The Silent Killer: How Oxidative Stress is Slowly Destroying Your Health

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Last updated on May 6th, 2023 at 05:57 am

Have you ever wondered why you keep hearing of more and more cases of cancer, or diabetes or that you feel tired all the time, well if you are keeping everything in check and still your blood sugar levels or that general fatigue you have does not seem to go away well it could be because of oxidative stress which is caused by Free radicals ROS ( Reactive Oxygen Species).
With changing lifestyles and the increased daily stress, we all have to be under, Oxidative Stress has become a common problem yet we seem to be unaware of it.

In this blog post, we are going to discuss what oxidative stress is, and how to manage or prevent oxidative stress to live a better and healthier life.

What is oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress is the imbalance in the formation and elimination of Reactive Oxygen Species ( ROS) in your cells and in turn in your tissues and organs. Oxidative stress has been linked to several diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart issues, and bone-related problems.

This stress is caused by different types of free radicals which are collectively called Reactive Oxygen Species or ROS, which are:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide 
  • SuperOxide 
  • Singlet Oxygen
  • Hydroxyl Radicals, and
  • Superoxide Radicals

ROS forms during the biological process of metabolism and protein synthesis and are actually required for immunity and have to be kept below a certain threshold.

The natural process of the production of Reactive Oxygen Species in our cells which our body is capable of handling when fully healthy is helpful and acts as a defense mechanism of our body just like fever caused by some infection or inflammation.

However, the unnatural and high amount of ROS which causes oxidative stress is becoming a common problem and leading to increased occurrences of many diseases in seemingly healthy people.

Several research studies have shown that living in a pollution-prone area or drinking water that comes from a place exposed to heavy metals and other water-dissolved pollutants can lead to oxidative stress in your body and can cause health issues in the near future.

Oxidative stress prevents your cells from functioning normally and affects energy production, in the mitochondria which are what we use to be able to walk, think, run, and produce more energy to do basically everything.

What causes oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress is caused by the unusually high amount of ROS production in our body and can be caused by natural processes or through reasons which are lifestyle related.

Natural endogenous process

During the production of ATP( Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) as mitochondria convert enzymes into chemicals to release energy this is done through the electron transport chain in our cells this process finally results in oxygen being reduced to produce water however in 0.1 to 2% of the electrons of this electron transport chain end up as Superoxide radicals, which is a Reactive Oxygen Species( ROS).
When this normal process of up to 2% of oxidants being produced is altered due to some disease or stress or infections, ROS production goes high beyond our body’s capability to naturally handle it.

Our life is so fast-paced that none of us have any time to spare and so it’s natural that we tend to consume things that make our lives easy, from producing crops to cooking food. We are surrounded by things that have made life easy for us, or is it?

Many studies link oxidative stress and increased production of ROS to our lifestyle.

As we are using more and more fertilizers and using new industrial methods of production our bodies are increasingly being exposed to toxins and harmful substances.
Agents like pollutants, heavy metals, Nicotine, Passive smoking, Antiblastic drugs ( drugs that prevent cell growth), microplastics, or radiation from different sources promote and increase the production of ROS in our cells which causes oxidative stress.

How to reduce oxidative stress?

To manage oxidative stress we have to make sure that we are keeping infections and any other type of biological stresses at bay also if you have a very hectic schedule and it’s stressing you out or if your workplace is giving you too little time to relax start making some lifestyle changes

Get into the habit of doing regular checkups to keep any infection and possible diseases managed before they can cause any more problem

If you are someone who gets a cold and coughs every few months or you are prone to inflammation you should start a routine of multivitamins, in my case I was someone who used to get the flu every time it was flu season or even occasional cold, and during the peak covid season in 2020 I started to take Vitamin C twice daily and I have not had flu or cold in last two years now. Looking back I realized that my diet was devoid of fruits thus the requirement of taking Vitamin C and now that my body has access to vitamin C it’s keeping the flu and cold at bay.

Also, it’s extremely important that you take some time off of your busy schedule to decompress and relax when you do something which relaxes your mind.

