Written by Andrew Carruthers
Cellulite is the term given to the unsightly formations that occur on the surface of the skin, generally caused by superficial fat deposits. These fat deposits lie close to the skin’s surface as women have vertical chambers in their subcutaneous fat layers where fat stores are stacked. When these ‘stacks’ get high enough these chambers may protrude slightly into the dermis, causing the visible disruption to the skin’s surface. This problem is more common in women and generally occurs around the buttocks, stomach, upper thigh region and the calves and ankles. In fact, the unsightly appearance of cellulite gave rise to the term orange peel skin, which is what most people use to describe affected areas.
There are two types of cellulite, namely hard and soft cellulite. Soft cellulite is normally sensitive to the touch and gives the skin the characteristic dimpling effect commonly associated with the condition. Once the formation of cellulite has progressed through this initial formation stage it then becomes hard. This form of cellulite is always visible and the tissue may be flabby, but is, in most cases, no longer sensitive. There are a number of reasons why the superficial fatty deposits form near the surface of the skin to form cellulite, but there are just as many ways to combat it. The main causes of cellulite are hormonal, genetic, metabolic and lifestyle related.
In terms of hormones, oestrogen is widely considered to be the biggest contributor to the formation of cellulite. However, other hormones such as insulin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones and prolactin are also linked with increases in cellulite formation.
Your genes will also determine your susceptibility to cellulite, so if it runs in the family then you are likely to suffer from it too. There are also several other factors that can predispose you to cellulite, including your age, race, the natural distribution of subcutaneous fat on your body and lymphatic and circulatory insufficiencies. These insufficiencies relate to the ineffective removal of waste products, which can cause a build-up of toxins that can exacerbate this condition.
There are also numerous reasons why age affects cellulite development in women. First of all, as we age our skin actually gets thinner, which makes cellulite more visible. Skin tone and firmness also decreases with age, due largely to poorer collagen production and skin regeneration. This allows the vertical chambers to protrude further into the skin’s surface and enhances the appearance of cellulite. The reduction in our metabolism as we age is also the leading cause of age-related weight gain, which is a major contributing factor to the formation of cellulite.
There are also environmental factors that can compound the problem. Stress, for instance, can cause an increase in the production of hormones linked with cellulite development, such as adrenaline and noradrenaline.
With this in mind, there are a number of natural ways in which you can reduce the appearance and development of cellulite. The most important factor in this regard is your diet. A healthy diet will limit the fat-based weight gain that rapidly leads to the formation of cellulite. A clean diet also reduces the build-up of toxins in your body and ensures a steady supply of healthy oxygen, vitamins, minerals and nutrients to the skin.
The trick is to stay away from refined and processed foods, artificial foods that contain sweeteners, additives and chemicals, as well as fat-laden products and those with high sugar contents. You will also be doing yourself a favour by limiting the number of drinks you have each day that contain stimulants. Many experts believe that the stimulant caffeine, found in coffee and tea, as well as carbonated and energy drinks has a direct and negative effect on lymph flow and blood circulation, as it causes vasoconstriction. This cuts down the amount of essential nutrients and oxygen that reaches the skin and hampers effective cell metabolism, resulting in a build-up of waste products.
You can also add more antioxidant-rich foods to your diet, which will help your body combat the build up of free radicals and other toxins in your system. Antioxidant-rich foods include oranges, various berries, beans, broccoli, prunes, apples, carrots, cherries, plums, tomatoes and peas.
The appearance of cellulite is also more pronounced when your skin’s connective tissue is weak. This allows fat cells to protrude through the connective tissues into the layer of skin just beneath the surface. To keep your connective tissue strong you should eat foods that are rich in vitamin C, as it helps with the restoration of skin structure.
Water is also an important constituent of firm skin, so be sure to drink enough water each day. Adequate water intake is also important as it helps to flush toxins from your system. In addition to water you can include a few cups of Rooibos and various herbal teas as part of your daily fluid intake, as they can also help to remove toxins and reduce cellulite.
Combining your healthy eating plan with a high intensity exercise programme will also yield impressive results in the fight against cellulite. By controlling your calorie intake through your diet and burning more calories than you consume through regular exercise, you will reduce fat stores and limit the amount of dietary fat that is deposited in the problem areas mentioned above.
Weight training will also help to tone and shape muscles, giving your skin a tighter look. This makes it less prone to the signs of cellulite, while the extra muscle helps to burn more calories throughout the day, reducing fat stores even further.
Exercise also improves blood circulation in the skin, which makes connective tissue more elastic and helps to improve waste and toxin removal. And don’t forget, exercise is also a great stress reliever.
While you can’t spot reduce cellulite, some focused and targeted training around the stomach, upper and lower legs, hips and buttocks will help firm and tone these areas and improve blood flow in the most susceptible areas.
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Adding these minerals and vitamins to your daily supplement regime will also help in the fight against cellulite, but they are not cures:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin A
- Co-Enzyme Q10
Alternative remedies that many people also tout as ways to help reduce the formation and development of cellulite include massage, saunas and steam rooms, acupuncture, reflexology, meditation and relaxation. At the end of the day your best bet for reducing cellulite is to use a combination of all the tips and techniques mentioned above to compliment a healthy and active lifestyle.