Effects, Factors, and Strategies for Combating Oxidative Stress

heart health

There are several discussions in the medical, beauty, and cosmetic industries surrounding free radicals, antioxidants, and oxidative stress, and the first thought that comes to mind is likely anti-aging. However, while we all want to find the elusive fountain of youth, oxidative stress leads to more than merely wrinkles and grey hair.

Oxidative stress is a disparity between the extent of free radicals your body is producing and your body’s ability to counteract their damaging effects with antioxidant neutralization. At its core, this imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants is what causes oxidative stress. 

What are the effects of oxidative stress?

Let’s start by stating that oxidation is a normal bodily process. However, oxidative stress is when there is a disproportion between the activity of free radicals and antioxidants. This is what can be cause for concern if experienced long-term.

An overbalance of free radicals can cause damage at the molecular and cellular level with proteins, fatty tissue, and even DNA. Some of the conditions and diseases that have been attributed to oxidative stress include:

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Asthma
  • Various cancers
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Male infertility
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Inflammatory disorders

What factors cause oxidative stress?

Short-term and mild oxidative stress can actually be beneficial to your overall health. Exercise would be one example of mild oxidative stress that aids in warding off infection and disease. However, it is the long-term oxidative stress that can cause significant and irreparable damage to your body. Factors that can cause long-term oxidative stress include:

  • Radiation exposure
  • Chemical exposure
  • Pesticide exposure
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Environmental pollution
  • Diet high in sugar, fat, or processed products
  • Obesity
elderberry juice

What are the strategies to combat oxidative stress?

Combating oxidative stress involves a commitment to long-term lifestyle changes. Some of these include:

Each antioxidant works differently, so you can’t stock up on one in lieu of another. This is why a balanced and varied diet is ideal. Try to work the following antioxidants into your diet:

  • Vitamin A – sweet potatoes, egg yolk, carrots, milk, liver
  • Vitamin C – citrus fruits, kiwifruit, mangoes, spinach, broccoli, peppers, berries
  • Vitamin E – avocados, seeds, nuts, whole grains
  • Allium Sulphur – onions, leeks, garlic
  • Beta-Carotene – pumpkin, carrots, mangoes, peas, spinach
  • Flavonoids – green tea, citrus, apples
  • Lycopene – tomatoes, watermelon, grapefruit
  • Lutein – green leafy veggies, papaya, oranges
  • Selenium – seafood, lean meat, legumes, whole grain
  • Zeaxanthin – cantaloupe, orange, and yellow peppers, salmon
  • Zinc – lean red meat, seafood, milk, nuts

An increasing number of healthcare professionals and medical research are attributing toxicity in the body to oxidative stress. Unfortunately, chemical, physical and microbial agents can lead to oxidative stress at the basic cellular level and cause irreparable disease and damage. However, the delicate balance between free radicals and antioxidants can be tipped in your favor if a concerted effort is given to making lifestyle, environmental, and diet changes.