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Oxidative Stress: Everything You Need To Know

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You must have heard about oxidative stress, but do you know what it is? Well, if we explain oxidative stress in short, it is the imbalance of antioxidants and free radicals in the body. Both of these elements have their own functions in the body; however, their imbalance can cause many problems.

In the article, we will tell you all about oxidative stress, like what are free radicals? What health benefits and harms can it cause? And more. We have also put information regarding the prevention methods which you can try to balance the oxidative stress. You will also find food; you can try to control it. 


Oxidative stress is caused by free radicals. The molecules with an uneven number of electrons inside them with an oxygen coating are known as free radicals. The uneven number of electrons in the free radicals lets them react with other molecules in the body. The easy reaction capability of free radicals with the other molecules can lead to an extensive chain reaction in the body. These reactions of the free radicals with other molecules are known as oxidation processes. 

Although this process of oxidation is both harmful and beneficial depending on the situation, an imbalance of these radicals can cause oxidative stress in a person. 

In this process of oxidation, if free radicals cause problems, it causes oxidative stress. This is where antioxidants come into play as they lend an electron to the free radicals while maintaining their stability. Thus they help in balancing the oxidative stress in the body. Source

What Is Oxidative Stress?

The situation of oxidative stress occurs in a person when there is an imbalance between the antioxidant and free radicals levels. 

The cells in the body of a person make free radicals during the regular metabolic process. However, the production of antioxidants by the cells to neutralize free radicals is also done. 

Some factors which can contribute to oxidative stress in a person are:

  • Unhealthy lifestyle
  • Certain health conditions
  • Diet
  • Factors like radiation and pollution

In some cases, the immune system of the body can also trigger oxidative stress on a temporary basis. This is done by the immune system to fight an infection or while repairing an injury. This inflammation and stress triggered by the immune system go away as soon as the injury is repaired, and infection is terminated. 

Effects Of Oxidative Stress In The Body

The process of oxidation is a necessary and normal process that takes place inside the body. Oxidative stress, whereas on the other hand, occurs in the body when there is an imbalance between the antioxidant and free radical activity. If the balance is ok in the body, it helps in fighting those pathogens, which can cause infections.

If there are more free radicals in the body, it can damage the fatty tissues like protein and DNA in the body; thus, antioxidants are vital to balance them. Proteins, DNA, and lipids make up a big part of the body; thus, oxidative stress over time can cause a variety of diseases. 

Some of the diseases which are caused by oxidative stress are:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Hardening of blood vessels
  • Cancer
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Inflammatory conditions

Oxidative stress in a person’s body also contributes to quick aging. 

What Are Risk Factors?

Every person produces free radicals naturally through various processes like inflammation and exercise. This process of producing free radicals is an intricate system that the body does for keeping itself healthy. 

Other than internally produced free radicals, a person may be at risk of external environment free radicals. Some sources of environmentally present free radicals are:

  • Ozone
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Pollution
  • Certain cleaners and pesticides
  • Radiation 

Other sources of free radicals are a diet that is high in fat, alcohol, and sugar. Diet high in these three may also lead to the production of free radicals in the body.

Preventing And Managing Oxidative Stress

It is impossible to avoid exposure to free radicals and oxidative stress completely. However, there are many things that you can do to reduce the effects of free radicals and oxidative stress in the body. One of the best things you can do for balancing free radicals in the body is to increase the levels of antioxidants in the body.

Eating an antioxidant-rich diet is also a very excellent method of increasing the antioxidant levels in the body. One of the best ways is to eat at least five servings of certain fruits, which are rich in antioxidants and can help you in reducing the oxidative stress levels in the body. 

Some examples of fruits and vegetables to add to the diet for increasing antioxidant levels are:

  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Broccoli
  • Cherries
  • Prunes
  • Leafy dark vegetables
  • Olives
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes

Some other good sources of antioxidants include:

  • Nuts and fish
  • Vitamin C
  • Green tea
  • Turmeric
  • Melatonin
  • Vitamin E
  • Cinamon
  • Onion
  • Garlic

Eating these antioxidant-rich foods can greatly improve the balance of free radicals in the body, reducing oxidative stress.

Some lifestyle changes which you can make are:

  • A moderate and constant workout routine – many types of research have proven that the regular workout routine helps in decreasing oxidative stress in a person. It has also been seen to decrease the damage caused due to oxidative stress. Thus resulting in a long lifespan, reduction in aging effects, and lower risk of cancer and many other diseases.
  • Avoid Exposure To Smoke – Yes, quitting smoking can be one of the best methods for reducing the levels of free radicals in a person’s body.
  • Practicing stress-relieving yoga can also help in reducing oxidative stress.
  • Be Cautious With Chemicals – A person can reduce free radical levels by avoiding exposure to radiation as well as some cleaning chemicals. This can also be done by avoiding exposure to other sources like pesticides, which can lead to oxidative stress. 
  • Be Cautious To Environment – Yes, being environment friendly can help in the reduction of free radicals as lower pollution means lower exposure to free radicals. 
  • Reduce The Alcohol Intake – alcohol intake decreasing also helps in reducing oxidative stress as it helps in balancing the levels of antioxidants. However, you can go for some drinks like red wine, which have low alcohol levels and are high in antioxidants.
  • Get Good Sleep – Ample levels of sleep are vital for maintaining the balance of all things in the body. Sleep impacts hormone production, free radical balance, brain functioning, antioxidant production, and many other kinds of healthy things.
  • Don’t Over Eat – yes, eating less and at intervals with a moderate serving size can help in the reduction of oxidative stress. Many studies have proven that when a person constantly eats or keeps eating, the body stays in a state of oxidative stress. Thus eating at intervals is a good way to decrease oxidative stress in the body.


Antioxidants and free radicals are part of the body and very essential for maintaining good health. They are vital for optimum functioning of the body; however, their balance is essential; otherwise, it may lead to oxidative stress in a person. Oxidative stress can cause many types of damages in a person’s body, from damaging DNA to causing cancers; thus, the balance of free radicals is vital.

In the article, we have put together all the information for oxidative stress. We have also put causes of oxidative stress as well as foods that you can eat to avoid oxidative stress.

If you like the article, please do let us know in the comment box.


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