Start eating right

Just like the expression, “ we are what we eat” remember that the modern convenience of processed food is quick and easy but if you don’t look at what it is you are eating there is a high chance you are eating food which is raising ROS in your body. So, let’s change that and start eating better where we are eating less processed and more organic food. Right food would only give you the nutrition, not the chemical stress which comes from processed food and nutritious food is important for the production of antioxidants which remove free radicals/ ROS.


Exercise and exercise regularly- when we exercise it promotes the production of antioxidant enzymes like glutathione which helps in bringing down oxidative stress.
Also, this is why when you exercise regularly it slows down the aging process of your body.
However, we have to keep in mind that we should not over-exercise as that will lead to the production of ROS or free radical oxidants.

Cut down on smoking and drinking

We all know smoking is not helping your lungs but it’s also not helping your other organs and your overall health, as nicotine from cigarettes promotes the production of ROS free radicals.

Ethanol in alcohol and its digestion in our body leads to oxidative stress and decreases GSH levels and results in the decline in antioxidant levels in your body. And this can become a serious issue that changes how our cells and tissues function.

Be careful with Antiblastic Drugs

If you are on medication for cancer or for some other issue you are taking drugs that are preventing the growth of tissues to prevent a disease from spreading there is a high chance that you are under oxidative stress, ask your doctor what can you do to fix that and also if you can use special diet which is approved by your doctor to help boost the production of antioxidants in your body that will not only help with your daily energy levels but also it will bring down the side effects of these anticlastic drugs.
Also never start or stop taking such drugs without proper consultation with your doctor.

Which substances protect against oxidative stress and the resultant cell damage?

To protect against oxidative stress we need antioxidants. Antioxidants are present in many foods, especially fruits and berries and many vitamins are essential for the production of antioxidants.
Antioxidants help fix free radicals which are produced in our bodies due to natural or environmental reasons, and thus protect against the cell damage caused by oxidative stress.

Nutrients and essential elements like Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc, Beta Carotene and lycopene, Selenium, and Phenolic Compounds are known to help in the production of antioxidants. We can get these nutrients from different foods.

Food items like spices, fruits, and berries are easily accessible and can be included in our diet to help with oxidative stress.


  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • Oregano
  • Mint( leaves )
  • Basil/Tulsi


  • Plums
  • Dates
  • Grapes
  • Watermelon
  • Papaya
  • Oranges
  • Kiwi
  • Pomegranate
  • Avocado
  • And other dried fruits are also high in antioxidants and calories.


  • Strawberry
  • BlueBerry
  • Raspberry
  • Cherry
  • Blackberry


  • VitaminC
  • VitaminE
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Icariin

Herbal Supplement

Milk Thistle

Oxidative Stress-Symptoms

Oxidative stress due to its nature of being a natural process that is always ongoing in our cells (that can be affected by external factors) is also going to have a wide range of symptoms as it does not just affect one part of our body, and that is why it’s extremely important that we fix it before it causes more problems for us and our bodies. Oxidative stress may have:

  • Neurological effects like ADHD, Parkinson’s, Autism, Depression, and Anxiety.
  • Cardiovascular effects like Heart diseases, Hypertension, and Angina Pectoris.
  • Multi-Organ Effects like Sleep Apnea, Diabetes, Hypothyroidism, Cancer, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Inflammation.
  • Digestion Related Issues like GERD, Gastric Ulcers.
  • Bone Related Issues like Gout, Osteoporosis, and Arthritis.


Multiple studies have linked Oxidative stress to so many diseases including cancer, diabetes, and even vision loss along with multiple other neurological as well as physiological issues, and mostly this is because of how our lifestyle has changed the kind of food we eat the kind of environment we have to live in and the stress under which we all function.

However, this is something that we can work on and fix if we are aware of what the problem is and have the right information to correct it. As I have explained in the article we need to cut down on smoking, and alcohol and start making our environment better with less pollution or hopefully no pollution as this is not only affecting us it’s affecting everything right down to our very cells.

With correct exercise, a good diet, and some extra nutrition we can continue to live a healthy and long oxidative-free life.