Foods to preload with to combat Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is caused by the overproduction of free radicals in the body and a reduced amount of antioxidants to combat this oxidation. Free radicals occur as the body converts glucose into energy but this isn’t the only way.

There are many environmental factors such as exercise, eating foods with oils cooked at high temperatures, smoking, the detoxification of pollutants and pesticides and so forth. Free radicals damage our cells and our DNA and have been linked as a possible cause of cancer and visible ageing. However, if we keep our intake of antioxidants high then these vitamins can combat the production of free radicals and keep our body at an optimum level.

But why is this important for exercise?

Well, as we said before, exercising puts our body under physical stress and it ramps up the production of free radicals. Therefore, if we are not preloading with an adequate amount of antioxidant-containing foods then we are at risk of suffering from cell damage, which is not good. 

A recent study on people with type 2 diabetes suggests that fruit and vegetable intake may decrease oxidative stress and inflammation. An increased intake of fruit and vegetables can therefore be beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes, since these patients are documented to have raised oxidative stress and inflammation.

Man diabetes test | DNAfit Blog

Although the study is focused on people suffering from diabetes, their levels of stress and inflammation are far higher than people without, due to the imbalance of their blood glucose levels.

Diet becomes important because many people today live on a diet made up of many processed foods and sugar, which are counterproductive to combatting free radicals and oxidative stress. By simply adjusting the way that you eat, you could maintain that healthy balance in the body that is necessary to live a healthy life.

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But how many antioxidants do you personally need?

Your body produces antioxidants on its own, but it is not enough to combat the effects of free radicals that are caused as a result of your environment and lifestyle. Your genetics play a big role in determining your inherent need for antioxidants and how well your body utilises these vitamins.

By doing a DNA test you will receive information based on your own individual profile pertaining to your antioxidant need, which will guide you in knowing the amount of antioxidants you should be including in your diet; although whatever your profile you should be consciously including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet regardless as they are crucial for a healthy life.

Another route that people go is to supplement rather than focusing on foods. At DNAfit we are all about promoting a food first approach because foods that are high in antioxidants are also rich in other vitamins such as vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, zinc and beta carotene. They will provide you with a variety of nutrients and ensure that your diet is healthy and balanced. You will find that by including these foods into your diet you won’t have to rely on supplements to get your antioxidants.

What foods contain antioxidants?

Antioxidants can be found in a variety of fruits, vegetables and even spices, below is a list of foods that you can include before your workout (and after) to combat to ill effects of oxidative stress and reduce the amount of free radicals in your body. 


Woman fruit shopping | DNAfit Blog

Citrus fruits: Grapefruit, lemons, oranges

Blueberries, raspberries






Foods to preload with to combat Oxidative Stress1


Cruciferous vegetables: spinach, broccoli, kale, cabbage



Sweet potato

Herbs and Spices

Foods to preload with to combat Oxidative StressGreen tea





Cocoa in dark chocolate


And there you have it. You can use these foods to create a delicious meal that’s also packed with nutrients that will keep your body balanced and healthy. Antioxidants only form a part of a healthy diet but if you are getting them from natural food sources then you’re covering a whole lot of bases. Add some protein and nuts to your preload meal and you’re good to go!

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