Oxidation is when electrons are lost during a chemical reaction. This process creates free radicals, which are molecules that can be damaging to cells and tissues in the body when there are not enough antioxidants to balance them out. This causes Oxidative Stress (OS) in the body. The free radicals, also called reactive oxygen species (ROS), cause intracellular damage to lipids, proteins and DNA. This type of stress has been linked to joint conditions such as arthritis and joint pain.
OS can damage cartilage, and weaken tendons and ligaments, leading to increased pain and discomfort. Therefore, it’s important to reduce it to maintain healthy joints and reduce symptoms associated with arthritis and other joint disorders.
Oxidation is often compared to rusting because it affects molecules and cells in a similar way. When a metal rusts, the oxidation process causes electrons to transfer from the atom, making it unstable and prone to further damage. Similarly, when oxidation occurs within our bodies, electrons are also transferred away from molecules, which can create an imbalance that leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress (OS) is essentially an overload of free radicals which can have many damaging effects on our cells and tissues – including joint tissue in those suffering from arthritis or other joint conditions.
In diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis, OS damage leads to joint inflammation. There are many possible contributors to OS such as pollution, diet and gut microbiome imbalances, and metabolism issues that can lead to the overproduction of these ROS.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce OS and its effects on your body and your joints. Here are 10 tips:
1. Exercise regularly: Exercise allows your body to produce more antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress and protect cells from damage. Exercise is important even if you have joint conditions, although your level and type of exercise should be discussed with your healthcare provider to avoid injury and maximize healing.
2. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: Both smoking and drinking alcohol increase the production of free radicals in the body, which can cause oxidative stress.
3. Eat a nutrient-rich diet: Eating a healthy diet that is rich in vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, and antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress by providing your body with the nutrients it needs to function properly.
4. Increase your intake of antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables: Fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants which can help combat oxidation caused by free radicals in the body. Polyphenols are antioxidants found in specific foods such as dark chocolate and apples. Plant polyphenols have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can inhibit ROS production and inflammation in joints to reduce OS in osteoarthritis (OA).1
5. Manage stress levels: Stress can increase free radicals and oxidative damage to the body, so learning how to manage your stress is important for reducing oxidative stress.
6. Get plenty of restful sleep: Sleep allows your body to repair itself and restore balance, which can help reduce oxidative damage caused by stress or other sources.
7. Drink Hydrogen water: Hydrogen water is the chemical structure of water, H2O containing dissolved hydrogen gas. Hydrogen water can help to reduce inflammation and increase energy levels. Hydrogen water has been shown to reduce symptoms of arthritis in patients. In one study, this was found to reduce oxidative stress and symptoms in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).2 An animal study of osteoarthritis showed that hydrogen water provided protection from cartilage damage.3 The anti-inflammatory properties of molecular hydrogen also help with other inflammatory disorders such as allergies and asthma. You can purchase hydrogen water, hydrogen water tablets, or a system for your home to produce it.
8. Take antioxidant supplements: High-quality antioxidant supplements such as vitamin C, CoQ10, resveratrol and curcumin may help reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals in the body.
9. Reduce exposure to environmental toxins: Exposure to chemicals and other environmental toxins can increase oxidative stress in the body, so reducing your exposure is essential for maintaining health.
10. Use natural remedies: Natural herbs and supplements such as turmeric, ginger, garlic, ginkgo biloba and green tea can help reduce inflammation and oxidative damage in the body.
Overall, OS can lead to inflammation and various chronic illnesses such as chronic joint disease if it is not managed properly. Working with a functional healthcare practitioner and getting specific lab testing can help identify key triggers causing your OS so that they can be addressed with natural approaches. Using the above 10 tips when you have chronic arthritis and other autoimmune conditions can be helpful ways to reduce the effects of oxidative stress and promote good health.
1. Ansari MY, Ahmad N, Haqqi TM. Oxidative stress and inflammation in osteoarthritis pathogenesis: Role of polyphenols. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2020;129:110452. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2020.110452
2. Yessica Zamudio-Cuevas, Karina Martínez-Flores, Gabriela Angélica Martínez-Nava, Denise Clavijo-Cornejo, Javier Fernández-Torres, Roberto Sánchez-Sánchez. Rheumatoid arthritis and oxidative stress, a review of a decade. Cell Mol Biol. 2022;68(6):174-184. doi:10.14715/cmb/2022.68.6.28
3. Cheng S, Peng L, Xu B, Chen W, Chen Y, Gu Y. Protective Effects of Hydrogen-Rich Water Against Cartilage Damage in a Rat Model of Osteoarthritis by Inhibiting Oxidative Stress, Matrix Catabolism, and Apoptosis. Medical Science Monitor. 2020;26. doi:10.12659/MSM.920211
I am a Master’s prepared RN, National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coach, Board-Certified Functional Wellness Coach, and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner. I help people fix their chronic inflammation & pain with in-home lab testing, client assessments, personalized natural healing protocols, and online coaching to help them move from pain to peace so that they feel better, move better, and live better.