What Happens in Oxidation?

Reviewed on 2/9/2021

Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of negative charged subatomic particles (electrons).
Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of negative charged subatomic particles (electrons).

Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of negative charged subatomic particles (electrons). The uneven number of electrons makes these highly reactive. These free radicals react with oxygen in the body. This process is called oxidation.

Oxidation is a normal process that happens in the body. It can help fight pathogens, hence reduces the risk of infections. Oxidative stress happens when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Oxidative stress can have negative effects on the body. This means the oxidative ions attack our healthy cells instead of germs. Antioxidants are molecules that can donate an electron to a free radical, which makes the free radical stabilize and become less reactive.

What are the effects of oxidative stress on the body?

When the concentration of free radicals in the body is higher than what the antioxidants can balance, it results in oxidative stress. The free radicals damage the body by damaging the cell membrane and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).

Oxidative stress can increase the risk of several diseases. These include:

What causes oxidative stress?

It is normal to have free radicals in the body as a result of exercise or inflammation. Exposure to free radicals can also be due to the environment, improper stress management, or faulty diet.

Some sources of free radicals include:

How can oxidative stress be prevented?

It is not possible to completely avoid exposure to free radicals and oxidative stress. However, there are ways to minimize the effects of oxidative stress on the body. The main thing you can do is to increase the levels of antioxidants inside the body, which would combat the formation of free radicals as much as possible. Ways to reduce or prevent oxidative stress include:

  • Consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants. This includes fruits, vegetables, and spices (berries, cherries, citrus fruits, dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, olives, nuts, fish, turmeric, green tea, onion, garlic, cinnamon).
  • Taking supplements that contain vitamin C, B, and E can help reduce oxidative stress.
  • Decreasing the amount of bad fat in the diet. Good fat is present in walnuts, almonds, fatty fish, avocadoes, etc.
  • Reducing alcohol consumption.
  • Regular and moderate exercise routine. At least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
  • Avoiding smoking or exposure to cigarette smoke and other fumes.
  • Using chemicals with caution. These include cleaning chemicals, pesticides, etc. You may switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products, pesticides, and fertilizers. Bio enzymes made from orange peels and lemon peels are excellent surface cleaners.
  • Using sunscreen prevents damage caused by ultraviolet light to the skin. Sunscreen should be used all year round, even in winters or if it is cloudy.
  • Adequate sleep and hydration are a must.
  • Avoiding overeating or binging can reduce oxidative stress. It is best to eat at appropriately spaced intervals and in small or moderate portions.

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References
Betteridge DJ. What is oxidative stress? Metabolism. February 2000;49(2 Suppl 1):3-8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10693912/

Science Direct. Oxidative Stress. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/oxidative-stress

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