As the athletic world trying to get the best advantage to increase their personal best and win medals, world records the general population is trying to engage High intensity exercises or over exercising due to peer pressure or social media hype to get results faster.

Either way both segments are looking to improve their Performance either in sports or health/aesthetics

Increment of performance done by periodizing your training program which includes gradual progression and regression for exercise type, intensity, rest, nutrition and recovery if anyone does not adhere to this it will hinder their performance, increase the chances of injury physiological and /or psychological by having high oxidative stress only way to combat oxidative stress is to step in to the battle field with Antioxidants.

What is oxidative stress?

Can be defined as imbalance between the systemic Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are chemically reactive chemicals ( atoms, molecules, molecular fragments, ions) containing oxygen.ROS are  formed as a natural byproduct of the normal metabolism of O2 and having important roles in  keeping your body natural and functioning smooth . However, during times of environmental stress (e.g. Sun or heat exposure) or physical stress (Non planned extreme exercises )  . ROS levels can increase causing significant damage to cell structures. ROS are also generated by  sources such as ionizing radiation (electromagnetic waves, X-ray. Gamma)

Disturbances in the normal reduction of oxidative stress (Redox)  state of cells can cause toxic effects through the production , O2 containing compound and FREE RADICALS(reactive chemical species, that can cause oxidation injury to the living beings by attacking the macromolecules like lipids, carbohydrates, proteins and nucleic acids (DNA).

Most current research indicates that strenuous exercise increases production of harmful substances such as free radicals, which can damage muscle tissue and result in inflammation and muscle soreness. Exercising in cities or smoggy areas also increases exposure to free radicals Because free radicals cause diseases (such as cancer, atherosclerosis, aging, muscle soreness, inflammation, etc)

There is a fine line  between free radicals (oxidants) and antioxidants in the biological systems. Both are essential for converting food into energy. Moderate exercise is a healthy practice; exercise increases oxygen consumption, and exhaustive exercise can generate free radicals.

When you play around with the high & moderate intensity proper planning of training and nutrition is a must. When you stop exercise, normal blood flow resumes and tissues become re-oxygenated. This re-oxygenation of oxygen-deprived tissues still generates more free radicals

Summing it up effects of environment, physical strain , hormonal stress , psychological stress  , radiation, electromagnetic radiation on modern living have a negative effect on your body which will reflect directly with health, fitness and sports performance in-order to reverse or minimize the effect of Oxidative stress lets discuss how we can scavenge free radicals, the best way is through Antioxidants


What are Antioxidants:

These protect the cells from damage caused by these unstable molecules. Antioxidant nutrients are naturally found in a varied diet of unprocessed grains, vegetables and fruit. These antioxidant nutrients include vitamins A, C, E and several of the B vitamins, the minerals selenium, copper and zinc, bioflavonoid and various antioxidant

Antioxidants pause the chain reactions of oxidation:

A ) Some antioxidants donate electron to stabilize and neutralize the dangerous free radicals

B) Other antioxidants work against the molecules that form free radicals, destroying them before they can begin rippling effect  that leads to oxidative damage

Antioxidants work to control the levels of free radicals before they do oxidative damage to the body. For example, certain enzymes in the body, such as superoxide dismutase, work with other chemicals to transform free radicals into harmless molecules, Dietary antioxidants supplement the action of enzymes that occur naturally in the body, and some studies show that a diet high in foods that are rich in antioxidants may decrease the risk of cancer and heart disease

However note that antioxidant supplements have no clear effect on the risk of preventing chronic diseases.  This suggests that these health benefits may come from other substances in fruits and vegetables or from a complex mix of substances.

While the vitamins act as donors and acceptors of ROS, minerals regulate activity of the enzymes. More specifically antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, coenzymes and herbs that help the body to fight and prevent damage from toxins and free radicals. In doing this, they protect cells, the genetic code and the immune system.

Trainers /coaches and fitness enthusiast should listen to Science which has demonstrated that athletes or persons engaging in prolonged or intense exercise need higher levels of antioxidants than sedentary people.

After intense exercise, free radical production is high, and a good antioxidant formula can improve athletic performance, assist in recovery from intense exercise and support optimal immune function.

