Factors like aging, sickness, poor diet choices, lack of sleep, and other daily stressors can leave us feeling less than our best. But consumer research shows that we’re ready for a solution. In fact, 64% of global consumers say they take a proactive approach to health. To achieve this goal, they need to better understand the effects of daily stressors on overall wellness and how to counteract them.1
The first step to understanding the effects of daily stressors on wellness is learning this important point – the impacts of daily stressors share a common, underlying physiological condition known as oxidative stress.
But what else do you need to know about this important topic? Don’t worry – we’ve sorted through the information for you and answered your top 3 questions about oxidative stress:
- What are oxidative stress and ROS?
- Why are oxidative stress and ROS concerning?
- What are antioxidants and how do they help?
1. WHAT IS OXIDATIVE STRESS AND ROS?
Many normal biological processes produce oxidants in the form of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). ROS are a type of free radical molecule – molecules that are unstable due to a ‘missing’ electron. These molecules seek to stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from other parts of the body. This process can create oxidative damage and, long-term, a state of oxidative stress.
When functioning properly, the body maintains a slightly pro-oxidative state. In this state, free radicals play several beneficial roles, such as helping fight off pathogens. Internal (endogenous) and dietary (exogenous) sources of antioxidants help maintain this healthy balance.2
But when we experience too many of the daily stressors mentioned above, free radical production throws our body out of balance, leading to oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress can occur when free radicals turn to the structure of a normal, healthy cell to restabilize.
2. WHY IS OXIDATIVE STRESS AND ROS CONCERNING?
ROS can negatively affect several cellular structures on a molecular level. For example, proteins can lose their enzymatic activity, lipoproteins can lose function, and mutagenesis (mutations or unnatural alterations) can occur in DNA as a result of ROS.2
These specific and local effects can have consequences on how we feel, with a direct impact on healthy aging, immunity, heart health, and cellular health.2
3. WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS, AND HOW DO THEY HELP?
Thankfully, we aren’t defenseless to the relentless attacks of ROS brought on by our modern, Western lifestyle. Our bodies can produce their own antioxidant molecules and enzymes as a line of defense.
We can also combat the impact of ROS by eating a variety of antioxidants created by plants. These antioxidants can neutralize the unstable free radicals by “donating” their electrons without becoming unstable themselves.
Antioxidants quench free radicals by ”donating” an electron to the free radical, restabilizing it.
More About Antioxidants
Antioxidants come in many varieties, each with unique chemical properties and behaviors. Interestingly, fruits and vegetables are the most significant source of dietary antioxidants.
Polyphenols-rich foods, like those found in the Mediterranean diet, promote oxidative balance and help support better overall health and well-being. These foods are a key component of an ideal anti-oxidative stress solution – not eliminating ROS but promoting healthy oxidative balance within the body.