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Balancing everyday oxidative stress and inflammation to help maintain healthy mood

Balancing everyday oxidative stress and inflammation to help maintain healthy mood

Learn how to balance your everyday oxidative stress.

Balancing everyday oxidative stress and inflammation to help maintain healthy mood


The maintenance of healthy internal balance, including healthy mood balance, may be affected by normal everyday cellular oxidative stress, and the presence of chronic and mild inflammation. These are a common part of modern everyday life.1-3

Studies have found that Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (more commonly referred to as Nrf2), a protein found in the nucleus of our body’s cells, has been found to help the body maintain a balance in its own antioxidants, and in turn, normal inflammation in the body.2,4 Interestingly, Nrf2 can be activated by various components found in our everyday diet.2,4

Nrf2 and its role in balancing everyday oxidative stress and inflammation

Nrf2 is a unique protein found in the nucleus of the cell, which is activated when the body’s antioxidant status is out of balance. Oxidative stress can occur as a bi-product of natural metabolic processes in the body, or from reactive oxidative species (ROS) taken in from our normal diet or the general environment around us.4

When Nrf2 is activated, it activates other substances in the cell which help to produce our bodies own antioxidants and enzymes which help with detoxification, to help restore antioxidant balance. Activation of Nrf2 can also help to reduce ROS, which in turn can help to reduce inflammation in the body.4

Mood and inflammation

Evidence suggests that normal inflammatory processes may play a role in maintaining healthy mood via activation of a protein in the brain called brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF).5,6 BDNF is responsible for various functions in the brain, including cognitive function, the preservation of existing brain cells and growth of new brain cells.6

Nrf2 activators and our diet

Many substances in our diet can help to activate Nrf2, and help us to maintain healthy antioxidant and inflammatory balance, and in turn, healthy mood balance.1,2,7

Sulforaphane/glucoraphanin have been found to help reduce inflammation and increase the ability to cope with daily stress and support healthy emotional wellbeing.1 These are found in cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cabbage.8

Curcumin can help with antioxidant support, and is found in the spice turmeric.9

Quercetin is an antioxidant bioflavonoid, and can be found in citrus fruits, apples, onions, parsley, sage, green tea, red wine, olive oil, grapes, dark cherries, dark berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and bilberries.10

Resveratrol – is also a supportive antioxidant, and is found in high amounts in grapes, wine, grape juice, peanuts, cocoa, and berries of the Vaccinium spp, including blueberries, bilberries, and cranberries.11

Selenium is an important component of many of the body’s enzyme systems and hence may play an important nutritional role in supporting normal antioxidant pathways. This nutrient is common in organ meats, seafood, garlic, Brazil nuts, and multiple Brassica spp including broccoli.12

Other tips to help maintain healthy mood

Keep active! Regular exercise is important in maintaining healthy mood.

Keep a regular sleep pattern, and get enough (7-9 hours per night).

Speak with a counsellor, family or friend about your worries.

Do fun activities you enjoy!


  1. Yao W, Zhang JC, Ishima T, et al. Role of Keap1-Nrf2 signaling in depression and dietary intake of glucoraphanin confers stress resilience in mice. Sci Rep 2016;6:30659.
  2. Maes M, Fišar Z, Medina M, et al. New drug targets in depression: inflammatory, cell-mediated immune, oxidative and nitrosative stress, mitochondrial, antioxidant, and neuroprogressive pathways. And new drug candidates–Nrf2 activators and GSK-3 inhibitors. Inflammopharmacology 2012;20(3):127-150.
  3. Taha R, Blaise G. Nrf2 activation as a future target of therapy for chronic diseases. Functional Foods in Health and Diseases 2014;4(11):510-523.
  4. Cardozo LF, Pedruzzi LM, Stenvinkel P, et al. Nutritional strategies to modulate inflammation and oxidative stress pathways via activation of the master antioxidant switch Nrf2. Biochimie 2013;95(8):1525-1533.
  5. Sánchez-Villegas A, Galbete C, Martinez-González MA, et al. The effect of the Mediterranean diet on plasma brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) levels: the PREDIMED-NAVARRA randomized trial. Nutr Neurosci 2011;14(5):195-201.
  6. 8 Ways To Increase BDNF Levels (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). Mental Health Daily. Viewed 6 Mar 2917,

Kumar H, Kim IS, More SV, et al. Natural product-derived pharmacological modulators of Nrf2/ARE pathway for chronic diseases. Nat Prod Rep 2014; 31(1):109-139.

  1. Bouvier E, Brouillard F, Molet J, et al. Nrf2-dependent persistent oxidative stress results in stress-induced vulnerability to depression. Mol Psychiatry 2016;00:1-13.
  2. Isothiocyanates. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center, 2008. Viewed 20 Feb 2017,
  3. Curcumin. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center, 2016. Viewed 20 Feb 2017,
  4. Quercetin. University of Maryland Research Center, 2016. Viewed 20 Feb 2017,
  5. Resveratrol. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center, 2015. Viewed 20 Feb 2017,
  6. Selenium. Linus Pauling Institute – Micronutrient Information Center, 2015. Viewed 20 Feb 2017,
  7. Depression – treatment and management. Better Health Channel 2016. Viewed 6 Mar 2017,



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