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Oxidative stress - causes, effects and prevention

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between harmful oxygen free radicals and protective antioxidant mechanisms in the body. In the following sections, you will learn more about the causes, effects, and prevention strategies associated with oxidative stress.

What is oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress is a natural process in the body that produces so-called“free radicals“. Free radicals are molecules that have an unpaired electron and are therefore highly reactive. They play an important role in various cellular processes and also in the defense against pathogens, but if they are produced in too high numbers, they can have harmful effects.

The body is normally able to neutralize free radicals through so-called antioxidants and thus limit cell damage. However, an imbalance between free radical production and antioxidant defense mechanisms can lead to oxidative stress.

Oxidativer Stress

Causes of oxidative stress:

  • Environmental factors:
    Exposure to pollution, tobacco smoke, radiation and harmful chemicals can increase the production of free radicals. Likewise, increased exposure to heavy metals or aluminum can lead to oxidative stress (⇒ see also Heavy metal exposure in the body).
  • Diet:
    An unbalanced diet high in processed foods and trans fats and low in fresh fruits and vegetables can promote oxidative stress.
  • Lifestyle:
    Factors such as chronic stress, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking and lack of exercise can increase oxidative stress.
  • Aging:
    As we age, the efficiency of antioxidant defense mechanisms in the body decreases, leading to an increased risk of oxidative stress.

Effects of oxidative stress on the body:

Oxidative stress can affect various organs and tissues in the body and can be associated with numerous health problems:

  • Cardiovascular disease:
    Oxidative stress can promote the formation of deposits in the arteries, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke. We test this as part of our diagnostics, e.g. during the preventive all-round check-up (⇒ more information on the check-up in our practice).
  • Inflammation:
    Free radicals can promote inflammation in the body, contributing to chronic diseases such as arthritis, among others.
  • Neurodegenerative diseases:
    Oxidative stress is also associated with diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as it can contribute to nerve cell damage.
  • Cancer:
    Free radicals can damage DNA, increasing the risk of cancer cells developing.
  • Skin aging:
    Oxidative stress plays a role in skin aging as it can affect collagen production and lead to the development of wrinkles.

Prevention and treatment of oxidative stress:

Fortunately, a lot can be done therapeutically to treat oxidative stress and reverse or mitigate the negative effects.

  • Healthy nutrition:
    Every health problem can be positively influenced with nutrition. A balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats (e.g., omega-3 fatty acids), and adequate antioxidants from nuts, berries, and green tea can help reduce oxidative stress.
  • Exercise:
    Regular physical activity supports the body’s defense mechanisms and can reduce oxidative stress.
  • Stress Management:
    Techniques such as meditation, yoga or relaxation exercises can help reduce stress and thus counteract oxidative stress.
  • Avoidance of risk factors:
    Smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and contact with harmful substances should be avoided.
  • Antioxidants:
    In case of increased oxidative stress, we give antioxidants in the form of supplements.
  • A search for the causes of oxidative stress:
    Laboratory diagnostics, clarification of heavy metal contamination, chelation therapy, etc.; please feel free to contact us, we will advise you individually.


In summary, prolonged oxidative stress is an important factor in the onset and development of various diseases. In our practice, we can measure your exposure exactly by means of specialized laboratory tests as well as on-site tests (FORT/FORD measurement), and then provide you with specific recommendations on how you can take optimizing steps.

As basic measures, you can actively help reduce oxidative stress and promote your health through healthy lifestyle and a balanced diet. This can be achieved by the administration of dietary supplements and other measures after appropriate diagnostics, e.g. a heavy metal detoxification in case of heavy metal contamination, possible pathogen therapy, etc. We will be happy to advise you on this in detail.

Stay healthy and take care of yourself!

Your practice team of Dr. med. univ. Stefan Rohrer

Preventive all-round check-up

We perform preventive all-around check-ups in our practice to optimize health. In addition to the assessment of the individual cardiovascular risk, we also determine your status of the most important vitamins and trace elements, the exposure to biochemical forms of stress, the heavy metal contamination in the body, perform HRV measurements, and much more.