What Is Oxidative Stress?

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  • Oxidative stress (OS) is a bodily state where there’s an imbalance of free radicals (exacerbated by radiation) to anti-oxidants (the defense), causing non-organ specific effects
  • OS is becoming more prevalent, exacerbated by radiation, poor diet, and lack of physical activity.
  • The human body becomes more at risk of several diseases when there are excess free radicals that severely damage the brain cell structure

Smoking, an excess of fatty foods, using your phone for hours at a time, indulging in toxic drugs. What do these all have in common? They’re all either lifestyle or environmental factors that exacerbate your risk of experiencing a heightened state of oxidative stress. 

But what is oxidative stress exactly? Essentially, it is a bodily state where there is an excess of free radicals and/or low levels of antioxidants to neutralize this excess. Free radicals are harmful byproducts created by the body during our natural metabolic processes such as breathing, digesting food, metabolizing alcohol and other drugs. At the same time, cells also produce antioxidants for mitigation. In any case where an imbalance exists, one experiences oxidative stress. Free radicals are not always harmful – they are actually necessary for life. For example, when we exercise, free radicals are released, which are beneficial for our system. A study even found that free radicals actually help the heart pump more blood in extremely stressful situations. However, these only occurred when free radicals existed in low concentrations. Because they are necessary for life, the body normally has mechanisms in place to combat their negative effects. 

However, the effects of oxidative stress have been shown to have an overall negative impact on the body. First off, it largely affects the cell membrane integrity, blocks the activity of important enzymes, and even prohibits the vital processes required for the proper functioning of the body, as well as potentially destroying our DNA structure. Down the road, oxidative stress has also been linked to the onset of several chronic disorders including Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, asthma, and male infertility. In particular, the effects of these free radicals are even more prominent in the brain because brain cells require oxygen to carry out intensive metabolic activities that also create those free radicals. 

EMFs (Electro-Magnetic Fields) and Oxidative Stress are actually positively correlated, with the former having an exacerbating effect. During natural metabolic processes, the body temporarily causes inflammation due to the free radicals, which are eventually neutralized by antioxidants. However, EMFs actually increase the inflammation that we experience to a level that can’t be neutralized, which contributes to oxidative stress. At the same time, this also inhibits the effects and activity of antioxidants, numbing the neutralization effect further. In this study, relatively younger or older mice were less efficient at fighting EMF-induced stress due to their underdeveloped/overused antioxidant defense system. However, there is still a need for further human studies conducted under standardized conditions to fully assess the impact of EMF induced Oxidative stress. Overall though most studies currently conclude that EMFs exacerbate inflammations and compromise antioxidant functionality in neutralizing growing free radical concentrations, resulting in oxidative stress. 

Several studies have also proven that heightened exposure to EMFs (Electro-Magnetic Fields) actually results in oxidative stress in many tissues of the body. This is because this type of exposure is known to increase the concentration of free radicals. At the same time, EMFs also amplify the inflammation that our body naturally creates during the metabolic processes, and inhibit the production of antioxidants. These consequences have compounding effects when contributing to the onset of oxidative stress. With this in mind, it’s important to take mitigating steps to not only reduce our exposure to EMFs but also make modifying changes to other areas of our lifestyle that may be strengthening the likelihood of experiencing oxidative stress.

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