Oxidative stress

General Healthcare

  10 Minutes

What is Oxidative stress?

To really understand the rather abstract concept of ‘oxidative stress’ we first need to have an understanding of its driving force known as ‘the free radical’.

Free radicals are unstable, harmful substances which can have damaging effects on the body. We produce these ourselves as part of daily living and we are exposed to them in our environment. Even when living the most healthy lifestyle, our body still produces free radicals internally, and if not sufficiently dealt with they can cause harm, this is worsened by exposure to further free radicals from the outside word such as:

  • Environmental toxins e.g. air pollution, chemicals, pesticides
  • Heavy metals e.g. cadmium, mercury, lead, iron
  • Lifestyle choices e.g. smoking, vaping
  • Medicines e.g. cyclosporine, gentamycin etc.
  • Ionising radiation
  • UV light
  • Diet e.g. SUGAR, reheated vegetable oils, overcooked food

Formation of free radicals

Cast your mind back to physics class and the structure of an atom. A free radical is an atom that has an unpaired electron orbiting around its nucleus. This unpaired electron has a negative charge, and too much negativity causes destruction. This unpaired electron makes the free radical unstable. When you get paired electrons, the substance becomes stable and transforms from a highly chaotic, reactive, and oxidising state to a neutral state.

The destructive effect of free radicals is known as ‘oxidation’. When something oxidises it breaks down or decays chemically. Good examples of this are when the flesh of apple turns brown when exposed to air or when your car begins to rust!


Oxidation occurs in our body as well and is linked to many degenerative and inflammatory diseases and is the driving force in the ageing process.

Because our body is cleverly designed though, we do have a built in defence mechanism against free radicals, these super-protective substances are known as antioxidants! When our defence against free radicals is overwhelmed, oxidative stress results. This is when the load of free radicals on our body exceeds our natural antioxidant defences leaving us vulnerable to degeneration, inflammation and chronic illness.

What does oxidative stress look like in the body?

Oxidative stress damages cells, cellular membranes, proteins, and specifically a type of protein called lipoproteins. These are in all the lipid layers and in all our membranes in every single one of our cells – in every 100 trillion of our cells. It also damages our DNA. Our genetic structure gets damaged by oxidative stress, this is what we see with ageing.

What is oxidative stress?

When we understand these processes namely tissue damage, degeneration, inflammation, and accelerated ageing, we can extrapolate the many diverse types of conditions when these things happen. No part of the body is spared. This is the nature of oxidative stress.

A few of the major conditions that we know which are driven by oxidative stress include:

Cardiovascular disease – Research into antioxidants confirms that one of its key benefits is its cardiovascular protective properties. The bottom-line is that free radicals cause damage to the inner lining of blood vessel walls referred to as your endothelium. When this becomes inflamed, it causes the hardening of arteries, veins and capillaries, plaque formation and cholesterol deposition.

It’s interesting to note that cholesterol only becomes a problem after the endothelium is damaged, even once it is oxidised. It can only block the vessels when the endothelium is damaged. This is what free radicals do. They damage the endothelium and lead to cardiovascular disease. This leads to an inflammatory response in the lining of the blood vessel wall.

The body tries to repair the damage by bringing in and depositing cholesterol in that area. This results in high cholesterol levels. The knock-on effect is cardiovascular disease or perhaps coronary arterial disease because the endothelium now contains plaque.

They become hardened and partially blocked. If there was no oxidative stress, the endothelium would not have been damaged, and this would not have happened.

Neurological disease – The brain takes a beating from free radicals and oxidative stress. Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, multiple sclerosis, depression and memory loss are all directly linked to an over production of free radicals and oxidative stress.

All dementia is tied up with oxidative stress. Consider someone that’s been diagnosed with dementia. Oxidative stress leads to the degeneration of the brain and its neurones, causing it to shrink. We also know that beta amyloid, the toxic substance in the brain that leads to Alzheimer’s disease, is produced by free radicals. It’s this substance that is cleaned from the brain during sleep.

Brain degeneration is a huge area when we consider oxidative stress in its entirety, especially when it comes to ageing or ageing prematurely… and it makes logical sense when, think about it, cognitive function declines with age.

Respiratory disease – This includes numerous inflammatory and degenerative conditions, amongst these are asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These are both linked to lung inflammation and oxidative stress.

