Managing Oxidative Stress
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Few “super foods” along the way that can help manage the symptoms
As we continue to learn more and more about chronic diseases, and their symptoms. We have discovered a few “super foods” along the way that can help manage the symptoms, via protection against oxidative stress. Oxidation itself is not bad, as oxidation reactions occur normally throughout your body all the time. However, too much oxidation of fatty acids can lead to a buildup of free radicals that damage proteins, cell membranes, and mutate genes. Oxidation occurs normally within our body when our cells utilize glucose to produce energy, during immune responses (adaptive and innate), and when our bodies detoxify waste. The oxidation of DNA is known to cause grey hair, arthritis, wrinkles, a loss in sight, and cancer. The result of oxidative damage depends on what gene/part of the body the oxidation effects. Diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and heart disease have been linked to oxidative stress (damage via free radicals).
Antioxidants are molecules that are able to neutralize free radicals, which protect the body. Eating plenty of foods that contain antioxidants is a good way to help your kidneys. It is recommended that dialysis patients and those suffering from chronic kidney disease should more antioxidants, as this can help slow the damage done to the kidney. Oxidative stress is one of the contributing factors to inflammation in the kidney; in fact, many of the complications of various kidney diseases are mediated via oxidative stress. Many things can induce oxidative stress in the kidneys, including (but not limited to) high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, antibiotics, chemotherapy, environmental pollutants, industrial chemicals, radiation, and smoking.
What exactly are free radicals?
By chemical definition, a free radical is a molecule that has a single unpaired electron in its structure. This lonely electron is the reason why free radicals are so reactive with usually inert molecules. Electrons normally exist in pairs. When electrons are arranged in a pair, their respective molecules are much more stable. With what we know about free radicals, some scientists have developed the free radical theory of aging (FRTA), which states that organisms age due to the accumulation of free radical damage over time.
How can you tell if oxidative stress is occurring in your body? Tiredness, memory loss, muscle pain, wrinkles/grey hair, blurry vision, headaches/sensitivity to noise, and susceptibility to infections, are all symptoms of oxidative stress. The best way to reduce the effect of oxidative damage is to eat more antioxidants (as mentioned above). Selecting organic foods rather than foods are grown using pesticides is a good way to decrease the number of free radicals that you ingest. Reducing your mental stress can also be good for decreasing your exposure to oxidative damage.