Oxidative stress is a process that takes place at the cellular level. It is a complicated concept that is defined as a deterioration in the cell due to the existence of free radicals. Now, what are free radicals?
Free radicals are molecules or atoms that have a great capacity to react with other molecules. They are formed as a consequence of the use of oxygen to carry out metabolic reactions. This oxygen is involved in many chemical reactions and our cells use it to carry out much of their functions.
These free radicals, as they are very reactive, can damage nearby molecules if they are not neutralized. This is oxidative stress: it is the damage produced by these free radicals.
What is oxidative stress?
As we know, oxygen is essential for our life. The cells of our body need it to function properly. What happens is that the oxygen that reaches them is transformed into reactive molecules after being used in the metabolism.
These molecules called free radicals are normally neutralized thanks to antioxidant substances. This is how to maintain a balance so that there is no damage at the cellular level.
However, there are situations in which antioxidants do not neutralize free radicals. In this way, these increase markedly within the cell and cause certain harmful changes that accelerate the aging and death of a said cell.
This is what oxidative stress consists of. In the end what happens is that this damage at the cellular level is reflected in the tissues and, consequently, in the organs. Therefore, it can be said that oxidative stress favors the appearance of certain diseases or aging.
What happens with this oxidative stress?
The main consequence of oxidative stress is the development of numerous pathologies. For example, numerous carcinogenic processes derive from this situation.
Similarly, many studies have linked skin aging with oxidative stress. Even neurological disorders or cardiovascular diseases seem to have their cause also in this problem.
What influences the development of oxidative stress?
As we have mentioned, it is a process that takes place at the cellular level. It is largely due to an insufficient amount of antioxidant substances. These antioxidants can be increased with the diet, for example. However, food is not solely responsible for oxidative stress.
There are other related factors, such as smoking, both active and passive. Other drugs such as alcohol or even medications also seem to be related. On the other hand, it has been shown that environmental pollution, exposure to sunlight or an unbalanced physical activity also increase the production of free radicals.
What can we do to prevent it?
Ideally, stay away from these mentioned factors that we already know greatly increase oxidative stress. It is essential to quit smoking, try to avoid heavily contaminated places and not actively sunbathe.
On the other hand, we can also reduce oxidative stress by taking care of our diet. If we include enough antioxidants and take care of our diet, we can largely prevent this situation. For this, experts recommend:
- Eat red fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
- Try to include in the diet foods rich in carotenes, such as carrots or sweet potatoes.
- Increase consumption of foods with vitamins A, C, and E . For example, tomato, broccoli or lemon are very rich in these vitamins.
- Use garlic in our dishes.
The ideal is to have a balanced diet that has these qualities. Also, it is preferable not to include foods high in saturated or very processed fats. Do not get obsessed, but try to adapt these types of features to our day today.
Oxidative stress is a cellular deterioration that occurs as a result of numerous factors. However, in large part, we can reduce and control it with our habits and food.
Many diseases seem to be related to this oxidative stress. Therefore, you can try to take more care of your diet and increase your intake of antioxidants. Try to consult a nutritionist to be sure of how to do it correctly.