathione — the mother of all antioxidants.