The Ultimate Guide to Oxidative Stress


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Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules produced in the body naturally as a byproduct of metabolism (i.e., oxidation) or by exposure to environmental toxins such as ultraviolet light and tobacco smoke. Their instability stems from the fact that they contain at least one unpaired electron in their outer shell. Our body typically keeps a tight lid over the number of free radicals – but, occasionally, it loses control. And this results in more free radicals present in the body than can be kept in balance by antioxidants. This presents a dangerous situation. To understand why you’ll first need to know that electrons dislike being alone. So, in the case of free radicals, they’re constantly seeking out another electron for themselves (which then stabilizes them). They do so by circulating in the body, pouncing on and binding to anything they encounter, including healthy cells, proteins, and DNA. This phenomenon is known as oxidative stress, and it can cause irreversible damage to the body

Related: Vivoo Oxidative Stress Box

What causes an increase in free radicals?

Under normal circumstances, your body ensures a balance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body – a state referred to as “oxidative equilibrium.” Free radicals do not cause damage to your body so long as this oxidative stability is maintained. That said, two things could disrupt this delicate balance. The first is an increase in the production rate of free radicals, and the second is a decrease in the removal rate of free radicals. 

The excessive production of free radicals (and, in turn, oxidative stress) can be caused by several reasons. Examples include:

Oxidative Stress

  • Lifestyle
  • Diet
  • Environmental conditions such as pollution, radiation
  • Alcohol consumption and tobacco products
  • Exposing hazardous chemicals and pesticides
  • Chronic inflammations
  • Aging
  • Some medications 
  • Excessive physical exercise

Effects of excess free radicals on the body 

By circulating in the blood, free radicals risk causing widespread damage to the whole body – including all organs, tissues, and cells.

Oxidative stress can physically manifest as:

  • Fatigue
  • Memory loss 
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Wrinkles and gray hair
  • Decreased eyesight
  • Headaches and sensitivity to noise
  • Susceptibility to infections 


Malondialdehyde (MDA) is the end product of lipid peroxidation (i.e., the process where free radicals attack fat molecules in the body). An increase in free radicals can lead to excessive lipid peroxidation and, in turn, oxygen damage in tissues. In other words: an increase in free radicals can cause an overproduction of MDA.

MDA can be detected in most biological samples (e.g., serum, plasma, tissues, and urine). The compound’s easy detection explains why it’s now one of the most often reported analytes for evaluating oxidative stress effects’ on lipids. MDA is an oxidative stress biomarker in various disorders, including psychiatry, asthma, and cardiovascular disease.

Evaluation of MDA with Urine

The number of free radicals and, thus, the level of oxidative damage present in the body can be determined by measuring MDA levels in urine. Put, you can use your MDA level as a rough indicator of the body’s current oxidative stress level. In general, the body produces an excessive amount of free radicals due to factors like repeated exposure to an unpleasant environment, excessive exercise levels, overconsumption of food, and an inconsistent sleep pattern, among other things. It highlights why you should pay attention to the concentration of MDA in your urine; high levels of the compounds suggest that you may need to tweak certain aspects of your daily lifestyle habits.

Relying on urine MDA measurement as an indicator of oxidative stress in the body provides two benefits. The first is that it’s a low-cost and straightforward procedure; it doesn’t require sophisticated equipment. The second is that the urine test is more sensitive than even the MDA serum-free radical tests.

Possible Results

antioxidants for Oxidative Stress

Free radicals can damage DNA – predisposing them to breakage. Furthermore, the oxidation of lipids can also harm various cellular components, including cell membranes, ultimately leading to cell death. Free radicals can also oxidize individual amino acids (i.e., the building blocks of protein), changing their structure, then compromising the protein’s enzymatic function. 

Oxidative damage’s harmful effects on the body can sometimes be reduced with simple measures, including increasing one’s antioxidant intake. However, it’s also worth noting that oxidative stress can ultimately lead to severe diseases in some instances. This ultimately depends on the amount of oxidative stress the body’s subjected to. 

Score: 10/10, Label: Optimal, Value:

NegativeOptimal oxidative stress level: if Vivoo measures a negative urine MDA value, your body is maintaining the necessary balance between free radicals and antioxidants. 

Score: 7/10, Label: High, Value:

PositiveToo many free radicals compared to antioxidants: if Vivoo measures a positive urine MDA value, it means that your body contains way too many free radicals compared to antioxidants – and is thus subjected to oxidative stress. Chronic oxidative stress could potentially contribute to rapid aging and the development of certain diseases.

What could be the long-term negative consequences?

