Hello all! Today, I want to discuss the topic of oxidative stress. This is something that affects everyone, and to be honest, it impacts all people differently – some more than others. I know we’re all familiar with the term “aging,” and the term “oxidative stress, but these two subjects go pretty deep. So let’s dig into these matters a little more. Who knows, you may learn a thing or two that can keep you looking young for a long time, and I know that’s something that we’re all trying to do!
Table of Contents
So what is oxidative stress?
We’ve all heard of it and tend to throw the term around from time to time, but it still seems as though we have yet to fully grasp what it truly stands for. To simplify it all as best as I can, we need to look at the word “oxidation” first.
Oxidation is like an “AKA” for a chemical process that takes place within the body, and EVERYBODY has it going on to some degree. And even though oxygen is vital for life as we know it, it is equally destructive in it’s own mischievous ways. A perfect example of this is how certain foods (produce), or metal (iron) can get old quickly and/or rust. I often like to use the banana example when explaining this process to clients. Just a simple and easy way of explaining everything without the science lingo.
The banana example
So let’s see, once picked from a banana tree, that banana starts to die. Yea I know, it sounds kind of sad when I put it that way, but it’s true. The reason I give this visualization is because this act of this “ fruit picking” closely resembles us (people) being pushed out from that cozy little reproductive nook within our mommy’s tummy. Although our timelines are much longer than a piece of fruit, the resemblances are quite similar. From the minute we’re plucked, the dying process begins. I know, it’s sounds quite depressing, but hey, that’s life.
As with fruit, the same concept also applies to metallic objects. I know this is also something you have seen before. That old piece of iron in your backyard that’s covered with rust, yup, that’s a direct result of oxygen. Now take that exact same scenario and apply it to the human body – inside and out. That rust you see on that piece of metal is like the wrinkles on your grandmother’s skin. Different situations, but similar in nature.
Are you rusting?
Well…are you? Sure you are! We all are! But you know what, some are rusting (aging) much slower than others, and these people are winning the race. The race I speak of is called “life.” And as we all know, some people have actually gotten pretty good at slowing this progression toward the ultimate end. So what are these people doing? Well, besides having a great set of genetics, those who age well are also very aware people (in most cases). Even still, some are just predisposed to age gracefully. Take for example the 105-year-old man who smoked for his entire life, and had little to no health complications because of smoking. Yea I know, pretty crazy.
Yet, even with all of the genetic potential in the world, everybody will be impacted by this oxidative effect to some degree. We’ve clarified that we need oxygen to stay alive, right? Well, even though it’s vital for our survival, it can also be quite destructive as well. Oxygen is here to assist us with the fuel needed to stay alive. It’s a component that every living cell depends on. And this goes hand-and-hand with the foods we eat. It all plays in to one another, and is part of a giant metabolic system that keeps the body going. Quite amazing to say the least.
When this metabolic chain occurs, byproducts are released into the body, and these little disease-enablers are known as “free radicals,” and they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with! These minute mayhem-makers are a huge problem, but luckily there are ways to combat them proficiently. So let’s check out some of that right now!
The free radical attack!
Basically, a free radical is an unstable atom and/or molecule that is really good at stealing! They’re microscopic crooks that steal electrons from other molecules that they come across. They’re like little stickup artists that have gotten REALLY good at what they do – all in order to maintain, and achieve some type of strength and stability. These little guys are weak, and in order for them to get strong again, they steal electrons from others! Totally not cool if you ask me!
By the time this little crime is finished, the cell that was robbed, in most cases, can be completely wrecked! This is called cellular damage and it’s responsible for a bunch of ailments today. Pretty much ALL diseases are linked in with oxidative stress somehow, and although these degrees vary, they’re worthy of discussion in my opinion. People are highly stressed these days, and this plays out in a number of different ways – disease development being a huge one.
How to win this fight and avoid disease!
So, by this point, you understand that cellular damage (oxidative stress) is causing a variety of problems today, and this is triggered by a bunch of different things, right? Ok good. But how can one avoid these issues entirely? Well, although nothing is certain, and nobody is completely impervious to attack, the chances to be and remain healthy can be increased. And this is really good news!
One thing to note here is that the ways by which most live today, are heavily burdened with toxic factors. All you really have to do is look at contemporary society to get a full grasp of what I’m talking about here. Check it out below:
- Toxins in the air (coal burning, smog, etc.)
- Perfumes on the skin
- Toxic body products
- Horrible food selections
- Bad water loaded with chemicals (chlorine and fluoride)
You see, these are all influences that are adding to our current and growing disease epidemic. They’re relatively new when looking into our long and very extensive human past as well. These elements listed above are directly tied-in with oxidative stress, and it’s getting worse unfortunately…this is why I bring it up. It’s getting to be pretty bad these days.
One thing I feel that more people should be aware of is how within the giant book of human history (a book that is estimated to date back about 2.5 million years), we modern humans have been living toxic lives for a small portion of it all. Within the past 100 or so years, we have not only managed to ruin our bodies, but our beautiful planet as well. This has all happened within a very short amount of time.
