Your Cancer Answers: Learn About Fighting Oxidative Stress Through Nutrition and Exercise | Health, Medicine and Fitness
Question: Want to learn more about fighting oxidative stress through nutrition and exercise?
Although you may have heard of the term free radical in the past, most of us don’t know what it actually means. We just know it sounds bad! Because the link between free radicals and cancer is so clear, perhaps we should take a closer look at what these molecules are and how to reduce their levels in our bodies.
Simply put, free radicals are unstable molecules that our body naturally produces. Because they are unstable, they have the potential to damage healthy molecules and DNA. Oxidative stress refers to the amount of free radicals present in our body compared to the amount of antioxidants available.
This is important to measure because antioxidants have the ability to remove free radicals from our system. This means that when we have high levels of oxidative stress, we have too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants!
So how do we correct this common imbalance? There are a few simple dietary practices that can help reduce your oxidative stress. Among these are increasingly foods rich in antioxidants (mainly brightly colored fruits and vegetables) as they neutralize free radicals, focusing on a diet rich in a variety of different plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes), choosing high quality unprocessed meats, reducing alcohol intake, avoiding refined seed oils (sunflower, canola, safflower, cottonseed) and reducing refined carbohydrates (added sugars, white flour, white rice) while including whole grains instead (quinoa, whole grain bread, brown rice, whole grain cereals and crackers).
Incorporating some or all of these dietary practices can help rebalance the antioxidant to free radical ratio in your body.
Exercise is also beneficial for reducing the amount of oxidative stress in your body. Regular exercise neutralizes many of the negative effects caused by free radicals. In order to reduce exposure to free radicals, moderate exercise may be preferable to exhaustive exercise.
It’s important to include low-intensity exercise sessions like yoga, tai chi, gentle stretching, or walking into your regular exercise routine. And remember, consistency is key! Exercising regularly helps our body adapt to oxidative stress.
Other habits that can help optimize your body’s antioxidant function include getting 7-8 hours of sleep each night, managing stress levels, and making sure you wear sunscreen when exposed to direct sunlight. Start implementing some of these simple dietary and lifestyle changes today to support healthy levels of oxidative stress in your body.
If you want to learn more about fighting oxidative stress, join us for a Survival Class with Kylie Conner RDN and Tracy Tilley NP, June 15 at 5 p.m. at the Mission Hope Cancer Center. Space is limited so make reservations by calling (805) 219-HOPE (4673)
HAVE A QUESTION? This weekly column produced by the Marian Regional Medical Center, Cancer Program invites you to submit your questions to “Your Cancer Answers” at the following email address: [email protected]