Sperm are particularly prone to the damage caused by free radicals. Discover their common causes and how to counter their impact.
Our bodies work on many different systems of balance. One of these systems, is called oxidative stress. This is when there is an imbalance between free radicals, which cause damage to healthy cells, and antioxidants, which counteract these effects.
Oxidative stress is what contributes to the process of ageing, and in the case of fertility, oxidative stress is known to impact sperm health.
Free radicals are caused by many known ‘toxic’ substances, such as alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs, but also by some substances that are perhaps less expected, such as fried, barbecued or burnt food, and caffeine.
COMMON CAUSES OF FREE RADICALS
- Processed foods
- Fried, burnt and barbecued foods
- Recreational drugs
- Environmental pollution
There’s nothing we can do to stop free radicals. Even breathing contributes to their production, so we have to look at what else we can do to limit their effect. This is where antioxidants come in. Yes, those supplements that your other half has been telling you to take are important.
Antioxidants are compounds that inhibit oxidisation and can therefore balance the effects of oxidative stress. One of the key ways we can influence the balance between antioxidants and free radicals is through our diet, by eating foods high in antioxidants.