A huge body of research is showing that oxidative stress plays a significant role in many chronic degenerative diseases. So what can we do to reduce oxidative stress? Fortunately, there are several things you can do, and all of them are within your control.
1. Practice moderate (not excessive) exercise. For some people, at first, this may mean a 20-minute walk. Stick to a mild exercise program every other day because strenuous exercise can increase oxidative stress. Our bodies adjust, and you can then up the exercise to your own personal fitness level. Weight resistance exercises are useful for increasing muscle, and therefore your metabolism, but never weight train two days in a row.
2. Prevent excessive stress whenever possible. While we often cannot control the stress that is happening in our lives, we can make a difference in how we react. Effective stress-reducing techniques include meditation, prayer, deep breathing, yoga, and biofeedback methods.
3. Reduce environmental toxins, such as pollutants in our air, water, and food. You may not realize that many environmental toxins exist in our water, air, and food, such as pesticides, heavy metals, and PCBs. Toxins kill through oxidative stress mechanisms. Reducing toxicities can make a big impact on the lives of those with multiple chemical sensitivities.
4. Avoid cigarette smoke. Stopping smoking is a smart, healthful decision, as cigarette smoke is a major source of toxins both for smokers and others affected by second-hand smoke.
5. Balance your exposure to the sun. In the past, we have been told to stay out of the sun to avoid the damaging radiation. Now we find that low levels of vitamin D are causing (or exacerbating) many chronic health conditions. It is important to have your doctor test your blood level of vitamin D: serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D >50 nmol/L is optimal. Supplementation may be necessary. A good way to increase your production of vitamin D is getting 15-20 minutes of the midday sun. What a great reason to have your lunch outdoors!
6. Be proactive to medications and diagnostic, or radiation treatments. It is important to discuss with your physician the pros and cons of any new medications as well as any multiple diagnostic procedures that include radiation. Sometimes we tend to get on what I call the medication rollercoaster: adding medications to counteract the symptoms and side effects of medications we are already taking. It can end up as a chemical overload, which is not the best situation for those of us with multiple chemical sensitivities.
7. Eat a healthful diet. Some foods to avoid include refined sugar and any foods which spike your blood sugar level. By eating a low-glycemic diet, you can prevent a rollercoaster of blood sugars, which can cause brain fog and the release of stress hormones. One way to enhance your healthful foods is by increasing omega-3 foods and reducing all processed foods, including refined wheat and dairy products.
8. Use high-quality supplements. A proper supplementation program can be the most important step to regaining your health. Here’s a paradigm shift: the need for supplementation at optimal levels is crucial to battle oxidative stress. I will address the benefits of supplements in a future blog post, but it’s important to consider them as effective tools in helping you reduce free radicals and therefore oxidative stress.
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