May 13, 2021

What is Oxidative Stress and Why Should you Care?


What is Oxidative Stress and Why Should you Care?

The human body seeks balance. Over time, imbalance can lead to disease. Oxidative stress is a particular type of imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. Free radicals react easily with other molecules; hence the name. These reactions are called oxidation (like when a cut apple is exposed to the air and turns brown). They can be beneficial or harmful. Antioxidants are the “antidote” to free radicals – in that they stabilize them. Oxidation itself is not bad. Oxidative stress is harmful to tissues of the human body. Signs you may be suffering from oxidative stress are fatigue, “creaky joints,” sore muscles and brain fog.


“Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in your body. Oxidative stress, on the other hand, occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. When functioning properly, free radicals can help fight off pathogens. Pathogens lead to infections.

When there are more free radicals present than can be kept in balance by antioxidants, the free radicals can start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. Proteins, lipids, and DNA make up a large part of your body, so that damage can lead to a vast number of diseases (like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.) over time.” Oxidative stress also contributes to aging.” ( If you wake up in the morning with a sore shoulder or hip this could be oxidative stress.

Free Radical Exposure

Free radicals are naturally produced by the body during exercise or when experiencing inflammation (example, a bug bite).This is the body’s normal, healthy reaction to those states where the body needs repair. Exposure to free radicals also comes from things in our environment like ozone, pesticides, cleaners, cigarette smoke, radiation and pollution. A diet high in sugar, fat, and alcohol may also contribute to free radical production.

How to avoid it?

One of the best ways to combat oxidative stress is eating at least 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables as these plant foods naturally contain antioxidants which are readily absorbed by the body (as opposed to supplements or other non-food sources of antioxidants). You should strive to “eat the rainbow.” This means a variety of colors when it comes to fruit and vegetables. Some suggestions are low-sugar fruits like berries and citrus; asparagus, avocados, spinach, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes. Add interest to your meal as well as antioxidants by flavoring with onions, garlic, turmeric or cinnamon, Fish and nuts also contain antioxidants. Be sure that the fish is low-mercury and wild caught. 

Here are ways to manage oxidative stress with lifestyle:(Added bonus: these will enhance your overall quality of life.)

  • Eat a high-quality, whole foods-based diet. Limit processed foods and added sugar.
  • Don’t smoke and limit alcohol.
  • Engage in a regular, moderate exercise.
  • Get adequate, quality sleep.
  • Eat in moderation with ample time between meals to fully digest.
  • Reduce and manage stress. Stress is inevitable. Unmanaged, unrelenting stress is harmful. 
  • Use caution with chemicals. Eat organic foods to minimize pesticide exposure and use caution with household cleaners and gardening applications as they often contain chemicals. Filter your drinking water with a quality filter like PUR. Municipal drinking water contains all sorts of things you probably do not want to ingest (and may not know about).

Protecting yourself from oxidative stress is as simple as providing your body with what it needs and avoiding what it doesn’t need. Choosing ways to reduce stress physically and mentally will help you live a longer, healthier life.

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