Understanding oxidative stress and the effects it has on the body

In a nutshell, Oxidative Stress is the production of free radicals and the body’s inability to neutralise these with sufficient antioxidants, which causes ageing, among other issues.  It is a process that occurs naturally in the body, whereby cells produce free radicals during the metabolic process and the cells also produce antioxidants which balance out these effects.

The body’s natural immune response can also trigger Oxidative Stress, in the form of inflammation, which subsides when it has fought off the infection or repaired the injury.

The naturally occurring ageing process happens during Oxidative Stress, however, if uncontrolled, it can accelerate this process, as well as contribute to illness. 

It is important to note that your body requires both antioxidants and free radicals, therefore, too much of either can cause health issues.  To help to maintain a good balance you need:

❦ Quality sleep: Some people function better on more, some on less sleep than others, everyone is different and you know your body better than anyone.  Its the quality of sleep that’s important, therefore, reduce phone/computer screen time at least an hour before bed time as the bright light stimulates the brain and causes restless sleep. Meditation before bed is also a good relaxation technique.

❦ Regular exercise: Its about setting goals & being disciplined and according to leading psychologists, your resolve is stronger in the beginning of the day than towards the end, so, set your alarm a bit earlier and fit in exercise as soon as you wake up or at the early part of your day.  A good balance between cardiovascular exercise and weight bearing exercise has been proven to make a big difference to your overall health and wellbeing, reducing stress and improving your mood.  

❦ A nutritious diet and hydration: A diet rich in vegetables, especially of the green leafy variety, including oily fish, chicken and lean meat is recommended. Drink enough water! Dehydration causes health issues as well as inhibits your results from all the hard work at the gym, due to lowered muscle activation.

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