Oxidative Stress – What Is It? and How Does It Impact Our Health?

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Oxidative Stress – What Is It? and How Does It Impact Our Health?

Both Oxidative Stress (OS) & Free Radicals (FR) are terms many have heard but no little about. A great place to start is a base understanding of human cells. Adults are made up of 30 trillion cells, with every cell renewing on a 3-month cycle. Humans are cellular structures, which is biologically accurate, but our cells are also molecules! Cells are made of proteins, a type of molecule, & water, which is another molecule, together with a variety of molecules. At our cells centre are DNA & RNA which are extremely complex molecules. Our bodies cells are made up of molecules!

Oxygen carrying molecules have electrons in pairs. FR are oxygen molecules that have unpaired electrons making them chemically reactive. FR can be created from both natural & unnatural causes. One natural cause is our body producing them during metabolic processes e.g., Catabolism, which creates energy by breaking down large molecules. Unnatural causes create FR that can create significant impacts to our health e.g., UV Light, Heat, Chemical Carcinogens, Chemotherapeutic Agents. Additionally, Ionising Radiation (IR) from environmental, medical, & man-made sources also creates biological effects by creating a variety of potent FR which can lead to cell death or a chain reaction that damages DNA. Multiple IR exposures can create delayed effects creating adaptive responses from small doses, carcinogenesis, fibrosis, inflammation & genomic instability.

OS isn’t a natural process & is created by an imbalance between FR activity & antioxidant activity. Antioxidants play a vital role in neutralising FR by donating an electron to the unpaired oxygen molecule. This has a neutralising effect as the now paired electron in the oxygen molecule is chemically stable protecting the body from OS. A major issue with FR is their unpaired electron status allows them to easily interreact with other molecules creating large chain chemical reactions known as Oxidation. This results in cellular damage to, Proteins, DNA, Cell Membranes & Lipids with the resultant stress causing the cell to lose its functionality & die. One result of this unnatural cell death is accelerated onset of degenerative tissue injury processes regards aging. Oxidation is linked to neurodegenerative & other major diseases, & chronic inflammation. Many studies conclude that high levels of FR cause or accelerate nerve cell injury leading to diseases. Studies link OS to Cancer, Alzheimer’s, Diabetes, Parkinson’s, Arthritis, CFS, Asthma as well as Cardiovascular conditions such as High Blood Pressure & Strokes.

Based on the above, it’s ironical that we naturally have a small level of OS within our body, innately tied to our ageing process. However, studies and literature confirm OS levels in the General Population are typically high. The most common factor being lifestyle choices e.g., alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, diet, processed foods, GMO’s, sugar intake, obesity, poor sleep patterns, sedentary etc., Also, long-term stressors e.g., emotions, high stress environments! This is a very important aspect of Health & Wellbeing that requires awareness & understanding due to the impact it can have on your life! Researching further is a wise investment of time! Counteracting OS can be achieved by diet, lifestyle choices, sleep hygiene practices, maintaining healthy body mass, regular exercise & anything that creates a more relaxed life environment. All aspects are holistically important but a well-balanced diet rich in high density nutritional foods is a great starting point. Including Antioxidant Rich Foods is a smart option for fast OS reduction.

Examples of foods with High Levels of Antioxidants that also contain other beneficial components for health & wellbeing include:

  • Strawberries.          High in Vitamins & Minerals
  • Raspberries.           High in anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Blueberries.            Low in calories & packed with nutrients
  • Artichokes.              Very high antioxidant level but preparation can affect attaining full benefit
  • Dark Chocolate      Cocoa levels make it a rich source. A real superfood that’s worth researching
  • Grapes                   High in Vitamin C & Selenium   https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/selenium-benefits
  • Goji Berries.           Contain a unique antioxidant LBP   https://www.readcube.com/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01034
  • Red Cabbage.        Promotes heart health, anticancer, reduces inflammation + numerous health benefits

Our Guest Blogger is Paul Barry from Brisbane, Australia who works as a Consultant in High-Performance Sport. He enjoys working with any level of athlete up to International Level on National Teams. Paul specialises in utilising his multiple qualifications, knowledge and experience to create holistic, bespoke, periodised programs that enhance performance to gain optimal levels on a consistent basis!


Email: pbelitecoach@gmail.com

LinkedIn: https://au.linkedin.com/pub/paulbarryhighperformancesports/

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