The term oxidative stress is commonly linked to inflammation, free radicals and chronic disease. Oxidation is the process by which our bodies metabolize the oxygen that we breathe and by which cells produce energy, resulting in a loss of electrons during a reaction by a molecule, atom or ion. Oxidation refers to gain of oxygen.
This process generates free radicals which can lead to damage to nearby cells, mitochondria, and DNA. Free radicals are part of a normal process and necessary to some degree as they also stimulate repair. When the amount of free radicals produced exceeds the repair processes it leads to oxidative stress. If we have an adequate amount of antioxidants, this damage can be prevented or minimized. Physical and emotional stress increases oxidation.
There are multiple processes in the body that can result in oxidation, including production of energy by the cells when using glucose, fighting bacteria by the immune system, and detoxification of harmful chemicals, such as pesticides.
There are a few signs that can indicate oxidative stress in the body or excessive inflammation, such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestive disorders (Acid reflux, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, etc.)
- Memory loss and lack of concentration
- Joint pain and inflammation
- Premature aging
- Headaches and sensitivity to noise
- Vulnerability to infections
Oxidative stress is seen as the underlying cause of many chronic diseases and illnesses, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, insomnia, heart disease, and cancer. The key in avoiding these risks is to decrease exposure to oxidation and to increase the amount of antioxidants in the system.