When there is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in the body, the condition is termed oxidative stress. Free radicals can best be described as molecules containing oxygen with an uneven number of electrons. Free radicals are able to easily react with other molecules because of the uneven number in their atomic makeup. Due to this high tendency to react with other molecules, free radicals can cause large chemical chain reactions inside of the body. These chain reactions are called oxidation and can be harmful to the body or they may be beneficial to the body. Antioxidants are characterized as molecules with the ability to donate one electron to a free radical without destabilizing themselves. Antioxidants help free radicals become more stable and less likely to react with other molecules.
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Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive variation of dementia, an encompassing term defined by conditions that have resulted from injuries to the brain or diseases that adversely affect behavior, memory, and thinking. Alzheimer’s disease causes the degeneration and death of brain cells, resulting in progressive memory impairment, difficulty with thinking and reasoning, a decreased ability to make decisions and judgments, as well as changes in behavior and personality. This condition is very debilitating and adversely interferes with the everyday lives of the individuals who have it.
Oxidative stress causes DNA oxidation to occur in the brain, and DNA oxidation causes an excitotoxic response that results in the death of critical nerve cells. Oxidative stress also causes lipid oxidation in the brain, and this type of oxidation process produces numerous chemical byproducts that cause damage to the membranes of nerve cells. Oxidative stress also induces what is called protein oxidation, which results in byproducts like carbonyl that cause damage to nerve terminals. All three of these types of oxidation processes often cause damage to the nerve cells which can result in the development of any form of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
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