Oxidants and Anti-Oxidants

Health is a balancing act between:

Oxidants (e.g. Reactive Oxygen Species  ROS) and Anti-Oxidants.

Where do Body’s ROS COME From?

  • Cellular Metabolism
  • Irradiation
  • Smoke, smoking
  • Caffeine
  • Radiation
  • TV screens
  • Smoke, smoking
  • Bio-oxidative Therapies (e.g. ozone therapy)
  • Drugs, vaccinations
  • Immune System Cells
  • Excessive metals
  • Food Additives
  • Cell phones
  • Too much oxygen
  • Deep-fried foods
  • Food Additives
  • Herbicides, pesticides
  • Psychological stress
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Damaged fats
  • Meat
  • Non-fresh food
  • Micro-waved food
  • High voltage cables
  • Wearing synthetics
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Physical Trauma
  1. ROS are produced in the body in day-to-day life
  2. ROS can be directly introduced into the body

(1)  ROS are produced in the body in day-to-day life by: 

  • Metabolism (synthesis of energy) / Respiration.
  • ROS Produced by Red Blood Cells
  • ROS Produced by WHITE Blood Cells – When body reacts to an adverse factor, e.g. A wound, fever, nervous imbalance (stress), microbial infection or toxin.
  • Emotional Stress – creates free radicals – Possibly today’s main oxidation-causing stressor.
  • Infectious Microbes – such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa initiate an inflammatory process that leads to increased ROS production by phagocytes – E.g. infectious bacteria Chlamydia pneumoniae  and the Herpes simplex virus have been proposed as initial inflammatory infectious agents in atherosclerosis.
  • Physical Trauma
  • Environmental Toxins – induce inflammatory response leading to damaging ROS and E.g. cigarette smoking by-products, exhaust fumes, household chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides/herbicides, certain drugs, radiation
  • ROS is produced by hyperglycemia
  • ROS is produced by other body processes e.g. as necessary intermediates in a variety of enzymatic reactions; involved in intercellular / intracellular signalling; it is increased by exedrcise and some health problems such as diabetes.

(2)  ROS can be directly introduced into the body:

  • ROS in oxidized (i.e. damaged) lipids (e.g. Trans Fats)   
  • Oxidized Cholesterol from fried, cooked, cured, aged or processed foods – mainly meats, eggs and dairy.
  • Trans Fats
  • Certain “Healing Therapies” (e.g. ozone therapy, hydrogen peroxide therapy and PDT are deliberately introduced in controlled amounts of ROS into the body)

Controlling the Damage

It’s vital that you remove oxidative stress to prevent cellular damage that initiates many diseases e.g. diabetes, Alzheimer Disease, atherosclerosis / heart disease.

Anti-oxidants are needed to balance the oxidants produced by and present in the body from normal biological activities that damage the body’s ROS anti-oxidant control systems.

Antioxidants are compounds which inhibit oxidation in the body or in foods.  Oxidation is a chemical process which involves the transfer of electrons or hydrogen producing harmful free radicals in the body.

These destructive substances can cause cell damage or death in the body through altering DNA, which can in turn lead to development of diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, due to cellular mutations.

External factors such as cigarette smoke, air pollution and excessive alcohol consumption can all lead to production of free radicals and are therefore harmful to the body.  Antioxidants help to stop the damage done by free radicals and therefore may be effective in reducing risk of disease.

Oxidation is also the process that makes food go bad after a certain time and antioxidants are often used in food manufacturing to slow down this process, giving food a longer shelf life.

Nutritional Sources of Anti-oxidants

The best antioxidant sources are fruits and vegetables, as well as products derived from plants. Some good choices include blueberries, raspberries, apples, broccoli, cabbage, spinach, eggplant, and legumes like red kidney beans or black beans. They’re also found in green tea, black tea, and dark chocolate. Usually, the presence of colour indicates there is a specific antioxidant in that food.

The keyword here is variety. Include many fruits and vegetables with different colours as well as legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains in your diet. An array of colour will give you the widest range of beneficial antioxidants.

This is why DBM Physicians / Practitioners recommend you “Eat From The Rainbow”

  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Beets
  • Black beans
  • Black tea
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brown rice
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cherries
  • Chia seeds
  • Coffee
  • Cranberry
  • Egg plant
  • Granny smith apples
  • Kale
  • Mushrooms
  • Oats
  • Onions
  • Oranges
  • Pecans
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Raspberry
  • Red apples
  • Red bell peppers
  • Red kidney beans
  • Ripe bananas
  • Russet potatoes
  • Spinach
  • Strawberries
  • Turmeric

A word of caution on supplements

Due to their potential to reduce oxidative damage, it was thought that high intakes of antioxidants through supplementation may reduce risk of disease and may even be beneficial for treatment.  However, further research has concluded that there is no benefit to very high intake of antioxidants in terms of disease prevention and there is even some suggestion that a very high intake may increase the risk of some cancers.


  1. Williams et al.  Flavonoids:  antioxidants or signalling molecules?  Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 2004.
  2. Arts et al.  Polyphenols and disease risk in epidemiologic studies.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2005.
  3. Boffetta et al. Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk in the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).  J Natl Cancer Inst. 2010.