  1. Antioxidants can prevent free radicals from forming
  2. Protect cells from free radical damage, bind to free radicals and inactivate or kill them and enhance the body’s defense system
  3. Antioxidants work to protect lipids from peroxidation by radicals; they are effective because they are willing to give up their electrons to free radicals.
  4. When a free radical gains the electron from an antioxidant it no longer needs to attack the cell and the chain reaction of oxidation is broken
  5. Recovery is also an important application of antioxidant use. Because antioxidants protect against cell and tissue damage, sufficient antioxidant levels in the body will lead to less oxidative damage to muscles. (will reduced muscle soreness and faster recovery after intense exercise )
  6. Given that high intensity exercise can increase free radical production, antioxidant supplements may offer benefit during prolonged aerobic activity
  7. Antioxidant supplementation is likely to provide beneficial effects against exercise induced oxidative tissue damage

Common Antioxidants and their benefits

  1. Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol):
  • fat soluble antioxidant in the body; primary defender against oxidation and lipid peroxidation ( Superoxdxide anion radical , singlet oxygen & PUFA radicals
  • Obtaining sufficient vitamin E from the average diet is difficult; supplements can make up the difference.
  • Foods containing high levels of vitamin E are vegetable
  1. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid):
  • Water soluble antioxidant that directly scavenges some free radicals and recycles vitamin E.
  • It may reduce pains and speed up muscle strength recovery after intense exercise
  • Supplementation with vitamin C can reduce the amount of muscle damage, which occurs during training, less muscle damage, athletes may in turn, be able to train more intensely and achieve greater levels of performance
  • Foods containing high levels of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Scavenge (Superoxide anion Radicals, Hydroxyl Radicals )
  1. a)Beta-carotene:
  • Water soluble precursor to vitamin A, but is an antioxidant in itself.
  • Foods containing high levels of carotene are fruit, vegetables and eggs
  • b)Selenium:
  • Essential trace element in the diet. It functions through selenoproteins, several of which have antioxidant functions,
  • includes enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase, a potent free radical scavenger.
  • Scavenge ( PUFA radicals, Singlet oxygen)
  • c) Flavonoids:
  • act as antioxidants by directly scavenging free radicals,
  • Chelating reactive elements such as iron, or by inhibiting oxidative enzymes .
  • No daily requirement for flavanoids has been established, but a balanced diet containing fresh fruit, vegetables, tea and moderate wine /grape juice is suggested
  • Other Antioxidants

1.Superoxide dismutase:

An enzyme that, in concert with another enzyme catalase, can disarm and destroy free radicals, particularly O2


Minimizes the damage caused by free radicals, and is very important for the health of cells

Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone):

  • Is a “vitamin-like substance” whose role in the function of the electron transport chain (ETC) is well established.
  • CoQ10 also has purported antioxidant properties

Lactic acid:

  • The fermented products of lactic acid can be taken as an antioxidant nutritional supplement for the elders, infants, pregnant women and individuals with malnutrition.
  • More important, the inexpensive fermented products can be used as a good protein source in many developing countries where protein deficiencies remain a major health problem, especially for children
  • Vitamin D
  • Given the established role ofvitamin D in bone health and themore recently recognized role inimmunity,inflammation, and chronic disease prevention
  • Recent research has provided evidence to suggest that maintaining adequate vitamin D status may reduce stress fracture risk, total body inflammation, common infectious illness, and impaired muscle function.
  • However, research is needed to determine whether insufficient vitamin D status increases an athletes risk for injury
  • Whether vitamin D supplementation can affect athletic training and improve overall health and performance.

Take home message:

  1. Exercise is an essential part of healthy life or to enhance performance but antioxidant nutrition should also be included as a part of this healthy lifestyle
  2. Experimental evidence does not support the “common knowledge” that antioxidant treatment greatly improves exercise performance and recovery.
  3. Studies with antioxidant supplementations generally show no effect on muscle function during and after exercise.
  4. The most promising studies about antioxidants and exercise have centered on vitamin C and E. It has been reported that vitamin E and C reduces free radical production and oxidation related to exercise.
  5. Have a periodized plan which you combine high intensity, medium and low intensity based on your performance goals and cycle
  6. Always combine nutrition , sleep, recover strategies for optimal level which prevent burn out
  7. Consider the training environment without pollution
  8. Have a balance , natural meal plan with Macro & Micro nutrients with adequate supplement plan especially for performance athletes or anyone who works out ay higher intensities
  9. Always consult your Medical Doctor before you take any supplement or physical activity
  10. Hire a fitness/performance professional with proper credentials, experience and track record for the purpose stay within your scope of work


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