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Oxidative Stress and Free Radicals: Little Known Dangers Within Our Bodies

Learn about oxidative stress, free radicals (no, this isn't an extremist political group!), antioxidants, and a scientifically proven way to reduce aging and the damaging effects of oxidative stress.

Over the past several years, it has become well known that stress is not good for our health. We generally recognize the unhealthy effects of emotional stress from our work, unemployment, family situations, failed investments, and other life challenges. But there is another type of stress that is relatively unknown, but equally unhealthy— oxidative stress.

This type of stress is relatively new to medicine, having been discovered only about 40 years ago by pioneering scientists such as Dr. Joe McCord. Prior to that, medical researchers did not believe that oxidative stress occurred in our bodies, even though it was well recognized in non-medical situations such as rusting metal. 

Oxygen is essential for life. Our bodies generate energy by combining oxygen with the food we eat. A result of this internal combustion process in our bodies, however, is the creation of damaging byproducts called free radicals.  Free radical damage in the body is known as oxidative stress.  These unstable molecules damage our cells and over time create aging in our bodies and skin. 

Due to the simple act of living, all of our bodies have oxidative stress.  Pollutants in our air and food, mental stress, smoking, and even strenuous exercise just add to this harmful burden. 

Our body produces defenses against free radicals with antioxidant enzymes such as SOD, catalase, and glutathione. When we are young, our bodies produce enough antioxidants to offset the toxic effects of free radicals.  However, as we grow older, the production of these antioxidants decreases and our bodies can’t keep up with this oxidative load.

Oxidative stress does not cause disease. However, it is becoming increasingly recognized as a major contributing factor to over 200 diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression, diabetes, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.  Data from the National Institutes of Medicine shows currently almost 98,000 scientific studies on oxidative stress and associated diseases, with numerous new studies being released daily.

Upcoming blogs will reveal that simple antioxidants are not enough to reduce oxidative stress. Scientists have discovered a way to increase antioxidants naturally within our body at a far greater rate than what we can get from fruits, vegetables, and juices.

Stay tuned for more exciting details!

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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