How Do You Handle Oxidative Stress? - Part 1

Written by Anil Bajnath, MD
Posted November 30, 2021

Dear Longevity Insider,

Oxidative stress is a natural phenomenon that occurs through metabolic processes in the body. It's made by the release of free radicals during the process of lipid peroxidation, which involves an enzyme called lipoxygenase producing reactive oxygen species (ROS), while breaking down fats under oxidative conditions.
In other words, oxidative stress occurs when the production of ROS exceeds the body's ability to protect itself with antioxidants.

Reactive oxygen species refers to oxygen molecules that have unpaired electrons, making them "reactive." ROS is made when oxygen interacts with other compounds; this can be caused by many external factors such as air pollution or cigarette smoke. When the produced ROS exceeds the body's protection (antioxidants), it causes the oxidation of important molecules like DNA, proteins, and lipids (fats).

These ROS include free radicals such as superoxide anions, hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl radicals, which form during normal metabolic processes. Superoxide anions refer to the combination of two oxygen molecules to form a free radical. This compound lacks an electron and can damage different types of biomolecules such as DNA, proteins, and lipids through oxidation.

Hydrogen peroxide is made when superoxide anions break apart and are known as the primary toxic molecule of ROS. Hydrogen peroxide can also damage DNA, proteins, and lipids by oxidizing them. The hydroxyl radical is formed when hydrogen peroxide reacts with the superoxide ion, producing highly reactive OH-radicals that break down cell membranes and tissues in the body.

The release of these free radicals increases when there is damage to mitochondria in our cells, which is crucial for producing energy. Mitochondria (the part of our cells that turns food into energy) has to work harder during oxidative stress and requires large amounts of antioxidants.

How Does Oxidative Stress Affect Our Body?

Because oxidative stress involves the production of free radicals, it can damage many types of molecules in our cells such as lipids (fats) and DNA. This is important because cell membranes and DNA are largely made up of lipids and contain genetic information that tells our body how to function. A study found that when there is an imbalance between ROS and antioxidants, it can cause oxidative damage to lipids in our cells.

This is important because lipids are the fatty molecules that form cell membranes and protect our cells from foreign objects. When lipid peroxidation occurs, free radicals attack the lipids in cell membranes damaging them. When the cell membrane becomes damaged, it increases permeability which allows molecules to leak into the cell causing further damage to proteins and other important molecules. Free radicals can also directly cause oxidative stress through DNA damage.

This occurs when free radicals combine with oxygen in essential parts of our DNA, such as the mitochondrial genome, which is crucial for producing energy within cells. The combination of these oxidative damages creates a domino effect throughout our body cells.

Damage to DNA results in the inability of cells to divide properly, which leads to uncontrolled cell growth. This can cause tumors and cancerous tumor cells to form all over our bodies. Damages caused by oxidative stress on lipids (fats) is important because fats are part of the lipid bilayer that forms the outer membrane of every living cell. When the lipid bilayer is damaged by ROS it leads to improper functioning in cells throughout our body.

Usually these types of damaged cells need to be removed from the body. Fortunately, it won't require surgery.

To your longevity,

Anil Bajnath MD
CEO/Founder, Institute for Human Optimization
Chief Medical Officer, Longevity Insider HQ

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