Now I bring this up for a specific reason – it’s because disease rates are sky high today, and issues (like oxidative stress) are not slowing down. Modern humans (mostly Westerners) are facing a disease problem that is rarely discussed in detail, something that really needs to change. But even with all of the fluff out there, there are some weapons you can acquire in order for you to win this war. I’m talking about obtaining the necessary tools to prevail and lead a healthy life! Now doesn’t that sound nice?
Armed to the teeth – waging war on oxidative stress
So how is it done, how do you win this fight? It’s something that I’m asked quite a lot and I have two answers: lifestyle awareness and ANTIOXIDANTS! Let’s talk about the latter.
Antioxidants are pretty awesome! These little micronutrients are required for health on many levels. And as stated earlier, although life-yielding, the oxidation process can be quite destructive as well. This is what we’re looking to eradicate here.
Antioxidants are able to help us (humans) give back what was stolen – the electrons! Remember, free radicals steal electrons from other atoms; thus, rendering them unstable – this is not cool. Antioxidants supply needed electrons to the damaged cells that were jacked, and this IS cool!
You see, the term “antioxidant” stands for “ANTI” “OXIDATION.” This means they’re all about damage control. And the goal here is to limit cellular damage as much as possible – this is what they’re great at doing!
So where do you start? What foods can you eat to get these beautiful disease preventers into your body? Let’s start with some foods that are high in these great health promoters!
You’ve been told this all of your life for a reason!
“Eat your veggies.” Something you’ve been told your entire life, am I right? Well, it looks as if mom was correct on this one. Vegetables (dark, and brightly colored) have loads of antioxidants in them. And although it’s best to get them in raw form, you can also find some pretty good supplements out there as well. I know of some really good companies, so contact me if you want some information regarding that.
Vitamins, like vitamin C, and E, are also well-known sources as well. As discussed a few days ago on a different post, the act of juicing at home (making your own vitamin rich juices) is also a great way to get these life-yielding nutrients into your body. It’s all about arming yourself for battle, the more you put in, the better off you’ll be. And juicing is great at doing this…
Now, to clarify, I’m not telling you to overdue anything here either. I strongly believe that anything done in excess can be bad. What you need to realize is that each person has his or her own individual balance, one that must be achieved if true and optimal health is to come out of it. This applies to antioxidants as well. Be proactive in loading up your body, but don’t go crazy!
What I do like is that there are so many studies linking antioxidants to health, so the proof is valid in my opinion (I’ll list some good ones at the end of this post, so make sure to check them out). All you need to figure out is how to get more into your body so that you can really wage this war correctly. But that’s not all. On top of this great area of focus are other necessary assessments that need to be made, and they are as follows:
- Limit oxidative stress by cleaning up your life. In other words, purify your surrounding environment. Body products, foods, air quality, it all plays into the big picture here.
- Get more whole foods into your body. Raw, uncooked, organic vegetables and fruits are your key here. These foods are SO powerful in preventing disease, so they’re definitely an area to address.
- Run a metabolic assessment on your body. Some doctors can do this, but most have never heard of it. By looking into areas like your “Urinary Bile Acid Sulfates” you can gain clarity on your own oxidative stress levels. Yes, this is a test that can tell you how efficiently you’re aging. Pretty cool to say the least. If you want more information on this, get in touch with me so I can break it all down for you in further detail. This lab is a big eye-opener for a lot of people.
- Start approaching your life decisions with a weighted approach. In other words, before doing something (eating, smoking, drinking), ask yourself “is this hurting me, or helping me.” Now I don’t want you to get obsessed with this routine either, as stressing over such decisions can be damaging in itself, but just be more aware. If you can cut down on more of your bad decisions, then your chances of avoiding disease, or even ridding your life of one you may already have, can increase dramatically. It’s all about living as pure as you can.
As with most topics I discuss, there is a balance to achieve here. The overall message today is to be aware of the dangers that lurk, not to become overly obsessed with them. One thing I’ve always been aware of is how stress (internal or external), can be toxic in itself; therefore, I strongly recommend NOT to allow these things to consume your life. In many cases, people can drive themselves absolutely nuts while trying to fix such issues, and this is very damaging as well, and certainly not productive.
My goal with all of this information is to train the public in being more aware, that’s all. We have all drifted further and further away from a conscious state, and this has hurt all of us. As the years have gone by, we have all become more toxic, and this is the base for our unhealthy state today. No longer shall we be blind to the obvious health dangers that are so easy to prevent. Today is your day to start realizing the dangers and to start addressing them. It’s definitely time to wake up and start living better.
Thanks for reading! Make sure to check out the studies and publications below.
Interesting read! I occasionally have flare ups with Psoriasis and am wondering if Antioxidants can help in making the Psoriasis go away or preventing it? What are your thoughts?