Oxidation is a normal and necessary process that takes place in your body. Oxidative stress, on the other hand, occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidant activity. When functioning properly, free radicals can help fight off pathogens. Pathogens lead to infections.
When there are more free radicals present than can be kept in balance by antioxidants, the free radicals can start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. Proteins, lipids, and DNA make up a large part of your body, so that damage can lead to a vast number of diseases over time. These include:
- atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the blood vessels
- inflammatory conditions
- high blood pressure, which is also known as hypertension
- heart disease
- neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
Oxidative stress also contributes to aging.