Oxidation happens, so why stress about it? Understand the effects of free radicals and oxidation so you don’t have to stress over it.
When reading through recipes, occasionally you will come across the phrase “Reduces Oxidative Stress” listed next to one or more of the ingredients. But what is oxidative stress, and why would we want to reduce it?
What is Oxidation?
Oxidation in the human body is a normal, healthy process that happens when our bodies metabolize the oxygen we breathe. It also happens when our cells make energy from food, when our immune system is doing its job, and when our bodies detoxify from things like pesticides, cigarette smoke, and other pollutants. Oxidation occurs frequently in the human body for a variety of reasons.
Free radicals can be generated from this process. Though their formation can be useful to the body, when too many are produced, they overwhelm the system. This is known as Oxidative Stress.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are molecules that have one or more unpaired electrons. Because this makes them unstable, they try to steal an electron from another molecule to gain stability. The molecule they steal from becomes a free radical, and the chain reaction continues. This can disrupt and damage a living cell, causing it to function poorly or die. Remember, our cells contain our DNA: important stuff we don’t want to disrupt or damage.
The excessive formation of free radicals, or oxidative stress, may contribute to various conditions: Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, acceleration of the aging process–including the deterioration of eyesight and forming of wrinkles, heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cancer.
Signs of Oxidative Stress:
- Muscle or joint pain or soreness.
- Anything that tells you your body is not functioning optimally.
- How Can We Reduce Oxidative Stress?
- Eat Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are a powerful way to neutralize free radicals, which can prevent or reduce the damage they would cause. You see, antioxidants will ‘donate’ their extra electron to a free radical, giving it stability and stopping the chain reaction that results in cell damage. Why don’t antioxidants become free radicals like everyone else? Because they are stable with or without the electron!
Choosing pesticide free, unprocessed foods, as well as limiting sugar intake. (Think pesticides = excess oxidation, processed food = excess oxidation, excess sugar = excess oxidization)
Drink Clean Water
I recommend a good water purifier, because there are various ways that both tap water and bottled water can do your body harm.
Practice Sun Safety
Limit time in the sun during peak UV hours, use an all-natural or organic sunscreen, and wear sun protection: a hat, sunglasses, and long sleeves.
Use Natural Ingredients on Skin and Hair
Many personal care products contain toxins that cause our bodies undue stress. Look for an all-natural or organic alternative.
Choose Household products carefully
Cleaning supplies, including air fresheners, can contain chemicals that cause your eyes, skin, lungs, and body harm. Try to replace them with all natural solutions.
Breathe Clean Air
Air pollution is a big issue to tackle, but we can all do our part: drive energy efficient cars, carpool, recycle, plant trees, buy energy efficient appliances, invest in carbon offsetting, and conserve household energy by turning off lights and appliances when you leave.
The chemicals released when you stress cause oxidative stress, among other things. Find ways to calm your mind, body and soul.