Hey Angels and Alphas,
When you think of oxidative stress, what comes to mind? Most people picture themselves lying on the beach in Miami sipping pina coladas as they get a tan from the sun. In reality, however, oxidative stress can be quite detrimental to your health and your fitness progress and performance in the gym.
Read on to learn more about what oxidative stress is, what it does, and how you can reduce its effects on your body!
What is oxidative stress?
Oxidative stress is a term that describes an imbalance between the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and a biological system’s ability to readily detoxify or repair these ROS. ROS are chemically active molecules that can damage cell structures such as DNA, proteins, or lipids. If left unchecked, oxidative stress can result in chronic inflammation, which can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Exercise has been shown to counteract oxidative stress by reducing ROS production and increasing antioxidant defenses. Furthermore, exercise helps reduce chronic inflammation by promoting healthier blood vessels, which better deliver blood carrying oxygen throughout the body.
How do free radicals affect you when working out?
Free radicals can be produced by a variety of factors, including exercise, environmental pollution, smoking, lack of sleep, poor dieting habits, as well as many medications. When you work out your body produces free radicals.
Free radicals are not necessarily bad for you. In fact, they can help stimulate muscle growth by inducing an inflammatory response. However, if your body does not have enough antioxidants to keep up with production these free radicals can start to accumulate which causes oxidative stress.
This accumulation then prevents the muscles from repairing themselves after workouts which affects your progress and performance in the gym. As a result, it is crucial that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables with high antioxidant content such as blueberries or strawberries to help protect yourself against oxidative stress while working out
Oxidative stress and its relationship to your diet
Oxidative stress is caused by an imbalance between your body’s production of free radicals and its ability to neutralize them.
This can lead to a number of health complications, but it also impacts your fitness progress and performance in the gym. For example, oxidative stress can be responsible for muscle fatigue, decreased muscle force, or compromised immune function.
To combat this negative effect, look for foods that are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C (e.g., oranges), vitamin A (e.g., carrots), beta carotene (e.g., sweet potatoes), lycopene (tomatoes), selenium (Brazil nuts) or flavonoids which protect against cell damage that may cause disease.
Tips to minimize free radical damage to your body
One way to protect your body from oxidative stress is to increase your intake of antioxidants. Foods that are rich in antioxidants include vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans and grains.
However, if you don’t have time to eat a variety of these foods every day, supplements are also available. Another way to avoid free radical damage is by exercising regularly. A recent study found that people who exercised had lower levels of oxidative stress than those who didn’t exercise at all.
How to minimize oxidative stress in your life
1. Stop Eating Processed Foods. Processed foods are high in sugar, which can increase inflammation and damage cells.
2. Avoid Added Sugar. Added sugar comes from sources such as juice, sodas, desserts, sauces, ketchup, etc.
3. Eat Lots of Whole Grains & Legumes. Whole grains offer tons of fiber to keep your gut healthy (especially when paired with legumes), while also providing you with important nutrients like magnesium, zinc and folate.
4. Drink Water. Hydration is crucial for a healthy body; drink water to replenish fluids lost during exercise or other activities throughout the day
5. Get Enough Sleep! A lack of sleep has been linked to oxidative stress and can impair your immune system
6. Exercise Regularly. Physical activity reduces oxidative stress by promoting cellular health through increasing oxygen flow and creating new mitochondria within the cells. In addition, exercising will allow you to have more control over your diet since exercise allows you to burn more calories each day than rest does. Finally, regular workouts may also improve cognitive function by improving blood flow in regions of the brain that control things like memory formation, concentration and decision-making skills!