Oxidative stress describes an imbalance in the body between free radicals (unstable molecules that can damage cells) and antioxidants.
The most common courses are:
• Low antioxidant intake
• High glycaemic load
• Inflammatory oils
• Toxic exposure
• Lack of movement
So, how are we exposed to oxidative stressors?
Low intake of dietary antioxidants
This has been found to be associated with reduced semen quality, and diets containing more antioxidants have been associated with greater pregnancy success in women. The lifestyle habits of many men and women (e.g., lack of physical activity, overeating and high-sugar and high-fat diets) promote oxidative stress.
A fertility diet with antioxidants may be the answer. Great whole-food sources of antioxidants include: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, pomegranate, cranberries, green tea, dark chocolate (70% cocoa), cooked vegetables, and spices such as cumin, turmeric, ginger, and oregano.
Lower dietary content of antioxidants has been found to be associated with reduced semen quality, and diets containing more antioxidants have been associated with greater pregnancy success in women.
High glycaemic load
This is associated with increased levels of oxidative stress and systemic inflammation. Glycaemic load basically tells us how much that food will raise someone’s blood sugar. Having elevated blood sugar all the time is a recipe for lots of oxidative stress.
This not only generates oxidative stress, it also depletes are antioxidants quickly, making us less able to combat oxidative stress. Another effect of oxidative stress on reproductive functions is by reducing blood flow to tissues. Blood flow to the reproductive organs is determined by the molecule nitric oxide, and nitric oxide production and stability are remarkably sensitive to reactive oxygen species (ROS) and require extensive antioxidant protection. Nitrite oxide thus plays a key role in erectile and vascular function. The oxidative Stress of smoking reduces nitric oxide and subsequently blood flow to the reproductive organs. Smoking by both the male and female partners significantly reduces IVF outcome.
Inflammatory Oils (canola, soybean, peanut)
These oils are made of delicate omega-6 fatty acids and are very susceptible to damage by heat and light. By the time they reach you, they have likely been highly oxidized and will likely cause an inflammatory cascade after consumption (they can also damage our cell membranes, in terms of hormonal health)
This includes heavy metals, pesticides, and plastics can all generate increased oxidative stress.
Little movement can increase oxidative stressors – regular, moderate physical activity is the way forward.