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Why Oxidative Stress Is Harmful And How To Prevent It

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 22, 2021
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We hear about stress every day. But when you add “oxidative” to it, it sounds unheard and complicated. Even though oxidative stress might be something you don’t know much about, you should know it happens in our bodies every single day.

Read on to find out why it can be harmful to your body and how to avoid it.

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So what is oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body and can lead to cell and tissue damage. Oxidative stress occurs naturally and plays a role in the aging process. The body's cells produce free radicals during normal metabolic processes.

However, cells also produce antioxidants that neutralize these free radicals. In general, the body is able to maintain a balance between antioxidants and free radicals. Several factors contribute to oxidative stress and excess free radical production.

These factors can be your diet, lifestyle, certain conditions, environmental factors such as pollution and radiation. The body's natural immune response can also trigger oxidative stress temporarily.

This type of oxidative stress causes mild inflammation that goes away after the immune system fights off an infection or repairs an injury.

Why oxidative stress can be harmful?

Uncontrolled oxidative stress can accelerate the aging process and may contribute to the development of a number of conditions.

A large body of scientific evidence suggests that long-term oxidative stress may play a role in the development of a range of conditions, including:

  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular conditions such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and stroke
  • Inflammatory disorders
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Asthma
  • Male infertility

Who is prone to oxidative stress?

Factors that increase the risk of long-term oxidative stress are:

  • Diets high in fat, sugar, and processed foods
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Certain medications
  • Pollution
  • Exposure to pesticides or industrial chemicals

Ways to reduce oxidative stress

Intermittent Fasting may improve your resistance to oxidative stress, that, as said before, eventually leads to the destruction of important molecules in the body through reactions with free radicals and unstable molecules.

A number of observations prove that calorie restriction effectively reduces oxidative stress. Intermittent fasting is also extremely helpful for weight loss, improving brain health and metabolism.

It’s also good for your skin and can slow down the aging process. Eating a balanced, healthful diet rich in fruits and vegetables. That might sound like a no brainer, but the importance of the right nutrition to our bodies can never be overmentioned. Just try adding extra veggies when you cook your signature stew, make some delicious salad to eat with your morning eggs and choose to have an apple as a snack instead of a chocolate bar.

Exercising regularly. Well, this one is also quite obvious. But knowing that exercising is not only good for your weight loss but also for disease prevention really gives you that extra motivation.

Quitting smoking. We all know that smokers aren’t the healthiest people around, but now we know another reason for them to quit. Reducing stress. Breathe in, breathe out. Feeling better already?

Stress is linked to many health conditions, including long-term oxidative stress, so just try to stay relaxed. Try doing some yoga or breathing exercises and you’ll see how many emotional and physical health benefits it can bring.

Conclusion

Life’s all about keeping the balance. You don’t have to become a healthy living and fitness addict to actually be healthy. But you should also educate yourself on how bad habits affect your body.

It doesn’t take too much to help yourself. Just try the tips mentioned above! Also, feel free to read more about intermittent fasting to find out the numerous health benefits it has.

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Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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