Excessive free radicals in the body can change how your cells code genetic information, resulting in errors in protein synthesis, which, in turn, changes protein structure. Altered proteins can harm the immune system – which paves the way for various disorders.

water for Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress (due to the disruption of the balance between free radicals and antioxidants) can cause the following conditions in the long term:

  • Early aging
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Allergies
  • Liver and kidney diseases
  • Neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s)
  • Obesity-related disorders
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Diabetes
  • Vision disorders 
  • Skin lesions such as those caused by sun damage

Lifestyle Changes 

The body needs both free radicals and antioxidants. The important thing is to maintain the balance between them. The key to preventing free radical formation lies in eliminating oxidative stressors. Below, find a list of nutrition and lifestyle recommendations that’ll help you do exactly that (i.e., eradicate oxidative stressors in the body): 

  • Eat a balanced diet rich in vegetables and fruits
  • Limit processed foods, especially foods high in sugar and fat
  • Meditation
  • Quit smoking
  • Reduce stress
  • Prevent or reduce exposure to pollution and chemicals
  • Maintain a healthy body weight


Changing your lifestyle habits is key to preventing long-term oxidative stress (and damage). In addition to quitting unhealthy and harmful practices, you should also treat chronic infections – as they’re also known to be a significant cause of oxidative stress. Also, consider adopting other healthy habits, like heading out for a walk a few times a week; these habits could help lower your stress levels and, in turn, reduce oxidative stress in the body. 

Healthy Diet 

Antioxidants play a crucial role in the human body. More specifically, antioxidants protect your body from free radicals, which contribute to and exacerbate oxidative stress. In light of that, antioxidants may assist with cell protection. Antioxidants can also play a crucial role in preventing and treating heart disease and many other lifestyle disorders. Hundreds of different compounds are thought to contain antioxidants. Each plays a distinct role and can interact with others to promote the body’s optimal functioning.

Ensuring that you’re consuming enough antioxidants through your diet is one way to avoid oxidative stress. You could easily do so by eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. 

Antioxidant-rich foods include:

  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Dark chocolate
  • Artichokes
  • Red cabbage
  • Purple or red grapes
  • Spinach
  • Beetroot
  • Orange vegetables


Antioxidants found naturally in foods include vitamins C, E, flavonoids, and carotenoids. It’s worth noting that plant-based foods are particularly rich in phytonutrients, often also antioxidants (e.g., flavonoids, flavones, catechins, polyphenols, and phytoestrogens). Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and spices are also good sources of natural antioxidants. Other antioxidant-rich food sources also include cocoa, tea, and coffee. 

Find a list of some of the most important dietary antioxidants, along with their respective functions, below: 

  • Vitamin C: A powerful antioxidant. This water-soluble antioxidant is a necessary component in the diet. 
  • Vitamin E: A powerful antioxidant. This fat-soluble antioxidant plays an essential role in preventing oxidative damage to cell membranes. 
  • Flavonoids: A class of plant antioxidants. They’re known to provide a wide range of health benefits. 


Each antioxidant serves a different function in the body. That means they’re not interchangeable with others. It’s thus crucial for you to eat a wide range of foods (i.e., a diverse diet). The more antioxidants you consume, the better your body can ward off oxidative stress and damage. 

Thankfully, you can eat more antioxidants by making minor tweaks to your diet. For instance: try to consume various different-colored vegetables (they tend to be rich in antioxidants). You can also snack on berries, fruits high in antioxidants.

Activity Suggestion

Exercise increases oxidative stress in the short term. That said, you shouldn’t avoid physical activity for this reason. Research shows that regular strength training lowers oxidative stress markers and increases antioxidant stores in the body. It’s not just resistance training that’s beneficial for health, either. Walking can also help promote your body’s antioxidant levels – in turn, promoting cardiovascular health. You could also reduce oxidative stress by avoiding exposure to direct sunlight when you’re exercising. 

exercise for oxidative stress

Another type of physical activity to consider is Tai Chi; recent studies demonstrate that it can reduce oxidative stress. According to research, Tai Chi practitioners exhibit lower levels of oxidative stress and higher amounts of protective antioxidants than individuals who walk. Alternatives to Tai Chi include yoga and meditation – these are both mind-body disciplines highly similar to Tai Chi and are thus thought to produce similar health-promoting outcomes to the latter. 


The environment is one of the most significant contributors to oxidative stress. To illustrate, air and water pollution can trigger the formation of free radicals in the body, which ultimately leads to oxidative damage. People working in the heavy chemical and cleaning industries are also known to exhibit high oxidative stress levels. Studies have also shown certain bacterial infections capable of causing oxidative stress. 


Urinary tract infection (UTI) is one of the most common bacterial infectious illnesses that can produce oxidative stress – and raise lipid peroxidation levels, resulting in antioxidant enzyme insufficiency

Vivoo Oxidative Stress Parameter

Monitoring your urinary MDA levels can potentially help with the early detection of many diseases. This, in turn, allows you to take the necessary measures needed to prevent the worsening of these conditions. There are many benefits to using Vivoo as your primary way of measuring your oxidative stress levels. First, it’s a low-cost and straightforward process; it doesn’t require expensive equipment. Second, thanks to the Vivoo app, you can check on your oxidative stress levels anywhere, anytime (even at home)  – and receive personalized lifestyle and nutritional advice designed to help you achieve optimal health and wellness. 

Listen to your body’s voice today

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