Oxidative Stress – What is it?

What is Oxidative Stress? Your body constantly reacts with oxygen as you breathe and your cells produce energy. This activity produces highly reactive molecules called free radicals. 

These free radicals interact with other molecules within cells. They steal electrons from healthy cells in your body, consequently breaking down these cells. This can cause oxidative damage to proteins, oxidative membranes and genes in healthy cells as shown in the diagram below. Look at the apple as an example. If you cut an apple in half and leave it exposed to the air it will eventually turn brown. This is due to free radicals damaging its cells and causing it to rot. 

Over 220 known diseases and illnesses have been attributed to Oxidative Stress in our bodies, causing cell and DNA damage. 

Oxidative stress leads to many pathophysiological conditions in the body. Some of these include neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, gene mutations and cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart and blood vessel disorders, atherosclerosis (hardening and narrowing of the arteries), heart failure, heart attack and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, psoriasis, and fibromyalgia. 


Oxidative stress

Oxidative damage has a considerable impact on the body’s aging process and has been implicated, but not proven to be part of the cause of many diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s.

External factors such as pollution, poor diet, sunlight, excessive exercise, certain medications, and smoking, also trigger the production of free radicals.


Examples of some of the diseases caused by OXIDATIVE STRESS can be found on the Government website: PubMed 

PubMed is a service of the US National Library of Medicine® that: Provides free access to MEDLINE®, the NLM® database of indexed citations and abstracts to over 27 million medical, nursing, dental, veterinary, health care, and preclinical sciences journal articles.  

Once on the site type ‘Oxidative Stress’ and the name of the specific disease of interest to you into the search box to access all relevant studies e.g. I typed in ‘Oxidative Stress and Arthritis’ and found 1,316 studies that link the two.

How does Oxidative Stress affect us?

health effects of Oxidative Stress

By looking at the picture on the left you can see that so many diseases and illnesses are caused by Oxidative Stress damage. (about 220 known medically). Can you relate to any of them or know a friend or family member that does?

Most prescribed pharmaceutical drugs only mask the problem and can cause other side effects. The true cause, in many cases, is down to Oxidative Stress (the result of Free Radical damage). 

So, what are, Free Radicals?

Click HERE to find out more.