For decades, oxidative stress has been the subject of extensive scientific study. Oxidative stress can have serious short-term and long-term effects on the body, contributing to the aging process and to the development of diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Read on to learn what oxidative stress is, how it can impact the body, and what treatment options are available.
What Is Oxidative Stress?
Oxidative stress happens when there’s an imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in the body. Free radicals are molecules that contain oxygen and have an uneven number of electrons, which permits them to easily react with other molecules. These tiny molecules cause chemical reactions in the body called oxidation. While there are some beneficial oxidative reactions, this article looks at the harmful reactions.
Free radicals can come from environmental sources, such as pollution and heavy metals, as well as from sources within the human body, including the mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum. They are even produced during normal activities, like exercise.
Through normal metabolic processes, cells create free radicals as well as antioxidants that help balance out the radicals. Antioxidants are molecules that have an extra electron and can donate it to free radicals, causing them to become less reactive. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E.
When the body cannot maintain a balance between free radicals and antioxidants, it leads to oxidative stress. However, oxidative stress is not always negative. Exercise, for example, creates more free radicals, causing oxidative stress in the muscles, but these free radicals contribute to the production of antioxidants and regulate tissue growth. That’s why it’s so vital to understand balance within the body as a whole.
Several factors can contribute to oxidative stress and the production of excess free radicals that the body cannot neutralize. These include:
- Environmental pollution and radiation
- Certain medical conditions
The natural immune responses of the body can also trigger an excess of free radicals.
Effects of Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress can also result in free radicals damaging fatty tissue, proteins, and even DNA. This damage may result in several medical conditions.
Chronic inflammation is a common result of prolonged oxidative stress. Infections and injuries can influence the immune system to create free radicals, which damage healthy cells and cause inflammation. Oxidative stress creates more free radicals in response to the inflammation, leading to even more cell damage and more free radicals, ultimately causing a cycle of imbalance.
Chronic inflammation brought on by oxidative stress can lead to:
Oxidative stress can also contribute to the development of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Because the brain requires a high oxygen level, it is prone to oxidative stress. Brain cells perform metabolic processes that create free radicals, which can help with neuroplasticity, brain cell growth, and cognitive functions. Under oxidative stress, however, the free radicals can attack cell structures and even cause cell death.
Oxidative stress in the brain also alters essential proteins like amyloid-beta peptides. A 2018 study shows how free radicals can warp these peptides so that they accumulate amyloid plaque in the brain. Amyloid plaque buildup is one of the key markers in someone with Alzheimer’s disease.
Other conditions that oxidative stress may play a role in include:
- Male infertility
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
Oxidative stress can also impact the aging process.
Preventing and Managing Oxidative Stress
Although it is impossible to completely stop the production of free radicals, there are ways of preventing an excess of them.
One way to do this is by making sure you eat foods that have anti-oxidative effects on the body. Vegetables and fruits provide the building blocks for your body to create antioxidants.
Try adding these foods that have anti-oxidative effects to your diet:
- Cherries and berries
- Citrus fruit
- Leafy greens
- Green tea
- Vitamins A, C, and E supplements
You can also prevent oxidative stress by not smoking and limiting the consumption of processed foods high in fat and sugar. Exercise is also vital, as is decreasing your alcohol consumption.
Maintaining a healthy body weight also contributes to the prevention of excess free radical production. A 2015 review states that excess fat cells create inflammatory substances that trigger the production of free radicals.
An Effective Solution: Cold Therapy
Another way to prevent oxidative stress is cold therapy. Cold therapy offers systemic relief from inflammation, making it possible to slow the cycle that creates free radicals. The anti-oxidative effects of cold therapy also modulate the antioxidant production levels in injured muscles.
Cold water immersion therapy can also help you to attain better rest, helping to trigger the vagus nerve within the parasympathetic nervous system. Getting enough rest has anti-oxidative effects. Brain function, hormone production, and the balance of antioxidants and free radicals all depend on healthy sleep patterns.
Find the Free Radicals and Antioxidants Balance
Achieving a balance between the free radicals and the antioxidants your body naturally produces can help prevent a host of conditions, from diabetes to neurodegenerative illnesses. By adding foods rich in antioxidants and employing therapeutic techniques like cold water therapy, you can help your body neutralize free radicals.
At Ice Barrel, we offer the best products to help you add cold therapy to your life. Ourleadingcold therapy training tool, the Ice Barrel, allows you to quickly and effectively reap the benefits that this therapy offers for treating and preventing oxidative stress.
Purchase our Ice Barrel today!
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