Top 5 cell stressors and how to avoid them

You’re probably no stranger to feeling stressed every now and then, but what about the stress that you can’t see? We’re talking about the kind of stress that directly impacts your cells.

Woman sprinting outside

Your body is almost entirely made up of cells, more specifically, around 37 trillion of them. Your cells are the building blocks of life, and they work together to orchestrate the millions of biochemical reactions that take place within your body. But every day, your cells are under stress.

Why are my cells stressed?

In order to understand why your cells are under stress, let's have a quick biology refresher for those who admit to zoning out in high school science. Inside almost each and every one of your hard-working cells are tiny organelles called mitochondria. Commonly known as the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell, your mitochondria are responsible for producing an incredible 90% of the body’s energy. During the process of generating such an enormous amount of energy for you to function, your mitochondria create free radicals as a by-product. Also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS), free radicals are highly reactive molecules, and while they can have some benefits - if too many accumulate within the body it can cause damage to your cells. Mitochondria work hard to produce and accumulate antioxidants to defend itself against this free radical damage – but the problem is that as we age, our antioxidant levels naturally decline. On top of this, we're exposed to even more free radicals daily through stressors like UV rays, pollution, poor diet, smoking and psychological stress to name a few. Increased free radical exposure from any source = increased cell stress.

How can MitoQ help?

As we know, our cells need all the support they can get, and our daily stressors don’t make it easy for them to function at their best. MitoQ is an advanced cell health technology that works effectively to help balance free radicals and reduce cell stress – to help you have the energy to overcome whatever life throws at you.

By now you can see that your cells help your entire body function, and that cell stress caused by free radicals can get in the way of you living your best life. Let’s look at the top 5 cell stressors so you can take inventory of the free radicals you might be exposed to each day, and how to mitigate them.

5. Smoking

It’s no surprise that this toxic habit has been shown to cause stress and harm to cells. Tobacco itself contains a mixture of chemicals and ROS, which increases oxidative stress and causes a host of health concerns throughout the body as a whole.

Tip: just don’t do it.

4. High intensity exercise

There’s no denying that high intensity exercise comes with a laundry list of health benefits, but it’s all about context. The cortisol inducing effects of high intensity exercise is what makes this form of movement so effective, but it’s also what creates an inflammatory cascade and therefore more stress for your cells. Don’t worry, this doesn't mean you need to say good-bye to your daily HIIT workout. But if you’re exposed to a lot of stress in other areas of your life and you’re not properly supporting recovery, these intensive workouts could be doing more harm than good.

Tip: make sure you’re balancing your training sessions with low intensity forms of movement and plenty of rest days to help manage oxidative stress. You could also think about increasing your antioxidant intake to mitigate the production of free radicals from high intensity exercise.

3. Omega-6 fatty acids

You’ve probably heard about omega-3's and how incredible they are for overall health, but how much do you know about omega-6's? These polyunsaturated fatty acids are referred to as ‘essential’, meaning that we must obtain them from the diet – but they both have vastly different effects on the body. Typically, omega-3's are anti-inflammatory while omega-6's tend to increase the production of free radicals when in excess. In order to keep cellular stress at bay, your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 intake needs to be around 1:1 to 2:1. Today, the typical American is consuming 16x the amount of omega-6's to omega-3's – largely thanks to processed vegetable oils and fast food.

Tip: toss your processed vegetable oils (think canola, sunflower, corn and soybean oil) and opt for extra virgin olive oil instead. Reduce your intake of fast foods and increase your consumption of omega-3 rich foods like wild caught salmon, walnuts and cod liver oil if you’re game.

2. Psychological stress

The fight-or-flight response is no joke. If you’re repeatedly exposed to events or emotions that activate your stress response, your whole body is impacted – including your cells. This fight-or-flight response is triggered any time you experience something that you perceive to be stressful, from a work deadline to a flat tire. The stress response was wired to be a short-term, adaptive response, but the constant stressors we’re exposed to today mean that people are activated often, day in and day out.

In these situations, your body basically shuts down the body systems that aren’t required for your immediate survival. Numerous studies have indicated the damaging physiological effects that ongoing psychological stress has on cells. From ramping up the production of stress hormones to increasing chemical messengers that upregulate inflammatory pathways, the invisible load that your cells carry when you experience ongoing psychological stress is immense.

Tip: meditation has been shown in studies to reduce the stress hormone cortisol, and thus reduce the effects of the inflammatory response that’s triggered by psychological stress.

1. Nutrient deficiencies

It’s widely known that meeting (or exceeding) the nutritional guidelines is what we should all be aiming for each day, but people often forget about the importance of eating right for your cells. There are millions of biochemical reactions that occur within your body every day that help you function at baseline, and the body requires specific nutrients to trigger these tiny reactions. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can cause cell stress. If you’re not fueling your body with the nutrients it needs at a cellular level, you’ll notice the impact it has on your performance in your everyday life.

Tip: focus on eating whole, real foods and plenty of fresh produce. Avoid eating processed foods that contain minimal nutrients and fill any gaps with good quality supplements that help you meet your daily nutritional needs.

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