What is Oxidative Stress?
An attempt at explaining oxidative stress is first to state that, by-product of the metabolic processes that go on with every tick of time in our day to day living are molecules which lack a proper balance of electrons on their electrical charge.
Now, because nature abhors a vacuum, the body is prone to make effort to have the electrical charge on these molecules balanced, so as to keep them stable.
When these molecules produced from the metabolic processes in the body are not electrically balanced, they are called free radicals.
As their name implies, these molecules are not only free, they are freely mobile and they are radicals, posing great danger to the cells of the body.
Under normal circumstances, the body uses certain nutrients called antioxidants to provide the missing electrical charge on the surface of free radicals so as to have them balanced and stable.
Antioxidant nutrients include common names such as vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E and such minerals such as Selenium and Zinc.
There are also the less commonly known (yet much more potent) antioxidants like co-Enzyme Q10, Glutathione, Superoxide Dismutase, Dimethylglycine (DMG) to name just a few.
All these are found mainly in plant based organic foods like fruits and vegetables.
However, most of them are also easily destroyed by common habits like overcoming, frying in vegetable oils, micro waving smoking, alcohol and over-processing of food.
Even the little that we eat are soon depleted by stress and excessive use of chemical drugs like antibiotics, air pollution and already existing diseases in the body.
Now back to oxidative stress; The body uses antioxidants to wage war against the ravaging effects of free radicals.
The process by which antioxidants donate electrons to free radicals to neutralize them is called oxidation.
When the body is deficient of antioxidants due to poor nutrition or other negative lifestyle habits, the body begins to loose the war against free radicals.
Then, the free radicals will have the liberty to obtain electrons to balance their charges from other sources.
The most easily available sources are the membranes of cells that make up the organs of the body, including that of the respiratory and the cardiovascular systems, the pancreas, the kidneys, the brain and even the reproductive systems.
When free radicals take electrons from the surface of cell membranes, these membranes get denatured and begin to malfunction.
It is the malfunctioning of the cell membranes that result in things like chronic inflammatory changes which is prelude to spasm of the muscles of the breathing system, as in the case of asthma.
The attack and destruction of the cell membranes by free radicals is also called oxidation and the injury is called oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress may go on for years before it can produce disease if unchecked.
But it may also produce symptoms within a short time as it’s seen in the case of asthma where both inherited and acquired deficiencies position the body negatively for such a disorder.
Oxidative stress is the reason why we age!
The degree of oxidative stress we undergo determines the extent of our aging and age-related disorders like Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes millitus, cancer etc.
Oxidative stress is like the rust of metals.
It is the rusting of our body caused by oxidative stress that we see as aging. This is the reason when one is under severe oxidative stress, one appears older than one’s age.
Another man who makes effort to give the body what it needs to counter oxidative stress will always look younger than his age.