We are at war. There is an enemy fast approaching who wants to conquer the place you call home. They have no mercy and won’t give up until they are thoroughly defeated. To beat them, we must be strong, diligent, and relentless. This enemy is very crafty, and likes to attack on multiple fronts. It will be difficult, but this enemy CAN be defeated. This fight is ongoing and will require the help of every man, woman and child. We are all drafted and must be ready to do battle.
Who is this enemy? It’s oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is defined as an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects. This is accomplished by neutralizing the free radicals with antioxidants. While some may feel this analogy is extreme, oxidative stress is extremely hazardous to our health and has been linked to the following ailments:1
- Premature aging
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Cardiovascular disease
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
These condition don’t happen overnight. It takes time for these free radicals to accumulate and cause this damage. As a result, it’s important to identify their potential causes and keep their growth and expansion to a minimum.
Causes and Signs of Oxidative Stress
Free radicals occur naturally in the body, but there are many external sources that can cause them as well. If the body becomes overwhelmed and can’t keep them in check, they will attack the healthy cells and damage the proteins, lipids and DNA. This action can cause the issues listed here and many others.
The following external sources can stimulate the production of free radicals and increase the risk of having oxidative stress:
- Too much exercise
- Certain medications
- Excessive exposure to UV rays
- Air pollution
- Eating too much junk and processed foods
While ailments like cancer and cardiovascular disease can take years to develop, a person may experience a few subtle symptoms of oxidative stress early on:
- Brain fog
- Muscle or joint pain
- Grey hair
- Increased frequency of colds
The average person may be inclined to take an over the counter medicine to alleviate these symptoms, but it’s important to look deeper. Try to determine why you feel fatigued. Yes, a nap may help you feel better, but that’s a short term solution. A pain reliever may help with the joint pain, but if the reason why the pain occurs in the first place isn’t discovered, the pain is sure to return.
By discovering the source of the ailment and treating it directly, a person could decrease the production of free radicals today and minimize serious health issues tomorrow.
Decreasing Free Radical Production
It may be unrealistic to believe we can avoid all the external sources of free radicals, but we can attempt to minimize their effects with healthy lifestyle choices. The following actions can help decrease the risk of becoming ill:
Relieve stress. Stress that a person feels on a daily basis can cause illness over the long term if it is not dealt with effectively. Meditation, exercise, having a hobby, and laughing are all great ways to relieve this type of stress (which is also called chronic stress.)
Decrease junk food intake. Sugar and processed foods can feed free radicals in the body. Healthier foods such as fruits, veggies, liver, nuts, seeds, fish oil and green tea are high in antioxidants and help fight free radicals. Ginseng, thyme, sage, turmeric, and gingko biloba are herbs that keep free radicals at bay as well.
Avoid environmental toxins. Toxins are everywhere, but making an effort to avoid known toxins is critical: cigarettes, car and truck exhaust fumes, plastics and pesticides in the food are all toxins to be avoided.
Every day, we are attacked by free radicals that can cause oxidative stress. Make an effort to eliminate the external sources of oxidative stress today. Your body will thank you.
1Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/