HomeHealth articlesoxidative stressHow Does Oxidative Stress Cause Metabolic Diseases?

Studies have shown an inevitable relationship between the incidence of metabolic diseases and oxidative stress. Read this article to know more.

Written by

Dr. Sameeha M S

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Nagaraj

Published At January 10, 2023
Reviewed AtMarch 6, 2023


Reactive oxygen species are molecules that are unstable and heavily reactive and contain oxygen. They may be produced in the body as a part of mitochondrial metabolism or due to cellular response against toxins and inflammatory conditions. An imbalance between the generation of reactive oxygen species and the cellular capacity to generate an antioxidant response will result in oxidative stress. Several studies have concluded that oxidative stress plays an essential role in the occurrence of metabolic diseases in individuals. It includes conditions like atherosclerosis, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, vascular inflammation, and renal and liver diseases.

What Are Metabolic Diseases?

Metabolic diseases consist of a cluster of conditions such as high blood sugar levels, increased blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess body fat (obesity) that lead to an increased risk of developing heart disease, type 2 disease, and stroke. Metabolic diseases are increasing nowadays due to lifestyle changes and unhealthy habits. Multiple factors are involved in the occurrence of metabolic diseases. Many studies have been done to find the exact reasons for the increased incidence of metabolic diseases in people. Later on, several risk factors associated with the onset of metabolic diseases are identified.

Among all the risk factors, oxidative stress plays a vital role in developing metabolic diseases. Excessive reactive oxygen species (ROS) released into the cells as a result of oxidative stress will cause cellular lipid, protein, and nucleic acid damage. This may lead to cellular dysfunction and altered biological metabolism. The other risk factors associated with increased incidence of metabolic diseases are age, abdominal obesity, chronic inflammatory diseases, and insulin resistance.

What Is Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress occurs due to the imbalance between reactive oxygen species (free radicals) present in body tissues and the tissue's ability to detoxify and eliminate these reactive molecules. Oxidative stress will result in cell and tissue damage. Reactive oxygen species are generally produced in our body cells as a byproduct of oxygen metabolism and normal biological processes. In a balanced state, our body cells neutralize the highly reactive free radicals with the help of antioxidants. However, this normal body balance is altered in some situations, and excess free radical production occurs. Several factors are responsible for producing excess free radicals and oxidative stress.

It includes the following.

  • Lifestyle factors.

  • Diet (fats, sugars).

  • Exposure to toxic chemicals.

  • Environmental pollutants.

  • Radiation (ultraviolet rays).

  • Smoking.

  • Lack of exercise.

  • Certain medications (antiblastic drugs).

  • Obesity.

  • Exposure to hazardous pesticides.

  • Processed foods.

  • Exposure to heavy metals.

How Does Oxidative Stress Cause Metabolic Diseases?

In recent years, the occurrence of metabolic diseases has been rapidly increasing due to unhealthy lifestyle changes and other associated factors. Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress play a potent role in the occurrence of metabolic diseases. In addition, long-standing inflammatory conditions increase the risk of several diseases like arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

During oxidative stress, numerous highly reactive oxygen species will be available in the body. These molecules may cause oxidative modification of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and DNA and result in cellular damage. Several studies have shown that tolerance to oxidative stress decreases in old age individuals because of a decline in the concentration of antioxidant enzymes. As a result, cardiovascular alterations occur, leading to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and cardiac arrest. Diabetes mellitus and its complications are enhanced during oxidative stress. Excessive free radical action in diabetes mellitus (type 2) may lead to cardiovascular complications and chronic infections.

What Are the Harmful Effects of Oxidative Stress?

Oxidative stress results in an increased level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body. Superoxide radicals, hydroxyl radicals, hydrogen peroxide, and singlet oxygen are the common reactive oxygen species generated in our bodies as a byproduct of normal biological reactions. In low concentrations, free radicals show beneficial roles and are needed for synthesizing cellular structures and normal immune responses. When reactive oxygen species (ROS) production increases in our body, it will induce harmful effects on cellular structures such as lipids, proteins, cell membranes, lipoproteins, and nucleic acids. Excess hydroxyl and peroxynitrite free radicals cause cell membrane damage and lipid peroxidation. This, in turn, results in the production of conjugated diene compounds, which are responsible for cytotoxic and mutagenic effects.

Some common conditions that occur due to oxidative stress are the following.

  • Chronic inflammation.

  • Cancer.

  • Asthma.

  • Diabetes.

  • Alzheimer's disease.

  • Atherosclerosis.

  • Male infertility.

  • Parkinson's disease.

  • Inflammatory disorders.

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome.

  • Stroke.

  • High blood pressure.

How to Reduce Oxidative Stress?

Lifestyle changes and healthy dietary habits help to reduce the excessive production of reactive oxygen species in our body cells and reduce oxidative stress.

The following measures can be taken to reduce oxidative stress.

  • Having a healthy balanced lifestyle.

  • Eating healthy foods rich in fiber.

  • Including fruits and vegetables in daily diet.

  • Quitting smoking and alcohol use.

  • Avoiding exposure to harmful chemicals.

  • Reducing atmospheric pollution.

  • Adapting a stress-free lifestyle.

  • Including any form of physical activity in day-to-day life.

  • Limiting consumption of high calories in foods rich in fat and sugars.

  • Avoiding processed foods.


Oxidative stress occurs due to excessive levels of highly reactive free radical groups in the body. These highly reactive free radical species can cause cell wall, lipid, protein, and nucleic acid damage contributing to metabolic diseases. Unhealthy lifestyle habits, diet patterns, and exposure to toxic chemicals are the common etiological factors for developing oxidative stress. Therefore, maintaining an average healthy body weight, balanced eating, regular physical activities, and a stress-free lifestyle may help reduce oxidative stress.

Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. Nagaraj
Dr. Nagaraj


Source Article ArrowMost popular articles

Do you have a question on

oxidative stress

Ask a Wellness Expert online

*guaranteed answer within 4 hours

Disclaimer: Wellness medicine is not aimed to replace the services of your treating physician or allopathy medicines. Our site's information is to those who are willing to take responsibility for their health, being fully aware that the content published herein would not qualify as a prescription or specific medical advice. If users use the information and stop prescribed medication without their physician's consent, they bear full responsibility for their actions, and iCliniq-Wellness bears no responsibility for the same. Information on Wellness medicine should not be misinterpreted as a cure for any illness, as our body is complex and everyone reacts differently.