Life exposes us to many types of stress; oxidative stress is one we cannot see or feel. A certain amount is produced by our normal metabolic processes and can be important for our immune function, yet excessive oxidative stress can be a risk factor for many chronic conditions. Imagine that we have an internal exhaust system and our cells need to process the exhaust fumes, yet can only process a limited amount, so any excess creates problems including molecular, cellular and tissue damage.
Oxidative Stress is essentially an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body’s ability to counteract or detoxify their harmful effects by neutralising with antioxidants.
Internal Free Radicals are produced in normal human activity such as energy production, detoxification of pollutants and immune defence systems. They are unstable molecules that can take an electron from a neighbouring molecule, causing damage in the process. Unchecked free radical production accelerates the cause of human disease and aging.
Reactive Oxygen Species: A free radical is a molecule that contains oxygen and has one or more unpaired electrons, making it highly reactive with other molecules. Oxygen by-products are relatively un-reactive but some can metabolise within the body giving rise to these highly reactive oxidants. Some reactive oxygen species are useful in killing invading pathogens or microbes.
Free radicals can also chemically interact with DNA, protein and lipids, stealing their electrons in order to become stabilised. This destabilises the DNA, protein and lipids molecules which then find and steal an electron from another molecule, triggering a chain of free radical reactions causing cell damage and homeostatic disruption, including suppressing the immune system.
External Free Radical Sources
- Cigarette smoke (1 puff – 10,000 free radicals)
- Ozone (O1 – 1 atom is always a free radical)
- Polluted water; poor nutrition
- Stress; Smog; smoked, grilled and preserved food
- UV rays
Diseases caused by oxidative stress
Evidence is accumulating that oxidative stress is involved in many pathological processes, including:
- Cancers and gene mutations; Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Diabetes mellitus
- Environmental sensitivity
- Fragile X Syndrome
- Heart and blood vessel disorders: atherosclerosis, heart attack, heart failure
- Inflammatory diseases: rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis; Inflammatory bowel disease
- Macular degeneration
- Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Free radicals are counter-balanced by the anti-oxidants present in foods and supplements. Proanthocyanidins found in blueberries and bioflavonoids found in citrus fruits, as well as the antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase protect against free radical damage.
Oxidative Stress Testing
A combination of a blood and a urine sample are taken to assess balance between oxidative damage and antioxidant reserve and evaluate the damage that free radical production has already caused.
“You might just as well stand unprotected in front of an X-ray machine as to not get enough fruits and vegetables.”
Journal of the Medical Association: Prof. Bruce Ames, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI).
We are happy to advise you on your health matters.
Lin Bridgeford DO KFRP MSCC ICAK (UK) MSc
Registered Osteopath & Kinesiologist & Yoga Teacher
Aether Bios Clinic