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Oxidative Stress

Oxidative Stress can be likened to ‘biological rusting’. Oxidative stress is part of life, all life. It is the process that causes us to age. It involves one molecule taking an electron (oxidation) from another molecule. It happens literally billions of times every second in your body. When a molecule loses one of its electrons, this changes the chemistry and shape of the molecule, and therefore can alter its function. How does our body deal with this?

Antioxidants can be thought of as floating bags of electrons. We get them in foods and in supplements. Different antioxidants are found in different environments within the body – vitamin E works in a different locale than does vitamin C. When a reaction of oxidation occurs, an antioxidant in the area can stop the damage by donating an electron to the molecule that just had its electron stolen. Think of it this way: oxidation is like having the pin pulled from a hand grenade, and then the antioxidants go and put the pin back into the grenade before it can blow up!

Oxidative stress is part of normal biology. It occurs with exercise; when making energy in every mitochondria in every cell; during digestion; from sunlight; and with many other processes. It is increased with exposure to toxins, increased inflammation, increased acidosis, and with every disease. The process of Oxidative Stress produces molecules called ‘Free Radicals’; they are special because they are missing electrons. They need the electrons to stabilize themselves and that is why they search for them, and the process of oxidation occurs.

When we are young, most of us have balanced oxidative stress. We have a lot of antioxidants to quiet the needs of the free radicals. As we age, and our exposure to toxins, infections, chemicals, etc. increases, our supply of antioxidants slowly cannot keep up with the demand. The oxidative stress in our bodies then begins to become dominant, and we age more quickly.

You can follow oxidative stress through blood chemistry. There are many parameters that reflect the strength of the oxidative stress in our body and our ability to control it. Controlling oxidative stress is the foundation of any serious anti-aging effort. However, as with all things biological, the key is balance. Measure the levels of your anti-oxidants. Measure the amount of the oxidative stress in your system. Find out how your individual body struggles, and then supply specifically what it needs.

Author: Dr. David Luce

W. David Luce, M.D., P.C. is a Board Certified Internist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado. He is recognized as a innovator and thought leader in the integration of Western medicine with complimentary therapies.

Dr. David Luce | MD

W. David Luce, M.D., P.C. is a Board Certified Internist in private practice in Boulder, Colorado. He is recognized as a medical innovator, educator, public health advocate, and a leader in the integration of evidence-based Western medicine with complimentary therapies. Educated at Dartmouth, Harvard and Yale, Dr. Luce has over 20 years experience designing and implementing innovative treatment programs that restore health and wellness to his ...

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