Oxidative stress is a threat to health. It can be at the root of serious diseases like heart disease and cancer, or simply make you fatigued. Oxidative stress is caused by chemicals in the diet and in the environment. Many of these chemicals produce free radicals, which are electrons that are not tightly bound to the molecule. These electrons interact with the body. Think of the chemicals as electronic “bullets”. Antioxidants are the body’s “bullet-proof vests”. Free electrons cause damage to tissue and inflammation. This can seriously undermine your health.
Antioxidants can be found in the diet. Plants are very high in antioxidants. Photosynthesis is a highly oxidative process. Free electrons could potentially cause a lot of damage to the plant during photosynthesis, so the plant produces pigments like chlorophyll and bioflavonoids. These are the dark pigments found in plants. Plant food that is dark green, blue, purple, orange or red is very high in antioxidants. We buy these pigments or flavonoids as supplements. Things like bilberry, silymarin, and quercitin are all bioflavonoids.
Similarly, eating unhealthy foods like refined white sugar, white flour, hydrogenated oils and chemical additives, create oxidative stress. These foods should be avoided.
Vitamins that are antioxidants include vitamin C, beta carotene (carotenes are also plant pigments that protect against oxidative stress), glutathione, and vitamin E. These nutrients can also be found in a healthy diet.
Dietary / Lifestyle Guidelines:
In order to limit oxidative stress, you should eat nutritions food in its natural state. Follow the guidelines below:
1. Drink an adequate amount of water each day:(adults): Water is necessary to keep the cells hydrated and protected, to eliminate waste and ensure the health of mucus membranes.
2. Eat plenty of vegetables: Plenty means that at least half of the food eaten (by volume). Vegetables are very high in fiber, vitamin C, folic acid and minerals.
3. Avoid deep fried food, partially hydrogenated oil and hydrogenated oil: As time passes, we keep finding out more and more bad things about hydrogenated oil and fried foods. Cell membranes are partially composed of fat, and the fats that you eat will eventually find their way into your cell membranes. Hydrogenated oils are pro-inflammatory and can be incorporated into membranes, weakening them and making them more prone to microbial and chemical invasion. They are linked to cancer, heart disease and many other disease processes.
4. Avoid refined sugar: Eating refined sugar increases oxidative stress. It also increases insulin and adrenal hormone production and can cause the body to excrete essential minerals and increases the body’s need for vitamins B & C.
5. Avoid refined carbohydrates: They create all of the same health problems created by refined sugar.
6. Avoid chemical additives: Avoid processed foods and chemicals. The average American consumes 10 pounds of chemical additives every year. Many of these chemicals create free radicals and oxidative stress. This has had a devastating effect on our health.
7. Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly:Ideally, you should chew food until it is liquid.
8. Exercise regularly: Your health care practitioner will discuss exercise with you.
9. Never skip meals: