Too much oxygen as a result of over-breathing leads to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is like a rusting of your arteries and veins. It happens because the oxygen is unable to release itself from your red blood cells. It leads to inflammation, plaque, and corroding. If you exercise too much or do too much physically strenuous work, that can also cause oxidative stress. In fact, just being generally stressed out can cause oxidative stress because our breathing is erratic and inefficient.
We’re not trained or taught how to breathe when we’re young. Over the years we experience stress, challenges, chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and so on, so we don’t breathe consciously. Instead, we tend to breathe under the control of the reptilian brain. That means our breathing can become erratic, fast, slow, or it can just pause without conscious control. That leads to incoherent heart rhythms, which leads to incoherent functions in the body.
When you expose metal to air for long periods of time, the oxygen in the atmosphere reacts with the metal through a process called oxidation that causes it to rust. The same rusting occurs in the body that can lead to inflammation and cell damage. This is why it is beneficial to consciously control the amount of oxygen that goes into the body.
How Does It Work?
Too much oxygen and inefficient oxygen use leads to oxidative stress, which leads to free radicals attacking your system. This leads to protein and DNA injury, tissue damage, inflammation, and cell death. Autoimmune conditions, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer can occur as a result of oxidative stress (Bashir et al., 1993; Uttara et al., 2009; Reuter et al., 2010; Asmat et al., 2016).
By a process known as the Bohr effect, an increase in carbon dioxide results in a decrease of blood pH (more acidic), which makes the haemoglobin proteins release their oxygen. When the haemoglobin releases oxygen, it goes to the tissue cells of your body, to the mitochondria, to create ATP energy. You need a certain concentration of carbon dioxide in your body for this to happen.
When you are stressed or anxious, you over-breathe (hyperventilate). This causes you to have too little carbon dioxide in your body, so the haemoglobin is not prompted to release oxygen sufficiently. That means there is not enough oxygen going to our cells where it is needed to create ATP energy – which keeps us alive and functioning!
So disease can also be the result of over breathing or hyperventilation that happens when you are stressed or anxious which causes you to have too little carbon dioxide and too much oxygen bound to haemoglobin and not enough going into the cells where it is needed to create energy.
What Causes Oxidative Stress?
Essentially, oxidative stress is caused by excess oxygen molecules that the body cannot process properly. The surplus can be caused by various factors, including over-breathing, which leads to an excessive oxygen intake. This prevents oxygen from being efficiently released from red blood cells, causing it to accumulate and “rust” our internal systems.
High-intensity exercise and physically strenuous tasks can increase oxygen demand, leading to oxidative stress if the body cannot manage the excess efficiently. Similarly, stress triggers erratic breathing patterns, further disrupting the balance between oxygen intake and carbon dioxide expulsion.
We are not trained to breathe optimally when young. Over the years, we experience stress, challenges, chronic activation of the sympathetic nervous system, and so on, so we may not be breathing consciously. Instead, we tend to breathe under the control of the reptilian brain. That means our breathing can become erratic, fast, or slow, or it can just pause without conscious control. That leads to incoherent heart rhythms, ultimately leading to incoherent bodily functions.
When you expose metal to air for long periods of time, the oxygen in the atmosphere reacts with the metal through a process called oxidation that causes it to rust. The same kind of rusting occurs in the body, leading to inflammation and cell damage. This is why it is beneficial to consciously control the amount of oxygen that goes into the body.
How Does Oxidative Stress Affect The Body?
Excessive oxygen intake and its inefficient utilization can lead to oxidative stress, a condition marked by the onset of free radicals on the body’s proteins, DNA, and tissues. This results in significant damage, including inflammation, tissue degradation, and cell death, setting the stage for serious health issues such as autoimmune diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, and even cancer. Moreover, oxidative stress is linked to psychological distress, depression, low energy, and a lack of motivation, therefore, extensively impacting both physical and mental health.
Increased carbon dioxide levels lower blood pH by a physiological process known as the Bohr effect. This triggers hemoglobin to release oxygen to the body’s cells for ATP energy production. This mechanism is essential for maintaining cellular vitality. However, stress or anxiety can lead to hyperventilation, reducing carbon dioxide levels in the body and thereby disrupting hemoglobin’s oxygen release. This imbalance results in insufficient oxygen delivery to cells, compromising energy production and overall bodily function. Thus, both the physical consequences of oxidative stress and the disruption of oxygen delivery due to stress-induced breathing patterns highlight the intricate link between our respiratory habits, oxidative stress, and health outcomes.
What Are The Most Common Oxidative Stress Symptoms?
Recognizing the symptoms of oxidative stress is crucial for early intervention and management. Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with oxidative stress:
- Fatigue: Persistent tiredness or low energy can be a sign of oxidative stress, as cellular damage affects the body’s energy production processes.
- Headaches and Dizziness: Frequent headaches or feelings of dizziness may be due to the effects of oxidative stress on nervous system function.
- Sensitivity to Noise: An increased sensitivity to noise can be an indirect symptom of oxidative stress, possibly due to its impact on the nervous system.
- Memory Loss and Cognitive Decline: Oxidative stress is linked to neurodegenerative diseases and can lead to memory lapses or difficulty concentrating.
- Muscle and Joint Pain: Oxidative damage to muscle and joint tissues can lead to chronic pain or discomfort, often without a clear cause.
- Wrinkles and Grey Hair: Oxidative stress accelerates aging, contributing to visible signs like wrinkles and premature greying of hair.
- Decreased Eye Health: Vision problems like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration have been linked to oxidative stress.
- Susceptibility to Infections: Oxidative stress could weaken your immune system, making you sick more often.
- Changes in Skin Texture: Oxidative stress can lead to skin issues, including dryness, dullness, and increased signs of aging.
- Mood Disorders: Due to its effect on brain health, there is a link between oxidative stress and mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety.
It is important to note that these symptoms can also be indicative of other health conditions.
How To Reduce Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress can be addressed by creating an optimal balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide within the body. Dietary choices play a pivotal role– antioxidant-rich foods can neutralize free radicals, reducing oxidative damage and inflammation. Incorporating oxidative stress supplements, adopting a balanced diet, and engaging in mindful breathing exercises are effective strategies to alleviate oxidative stress.
SOMA Breath aims to help you create the optimum balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide for your body. We want you to experience a consistent flow of energy, increased productivity, better and more regulated moods, and be more resistant to stress. It can also help you stay physically healthy and reduce your chances of getting diseases associated with either an excess or a lack of oxygen.