Oxidative Stress: What Is It? And How Do We Tackle It?
Oxidative stress occurs in our bodies and is an imbalance between the molecules known as free radicals and antioxidants.
The oxygen-containing molecules, which are known as free radicals, react very easily with other molecules within our bodies due to them having an uneven number of electrons. This can cause considerable chemical chain reactions, known as oxidation. These reactions may be beneficial to us, but some can also be harmful.
Antioxidants act like the good guys in this situation by donating an electron to the free radicals. And they do this without becoming unstable themselves, whilst helping to stabilize the free radicals and making them less reactive.
What Causes This Imbalance?
The process of oxidation occurs naturally when we metabolize the oxygen we take into our bodies as we breathe. It is good as our cells produce energy from this process.
The free radicals which are produced within this process will then interact with other molecules and this is essential as they fight off the pathogens, bacteria or viruses, which lead to diseases.
However, when there are too many free radicals, an imbalance occurs between them and the antioxidants which can cause damage by overwhelming our healing and repair processes. In effect, they turn against our own systems and can damage our DNA along with the proteins and fatty acids within our bodies. This is what causes oxidative stress.
What Are the Effects of Oxidative Stress?
Over time, oxidative stress can cause numerous illnesses and diseases including:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Hardening of our blood vessels
- Various inflammatory conditions
- Types of cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Unsurprisingly, oxidative stress also contributes significantly to our ageing. Notable signs of ageing are wrinkles on the skin, grey hair, arthritis, reduction in the power of our eyesight and, as said above, cancer.
Symptoms of Oxidative Stress
It isn’t always easy to tell if oxidative stress is occurring in our bodies, but the following are clear indicators and symptoms of which we should be aware:
- Regular fatigue
- Memory loss/brain fog
- Muscle/joint pain
- Sensitivity to noise
- Becoming susceptible to infections
How To Reduce Oxidative Stress
It is worth remembering that this is a natural process that is undesirable. However, it is impossible to avoid exposure to free radicals and oxidative stress. But it is well worth our while to try to minimize the effects they cause on our bodies.
The easiest way to achieve this is by increasing the level of antioxidants in our bodies and decreasing the formation of so many free radicals.
Here are some of the following ways of decreasing free radicals:
Implementing a Good Diet
Eliminating the build-up of free radicals can be achieved by looking at our diets. It will come as little of a surprise to be told that the most powerful antioxidant, glutathione, can be found in fruits and vegetables, especially those which are most colourful. For example:
- Cherries and peaches
Garlic and onions also help our bodies to make more glutathione.
Other good food sources of antioxidants are nuts & seeds and green or black tea.
Avoid sugar and processed foods. This is important for when our bodies have to process sugar, a larger amount of oxidation occurs.
Herbs can also help in the production of antioxidants within our bodies, most notably ginger, turmeric and cinnamon.
Another way to boost levels of glutathione in our bodies is by taking specific supplements. There are supplements that contain glutathione, but it is not easily absorbed into our bodies. It is easier to take supplements that contain: B12, selenium, SAMe, methylfolate, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) and alpha–lipoic acid.
It is not only what we choose to eat and drink – as part of our daily diet – that will help tackle oxidative stress, but also what we do and don’t do.
- Do participate in regular, moderate exercise. Studies have proven that engaging in exercise has been linked with higher natural antioxidant levels in our bodies. It is also associated with longer lifespans, delaying the effects of ageing and decreasing the risk of certain cancers and diseases.
- Don’t smoke. Avoiding exposure to second-hand smoke is pivotal.
- Do wear sunscreen. It prevents ultraviolet light from damaging the skin.
- Don’t overeat. Studies have shown that overeating and constant snacking keep our bodies in a state of constant oxidative stress. It is far better to eat at spaced intervals and keep portions moderate or small.
- Do get a lot of sleep. All of our bodies’ systems are adversely affected by a lack of sleep. Antioxidant and free radical imbalance are notably increased if our sleep is poor.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol. Moderation is key and it’s best to have days when no alcohol is consumed. Binge drinking, along with overeating, raises the level of oxidative stress in our bodies.
- Do be environmentally aware. Free radical production is reduced by following environmentally-friendly initiatives, such as avoiding the use of pesticides when gardening or opting for public transport instead of using your car.
The Role of NAD+ In Combatting Oxidative Stress
A lesser-known secret weapon in the battle against oxidative stress is Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (which is a bit of a mouthful, so NAD+ is far easier to say).
This is a coenzyme found in every living cell in our bodies. Its role is crucial in producing energy maintaining the healthy working of our cells and repairing the damage to our DNA associated with ageing.
The natural ageing process sees a distinct decline in the NAD+ within our cells. It is believed that our bodies contain half the level of NAD+ when we are in our 50s compared to the levels found in our 20s!
All is not lost, however, as research at Harvard Medical School has revealed that DNA can be repaired by boosting our NAD+ levels by taking oral supplements.
The research is ongoing but the following advantages of NAD+ have been shown in recent studies:
- NAD+ supports energy production
- It improves the way in which our bodies extract energy
- It promotes DNA repair which is thought to slow cellular ageing
- NAD+ regulates the immune and inflammatory pathways within our bodies. These pathways are part of our natural defence against diseases and infections.
- NAD+ appears to help with the lengthening of telomeres which are the caps on the end of each DNA strand. They are naturally shortened as we and our cells age.
Word of Advice
To help you take on the fight against free radicals and boost your body’s natural defences, we recommend taking top-quality supplements that contain NAD+. Supplements such as MitoAgeCell NAD+ Anti-Ageing Complex Capsules should be your first choice.
Here at IV Boost, we also add NAD+ to our rejuvenating IV treatments such as our NAD+ Anti-Ageing IV Therapy drip. When combined with healthier lifestyle choices, sound sleep and a good diet, all these healthy habits combine to minimise the impact of oxidative stress on your body.