I was doing my usual surfing online, and just taking note of what topics people were discussing. Some were discussing work-life balance, stress, suicidal awareness, positive attitude, and many others. A handful of people were having an interchange about oxidative stress. To no surprise, they mostly had some little or incomplete information about oxidative stress. I resorted to write briefly about the topic of oxidative stress. I hope they we all learn a thing or two more on the same.
What is oxidative stress?
as human beings, we are biochemical systems. We are made of multiple interconnected parts, and need each to work synchronously and harmoniously with the rest to maintain balance, homeostasis. Every thought, feeling/emotion, and action we take, (or don’t take) involves chemical reactions. Processes we are consciously aware of and those we are not, involve chemical processes. In general, there are about four of five types of chemical reactions that occur in the body. Nearly all, if not all, involve some transfer of electrons between chemical species, hence are called oxidation-reduction (redox) reactions. At any given time, there is always a reaction happening in the human mind and body.
Free radicals are generated during these chemical reactions. Free radicals are electron-deficient species, (have unpaired electrons in their valency shell.) These free radicals are usually removed by anti-oxidants (electron donors, to the free radicals.)
So, as you can see, sometimes our systems become overwhelmed with imbalances of free radicals, which stresses the body. We call this oxidative stress. Long-term oxidative stress appears to play a role in the development of a number of chronic diseases, according to a significant body of scientific research. Cancer, diabetes, and heart disease are examples of such illnesses. It contributes to the aging process.
At times there is anti-oxidant imbalance as well. This should be rightly called “anti-oxidative stress.” Having too much or too little of anti-oxidants in the body is not good either, and can result in halting of certain processes, which in turn may lead to damage to cells, tissues, organs, and ultimately the organism system.
At this point you must be wondering what causes these imbalances? What are the risk factors? And, what is he cure? Well, scientific research has not been entirely conclusive about all the risk factors because often, the human body interacts with something new in the environment.
Oxidative stress risk factors
Oxidative stress can be momentarily induced by the body’s natural immunological response. For instance, mild inflammation is caused by this form of oxidative stress, which is necessary and usually goes away once the immune system battles an infection or heals an injury. Oxidative stress and excessive free radical generation are caused by a number of reasons, mainly:
- Environmental factors such as pollution and radiation
Where do these free radicals come from? The answer is technical, however, I’ll do my best to keep it simple without compromising it. Our body cells have mitochondria, which are typically referred to as the powerhouse of the cell. These mitochondria power the cell by generating (ATP) energy from glucose and oxygen. Usually, along with the energy, water and carbon dioxide, are byproducts. Unfortunately, this metabolic activity generates free radicals as well. Some of the most common free radicals as a result of this reaction include superoxide, hydroxyl, and nitric oxide radical in different amounts.
As mentioned earlier, antioxidants are the neutralizing substances that remove these radicals by donating electrons for the reactions. They include vitamins A, C, and E, and others.
The imbalance results from not having adequate antioxidants in the body to neutralize the radicals produced by the reaction.
Less often, there is an excess of antioxidants, and that can slow down some processes, like how the immune system fights pathogens for example.
Please read the other article below, on this issue as well, Thank you!