What is Oxidative Stress? (And How to Prevent it)

on April 23, 2021

Free radicals and antioxidants are carefully balanced in the body. However, too many free radicals can lead to oxidative stress. This process can, over the long-term, lead to a range of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

In this article, we’ll explain what oxidative stress is, some of the ways it affects our bodies, and share some tips on how to prevent it.

What is oxidative stress?

As mentioned, oxidative stress is caused by too many free radicals in your body. These oxygen-containing molecules are highly reactive. Therefore, they can lead to numerous problems, by disrupting and reacting with other molecules in your body. By damaging these molecules, they cause oxidative stress. Some common examples of free radicals include superoxide, hydroxyl radical, and nitric oxide radical. These free radicals are often formed as a byproduct of your metabolism. However, they can also be caused by cigarette smoke, pesticides, and ozone.

In contrast, antioxidants reduce the effects of free radicals by stabilizing them. Once stabilized, they’re no longer prone to reactions, and so less damage is caused. So-called superfoods are often lauded for having high levels of antioxidants. These antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E.

How oxidative stress works

How does oxidative stress affect the body?

Oxidative stress is an entirely normal part of ageing. In fact, free radicals themselves aren’t always harmful. They’ve even been known to fight off infectious bugs. But too many free radicals and too much oxidative stress can lead to detrimental effects, especially if persistent over the long-term. Additionally, exercise can increase free radical production, helping to regulate tissue growth and also stimulating antioxidant production.

Damage can occur to DNA, proteins, and fatty tissue within the body. This can contribute to many conditions that are increasingly common today. Mostly these conditions are associated with chronic inflammation.

Here are a few examples:

  • Hardened blood vessels
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases
  • Arthritis

In many cases, oxidative stress leads to inflammation. In response, your body attempts to fix the damaged tissue, but the response only worsens the problem. Prolonged oxidative stress further exasperates the issue until a person enters a vicious cycle of damage and repair.

Woman doing yoga on the beach

How to prevent oxidative stress?

There are numerous lifestyle changes people can make to reduce oxidative stress and excess free radical production. First and foremost, a healthy lifestyle is essential. Reduced consumption of processed food, quitting smoking, and regular exercise will all have noticeable results. Furthermore, eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables will ensure you get some of your daily dose of antioxidants.

However, there is a surefire way to ensure you reduce the effects of oxidative stress: supplements. Vitamin supplements and other varieties can load your body up with antioxidants, providing a protective barrier against potential free radical damage.

In conclusion, oxidative stress is a significant risk factor for chronic diseases. However, by changing your lifestyle and taking a supplement, you can reduce the risks and live a long, healthy life.



This blog post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The views and nutritional advice expressed are not intended for the purpose of providing medical advice. Please always consult your health care provider if you are experiencing any medical conditions. All content on this page has been thoroughly reviewed. Nevertheless, no liability can be accepted for the completeness and accuracy of the information.