Oxidative load

Oxidative load

Margie GanderMay 31, '20

When we think about oxidative stress and how it can make us age faster. I know that when I think of this, I picture an apple going brown and immediately think of my wrinkles! I also wonder what could be going on in the inside too.

Oxidative stress occurs when excess oxygen radicals are produced in your cells, which can overwhelm your normal antioxidant capacity (which is unique to each and every one of us). When the concentration of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is not controlled by internal defense mechanisms, oxidative damage occurs to proteins, lipids, and DNA in your cells. Your antioxidant capacity and the enzymes encoded by the key genes involved in regulating oxidative stress become overwhelmed and this can lead to cytotoxicity (toxins that kill cells), genotoxicity (damages the genetic information within a cell causing mutations), and even carcinogenesis (when damaged, mutated cells proliferate). Sounds awful, right?

A deeper look

The equilibrium between oxidative stress and antioxidant protection is vital for the correct functionality of your cells. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) produced under oxidative stress are known to damage all cellular biomolecules (lipids, sugars, proteins, and nucleotides). As a result, your cells have developed several defense systems to prevent uncontrolled ROS/free radical activity and damage. This army is made up of:

  1. Non-enzymatic antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamins A, C, and E
  2. Antioxidants present in your diet
  3. Enzymatic antioxidants of ROS such as superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) which are all encoded by the genes with the same name 

Where does oxidative stress come from?

Oxidative stress can be made deep inside your mitochondria and can come from the environment.  

Your mitochondria are the main source of ROS/free radicals in your cells. The production of superoxide and the conversion to hydrogen peroxide inside your mitochondria give off ROS/free radicals. 

Furthermore, ROS/free radicals can modulate the expression of several genes through the redox regulation of the nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nfr2) and the nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kB). Too much ROS or oxidative stress can "switch-off" these genes expression resulting in less protection in your body. 

It is best not to think of oxygen radicals as "bad". They are generated in a number of reactions essential to life and, as mentioned above, phagocytic cells generate radicals to kill invading pathogens. Oxidative stress inside your body can also be due to your immune response. The activation of the immune system in response to invading microorganisms that result in inflammation also results in oxidative stress. So an immune system under pressure, especially long-term, can lead to cell damage and chronic disease. 

Oxidative stress could result from being exposed to free radicals in your environment such as xenobiotics, radiation, and toxins. 

    This table is great for identifying "where" your oxidative stress overload could be coming from:

    Mitochondrial by-products Pollutants 
    Immune response  Medicines
    Radiation and chemotherapy
    Toxins including cigarette smoke


    Oxidative stress role in disease 

    Research has shown us that oxidative stress contributes to the manifestation of many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), atherosclerosis, diabetes, arthritis, neurodegenerative disorders, and pulmonary, renal, and hepatic diseases. These pathologic states increase with age, and oxidative stress is believed to be a major factor in ageing and ageing-associated diseases. 

    Oxidative stress is an imbalance in oxidant and antioxidant levels. If an overproduction of oxidants overwhelms the antioxidant defenses, oxidative damage of cells, tissues, and organs ensues. If this happens every day, over a long period of time, the effects are compounded in your body and your start to "tip over" into a disease state. 

      Could I be more susceptible than others?

      This is a classic case of balancing the input and the output, of the exposure versus the genetics and diet. 

      If you know that you carry the risk genotype in one or more of the genes involved in regulating oxidative stress, you'll be in a much better position to manage the balance in your cells and prevent oxidative overload by "adding-in" nutrient co-factors that support better antioxidant enzymatic action.

      Genes Function Test Nutrient cofactors
      Responsible for scavenging 'oxidants' (free radicals) and protects cells against oxidative stress.  

      Encodes a member of the glutathione peroxidase family, which contains important antioxidant enzymes and helps detoxify hydrogen peroxide with glutathione, and thereby protect cells against oxidative damage. It protects the hemoglobin in red blood cells from oxidative breakdown.

      Encodes the antioxidant enzyme, catalase. This enzyme is responsible for the rapid conversion of hydrogen peroxide molecules to water and oxygen. Decreased CAT activity can lead to increased oxidative stress.





      Regulates the production of nitric oxide (NO). 
      Nitric oxide is a reactive free radical which acts as a biologic mediator in several processes, including neurotransmission, antimicrobial and antitumoral activities. 

      Omega 3 

      Broad Antioxidant 

      Regulates the expression of antioxidant proteins that protect against oxidative damage triggered by injury and inflammation.



      Encodes the enzyme 8-oxoguanine, a mutagenic base byproduct that occurs as a result of exposure to reactive oxygen/free radicals. 

      Vitamin E

      Vitamin C

      Carotenoids & Flavonoids

      Encodes for the epoxide hydrolase 1 enzyme that 
      plays an important role in both the activation and detoxification of exogenous chemicals such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). 
      Multivitamin with Phytonutrients


      The biomarkers

      Once you have identified your oxidative stress genotype and know whether this is an area that you need to support, you can then measure and track your oxidative stress levels by testing for key biomarkers.  

      You can order one of the following two tests online to get a complete insight into your oxidative stress levels and profile: 






      Nutrition, environment and lifestyle choices for oxidative overload

      When it comes to balancing oxidative stress and your unique antioxidant response; your daily choices really count. You can divide your choices into a 3-prong attack!


      Nutrition Environment  Lifestyle
      Eat like a rainbow by including vegetables and fruits of all colours Reduce your "toxic exposure" in order to reduce the oxidative stress /free radicals coming in from the outside Daily cardio of 30 mins is great for mitochondrial health - either to support their function or to create new mitochondria
      6 cups of fruit and veggies daily to ensure sufficient non-enzymatic antioxidant intake Swap out your cosmetics for clean beauty options. You can get inspiration by visiting our ENVIRONMENT shop Be careful not to "over-exercise" as this creates his levels of oxidative stress that need to be re-balanced 
      Add in antioxidant supplements if you don't eat this number of servings or have a medium to high impact genetic variation in one or more of the oxidative stress genes Be mindful of your environment at home and at work. If you have high exposure to pollutants, you need to find ways to protect yourself and also increase your antioxidant intake! Avoid smoking and second-degree smoke
      Seek out nutrient-dense foods that are organic, free-range Swap out household products for cleaner options Balance your stress. High exposure to stress hormones trigger the immune response resulting in increased oxidative stress


      Visit our integrated OXIDATIVE STRESS SHOP which has been curated to help you put all of these choices together. 

      Managing and balancing oxidative stress is worth the effort as it is a component of over 200 diseases! This is HUGE. 


      Marguerite Doig-Gander
      BA (Speech, Hearing & Lang Therapy) Hons | FMCHC | ReCODE Coach | Men's Health |  HMX Genomics & Biochemistry (Candidate)  

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