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Stress & Your Health »
What is Oxidative Stress?

We all have come to understand and accept the importance of anti-oxidants in our diet. Anti-oxidants help our body, and actually each cell in our body, to detoxify or repair damage caused by a toxic intra-cellular environment that causes oxidation. Oxidative stress describes an environment within the cell where the cell’s ability to readily detoxify or repair damage has been breached.
Stressors that increase a toxic environment for the cell are the same stressors that we already know about:

  • Prolonged psychological stress (trauma, toxic relationships, living with a mental health diagnosis for too long)
  • Unhealthy food choices (processed and high glycemic foods, sweets, alcohol, caffeine)
  • Environmental exposure to toxins (pesticides, hormones, heavy metals in our air)

All these stressors act on several levels : chemically, oxidative stress causes a reduction in the master anti-oxidant glutathione; more severe oxidative stress can cause gene expression to be altered toward illness, meaning, we get sick more readily and become more vulnerable to chronic conditions. Oxidative stress is thought to be involved in the development of many illnesses or may worsen symptoms of existing conditions; a major portion of long-term effects results in DNA damage.

Research has implicated oxidative stress in all major psychiatric conditions, and especially Autism, Schizophrenia, and bi-polar disorder. Medical conditions include all cancers, chronic fatigue, heart disease, diabetes, metabolic problems and auto-immune disorders.

Individual choices in regards to stress management, diet and exercise as well as the chemicals we use in our daily environments can make a difference and can alter gene expression toward health or illness. After all, you are what you eat and what you do.