Oxidation In the Body
From just reading this heading you might be asking yourself what is oxidation and why do I need to know about it? Oxidation is a normal process or reaction that takes place in the body and is needed to produce energy (ATP) from the electrons lost from the food molecules that we eat. ATP or adenosine triphosphate is responsible for many bodily functions including metabolism, building bones, repairing tissues, muscle movement and other vital processes. Oxidation and reduction are known as redox reactions, basically oxidation involves the loss of electrons while reduction gains electrons; these two reactions work together to keep electrons balanced. Balanced electrons are important to keep free radicals balanced within the body so that they can help fight off pathogens and avoid oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals turning the free radicals unstable, resulting in damage to DNA, proteins and fatty tissue in the body. Therefore oxidation is extremely important in protecting against oxidative stress and keeping the body healthy and producing energy.
Some consequences from the damage of oxidative stress in the body can include the onset of diabetes, atherosclerosis, inflammatory conditions, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. In order to look after your health, it is imperative to maximise your body’s oxidation reactions so that oxidative stress can be minimised.
Some ways to reduce oxidative stress include:
- Consume high amounts of antioxidants from foods such as berries, citrus fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, fish, nuts and garlic. Vitamin C and vitamin E supplements are also great ways to increase antioxidants in the body.
- Regular exercise has been shown to increase antioxidants and oxidation throughout the body as well as decreasing the damage caused by oxidative stress. It is recommended to do 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week.
- Avoid smoking and high alcohol intake as both these contribute to an overflow of free radicals.
- Avoid over-eating, studies have showed that consuming too much food and constantly eating can leave the body in a state of oxidative stress compared to eating moderate amounts of food at appropriately spaced intervals.
Some benefits of making sure your body is creating oxidation reactions, receiving enough antioxidants and reducing oxidative stress include anti-ageing effects, longevity of life, greater energy, body function and metabolism and a reduced risk of chronic conditions.