Arthritis – Both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis are oxidative stress driven in different ways. We know from research that oxidative stress can both initiate and cause the progression of arthritis.

Kidney disease – In chronic kidney disease, oxidative stress causes damage in the tubules and in the blood vessels of your kidneys. It’s the free radicals and those unpaired electrons that cause the damage and destruction. The body’s response is to repair it leaving scar tissue and fibrosis. This ultimately compromises kidney function. Kidney disease and oxidative stress go hand-in-glove, this is why kidney function declines with age, and the reason is degeneration.

Diabetes – The root cause for diabetes is a blood sugar imbalance but it has many other complications. These include problems with the eyes, the kidneys, the nerves, micro-circulation, and the cardiovascular system. It is oxidative stress that causes the damage. The vessels that are most vulnerable are the capillaries, the tiny, smaller, finer ones are the ones that get damaged the most. Especially in the retinas of the eyes, the glomeruli of the kidneys and in the nerve endings. In diabetes, this is where oxidative stress is particularly high. It’s even more rampant in uncontrolled diabetes.

Metabolic disorders – This is commonly addressed as metabolic syndrome which is a combination of obesity, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, fatty liver, and an abnormal lipid profile. Fact. All these factors combined are underpinned by inflammation and oxidative stress.


Antioxidants are protective substances which restore balance and prevent free radicals from harming the body, the presence of antioxidants reduce overall oxidative stress levels. When there is balance between free radical load and antioxidants, oxidative stress is limited and thus we are protected from the detrimental effects thereof.

Although our body produces its own internal antioxidants, these are often insufficient and therefore sourcing more from our diet is essential. Whole foods, fresh fruit, vegetables, and raw nuts and seeds are rich in antioxidants. Certain vitamins and minerals also have antioxidant effects and include vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as the minerals selenium and zinc.

Polyphenols and proanthocyanidins

Polyphenols are a group of antioxidants that are naturally found in many plants, typically in fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. These are protective substances which plants produce to protect themselves from environmental stressors, when we consume these we gain these protective benefits too! One of the most important polyphenols are compounds known as oligomeric proanthocyanidins.

Oligomeric proanthocyanidins are powerful antioxidants which typically carry a red, purple or blue pigment, one of the richest source of proanthocyanidins in nature is the grape seed.



Food source Total proanthocyanidin (mg/100g food)
Blueberries 179
Strawberries 145
Plums 256
Red kidney beans 563
Hazelnuts 500
Red wine 313
Grape seed (dry) 3532



Oxiprovin is a health supplement that contains grape seed extract. It is a source of antioxidants called oligomeric proanthocyanidins for the maintenance and preservation of good health and venous health. Each capsule has 140mg of South African grape seed extract.

Oxiprovin as a ‘balanced antioxidant’

Most antioxidants work simply by donating one of their electrons to an unstable free radical, this stabilises and neutralises the harmful free radical restoring it to balance. As human beings we can relate to this, for example, when we volunteering our time to support a charity or good cause, we give of ourselves to help others in distress. Despite good intention, overcommitting ourselves and our time however can have a negative impact on our own wellbeing. Similarly, antioxidants which work simply by giving up their electrons can themselves become unstable ‘pro-oxidants’ which can cause harm.

Oxiprovin is known as a balanced antioxidant. This is because oligomeric proanthocyanidins in the grape seed extract, unlike many other antioxidants, achieves its effect through multiple pathways producing a balanced, sustainable protective action against oxidative stress. It does this by:

  1. Reducing the production of free radicals
  2. Lowering the levels of oxidative stress
  3. Directly neutralising and quenching free radicals, rendering them harmless
  4. Reducing the negative effects and damage caused by oxidative stress
  5. Promoting the repair of DNA and protecting cell membranes
  6. Upregulating the production of endogenous antioxidants

By protecting the body against oxidative stress, Oxiprovin directly protects cells, organs, and tissues from oxidative stress, reducing inflammation and restoring balance systemically – throughout the body!

Note that many other antioxidants work simply by neutralising free radicals (quenching). This can become problematic as once they have quenched and stabilised a free radical, they themselves become unstable and potentially harmful substances called pro-oxidants.

Each capsule contains:
Vitis vinifera (L.) (Grape seed extract) 140 mg.
(Source of oligomeric proanthocyanidins).
Sugar free.

Dosage and directions for use