Dear Wellness seeker
It is generally known that “oxidative stress” has harmful effects on our health.
What is oxidative stress?
Oxidation is a normal and necessary metabolic process that takes place continuously in every cell of our body to produce energy and life. As a result of this natural process of oxygen metabolism, unavoidable by-products are produced known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). During life, we are experiencing different levels of ROS at all times. Their concentration is determined between their rate of production and clearance by various enzymes and antioxidants within the body. In the healthy-state, there is a fine balance between production and clearance which is essential for life.
However, when there is an overproduction of ROS and levels exceed the body’s capacity to counteract them, they cause a toxic condition which is known as “oxidative stress”. To date, we know that prolonged oxidative stress damages our DNA, RNA, proteins, lipids, cell structures and functions that can lead to the development of pathological states such as; inflammation, pre-mature ageing, neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, and cancer.
Lifestyle choices and certain conditions and factors increase our risk of long-term oxidative stress with harmful effects on our health.
Some examples are:
-Diets that are high in fat, sugar and processed foods
-Excessive intake of iron
-Pesticides or industrial chemicals
-Radiation including excessive sunbathing
-Infections (bacterial, fungal or viral)
-Prolonged intense exercise
How can we defend ourselves from oxidative stress?
Currently, there is no concrete evidence-based medicine in this area, however, several theories have been proposed. Lifestyle choices that promote healthy living, keep the body in balance and prevent disease may be the best strategy no matter how simple this may sound.
We propose some of them:
-Regularly consume vegetables and plant-based foods and beverages as part of a balanced healthy diet. While there is no formal recommendation for the amount of antioxidants we need, the best way to obtain antioxidants is from a varied diet.
-Avoid calorie-dense refined sugars, saturated fats, and processed foods and replacing them with nutrient-dense but calorie-poor vegetables, fruits, and legumes. This will result in a vastly increased intake of health-enhancing phytonutrients, including key vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids, and other still undiscovered bioactive compounds important for our cells to work properly.
-Consume foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids as these appear to help cell membrane functions
-Avoid overeating and reduce or eliminate snacking as availability of high amounts of energy increases ROS production
-Avoid dietary antioxidant supplementation as an alternative to regular consumption of fruits and vegetables as it still remains unclear their benefit
-Exercise regularly in moderation, as this promotes the endogenous antioxidant defence capacity
-Reduce emotional stress since stress can diminish the effectiveness of the immune system and possibly the effectiveness of the antioxidant system and repair processes; start meditating and practise deep breathing techniques regularly
-Get sufficient sleep in complete darkness in order to produce the necessary amounts of melatonin – an endogenous powerful antioxidant
To Your Best Life,
Dr Kostas Pisios Internal Medicine
Your Chenot Wellness Team