We know things like saturated fats, excess sugar, pesticides and air pollution are bad for us, but what is actually happening inside our bodies when we consume or are exposed to these factors? We called on Pharmacist and Natural Wellness Expert Gina Ruffa to break down the cellular response, called oxidative stress, to some of the body's most physically taxing elements. So what is it, and how can diet, exercise and supplements like CBD help? Gina fills us in.Farmulated CBD: What does it mean to have oxidative stress in the body?
Gina: Oxidative stress is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals, also called reactive oxygenated species. When electrons travel in pairs, they’re stable. Free radicals create uneven numbers of electrons, so antioxidants donate electrons to create stability. Without that stability, oxidative stress is the result. Everyone is subject to oxidative stress.
What is the long-term impact of oxidative stress?
Long-term oxidative stress can damage our DNA, cells, tissues and lead to rapid aging. It also promotes chronic diseases and inflammation, which I sometimes call “inflamm-aging.” A good way to think about it is that when something is exposed to too many harsh elements and rusts, it oxidizes. Oxidative stress is like the body rusting out. Cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and even depression are the result of this long-term rusting.
What types of environmental stressors should people be wary of?
There’s environmental factors like air pollution, radiation exposure and pesticides, but it’s so critical to focus on, number one, your diet. Obesity puts you at a much higher risk of oxidative stress. Diets high in saturated fats, sugar and processed foods, as well as smoking and drinking alcohol do as well. Certain medications can even increase your risk.
How can people be proactive about decreasing their oxidative stress?
Eat a balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. Plant foods have by far the most antioxidants, and plant-based diets low in processed foods are very important. Add in daily exercise, maintaining a healthy body weight, minimizing stress, meditating and reducing exposure to pollution and harsh chemicals when you can.
Then, you have your supplements. You want to look for things with a high oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Turmeric is wonderful, as is green tea, cruciferous vegetables, dark chocolate, berries, which contain resveratrol, and of course, CBD. You want to consume these types of things on a daily basis to help your body reduce oxidative stress.
A 2019 NCBI-published study shows ingesting CBD is an effective method of reduction-oxidation, preventing the formation of superoxide radicals. What would you tell someone to help them understand the gravity of this research?
Superoxide dismutase, which breaks down harmful oxygen molecules, is an incredibly powerful antioxidant reaction. Anything that has the potential to reduce oxidative stress minimizes your risk of all the chronic diseases we previously discussed – cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and more.
Is there potential for increased antioxidant & CBD consumption to aid with COVID-19? One 2020 study we previously discussed on our blog showed CBD was effective at modulating inflammatory cytokine storms caused by the virus.
Both could potentially help indirectly by keeping the immune system healthy prior to contracting the virus. The most important thing to note from this pandemic is that we need to maintain optimal health so we are not predisposed to these viruses. Whether it’s COVID-19, SARS or influenza, we need to eat antioxidant-rich diets, exercise, minimize stress and get adequate amounts of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin.
The concept of not being “predisposed” to a virus by controllable factors is interesting. So many of us have felt helpless amid this pandemic, yet there are always things we can be doing to keep our immune systems healthy.
There are so many natural regimens, as you know with natural supplements like CBD. Preventing disease is about being proactive, not reactive.
One final question: I know exercise is one of the most essential components of good health, but what about intense exercise that causes a lot of oxidative stress?
I believe in the moderation principle. If you’re someone who runs marathons, that’s a lot of oxidative stress on your body. You’ll need to be especially proactive with balancing low-intensity exercise and eating an antioxidant-rich diet. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is great but needs to be combined with a variety of exercises. I’m a proponent of mixing it up and not taxing your body. Anything you do in excess can be bad, even dieting and exercise.
Learning to practice the moderation principle and listening to your body is key to achieving better overall health. I refer to exercise as Vitamin E, the best vitamin ever which helps just about every disease known to mankind. Movement truly is medicine.
So, in conclusion: Get your antioxidant-rich foods, your supplements like CBD, exercise, reduce stress and don’t overdo it. Oxidative stress impacts everyone, but you always have factors within your control to reduce it.
Thank you for another insightful conversation, Gina!
To learn more about Pharmacist and Natural Wellness Expert Gina Ruffa, you can visit her website at what-supp.org