Oxidative stress is basically the imbalance between the body’s systemic manifestation of a reactive oxygen species and the same body’s biological system’s ability to readily detoxify or neutralize the reactive intermediates to minimize biological damage or to inability to effectively repair the subsequent damage caused by these free radicals. That is impressive science talk but what does it mean? Think of hydrogen peroxide when topically applied to blood on a cut or mixing vinegar and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). All the bubbling that you see is oxidative stress or the production of free radicals that can cause damage to any component of a cell or cell matrix, such as DNA, proteins or even lipids (fats). This is another reason why not to use peroxide (H2O2) on the skin, it is an irritant and causes oxidative stress.
Ever wonder why fish goes bad more quickly than a steak at a BBQ? Most fish, which are beneficial to eat and will increase your HDL (high density lipoprotein), are loaded with double bonds and are known to be poly-unsaturated. When a free radical forms and starts damaging one of the double bonds because it exposed to the sun before grilling, auto-oxidation takes place and the fish becomes rancid very quickly. This is called auto-oxidation. This does not happen to the steak because it lacks the many double bonds the fish has (and does not help your HDL levels either). Also, although caused by a different mechanism but easy to see, it is the same reason a peeled apple turns brown unless it’s first dunked in orange or lemon juice. Vitamin C inhibits oxidation by providing a component to stop the oxidation process. Hence Vitamin C is considered an antioxidant.
While minimizing oxidative stress is extremely important to your body’s functionality, knowing exactly what oxidative stress is might be the best way to help to combat it.
This article is intended to provide some insight into what oxidative stress is, so when you read another article saying why you need to minimize oxidative stress, it can be more easily understood.
If you have any questions relating to this or would like to know more about other general topics relating to the body’s biochemistry, please feel free to ask. It is the responsibility of those who can help others to do so. Enjoy. ~Rob