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Oxidative stress is the discrepancy between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to counteract or detoxify or neutralize their harmful effects through by antioxidants. We need to start this discussion by getting our terminologies straight. So what does oxidative stress mean? What are free radicals? Let's first consider the atomic structure of an element. An atom consist of a nucleus consisting neutrons and protons (positively charged particles) with electrons (negatively charged particles) orbiting the core nucleus. The number of protons in the atom's nucleus determines the number of electrons surrounding the atom. The electrons in the outermost orbit of one atom interact with the electrons in the outermost orbit of another atom and in the process form a chemical bond that holds the 2 atoms together. In this way, atoms combine to form molecules and molecules combine to form substances. Oxidation is the process whereby electrons are removed from an atom or molecule. The result of this change can be easily observed as in when you cut an avocado or bite an apple and leave the on the dining table; the cut or bite surface quickly oxidizes turning brown similar to the rust of an exposed piece of iron. In the process of energy metabolism, oxygen obtained during respiration is used to oxidize digested food absorbed from the gut. The process of oxidizing the food to liberate energy for bodily functions is associated with certain byproducts; one of which is free radicals. A free radical is a highly reactive and unstable atom or molecules capable of stripping electrons from other cell components such as the DNA, protein or lipid they encounter in the cell in an effort to achieve stability. In the wake of trying to establish stability, free radicals create other unstable molecules that then attack neighboring cells which sets up a chain reaction. By the time a free radical chain reaction fizzles out, it may have ripped through vital cellular components like a tornado or hurricane through a town, leaving behind extensive damages. Oxidative stress is the sum total of the burden placed on the body consequent upon the production of free radicals in the normal course of energy metabolism and physiologic responses in addition to the external pressures the environment. Oxidative stress can lead to many pathophysiological conditions in the human body. Some of these include neurodegenerative diseases lie diabetic neuropathy, gene mutations and cancers, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart and blood vessel disorders, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attack and inflammatory diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Cellular stress as occasioned by oxidative stress can cause the body to age faster as reflected in skin wrinkles, irritation, inflammation and in certain cases cancer. In the body, cellular stress is frequently linked to cardiovascular disease, alzheimer's, cancer and type 2 diabetes. Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9133161

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