Fond of food? Maybe you call it cottage cheese. Or orange peel. Love your bed? Then perhaps you affectionately dubbed it mattress skin. Or hail damage if you’re into meteorology and don’t mind your ego being given a thorough thumping. Let’s not even get into all the different names doctors have for it … but to paraphrase Shakespeare, cellulite by any other name would vex our legs as much.
Who gets cellulite?
If you don’t suffer it, lucky – lucky – you. Be grateful, for you are the exception. To everyone else, be consoled by the fact that you are the rule. Cellulite is thought to affect a mind-boggling 90% of women and even men don’t escape it’s clutches (10% are afflicted). And that’s the crux of it, whether you’re a size 6 or 16, size has little to do with it. Almost everyone want to get rid of cellulite. Skinny supermodels have it, super fit athletes have it, even twenty-year olds have it. But in the same breath, there are women carrying a fair amount of extra weight, without a single dimple (or even stretch mark!) to be found anywhere. Cellulite isn’t so much a fat problem, as it is a skin problem. The type of fat that makes us fat, isn’t the same kind as the fat that causes cellulite. Yes, carrying extra weight can make it worse, but it’s not the root cause.
And if you didn’t already know, cellulite not only afflicts the thighs and butt, but also the knees, the belly and even the upper arms. In some women cellulite is immediately obvious with conspicuous areas of lumpy skin, deep dimples, and creases, while in others cellulite is “only” noticeable when pressing the skin.
What causes cellulite?
Despite the fact that it can send the most composed of women into a tizzy, cellulite is purely a crisis of looks, not one of health. In terms of what precisely causes cellulite, science doesn’t have clear answers for that yet. Most likely there are a cascade of causative factors – not one simple trigger. Genetics, hormones (particularly estrogen), extra weight, smoking, stress, poor diet, high alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise are thought to instigate, contribute to or exacerbate cellulite. However, cellulite is treatable, even if genetics are involved. Just because you have a genetic predisposition to cellulite, doesn’t mean you have to actually develop cellulite. There is a lot you can do to treat, reduce and/ or prevent cellulite. And if you currently do not suffer cellulite, it may be because you do not have cellulite – yet. It’s worth remembering that cellulite is estimated to affect 90% of women, which means that if you don’t suffer with cellulite you should assume that someday you will, and take steps to prevent it. It may be clichéd, but it’s true: prevention is better than cure!
HOW TO GET RID OF CELLULITE
There are a dizzying number of anti-cellulite products on offer, with most cellulite remedies targeting the skin directly – creams, lotions and other potions, massage, lasers and liposuction. All promising to get rid of cellulite. Yet so far most of these treatments haven’t shown to offer long-lasting results, if any results at all. And analyzing the triggers, it makes sense. Few of these treatments are addressing the root cause of cellulite, at least not in any meaningful and lasting manner.
To treat cellulite, you have to start from within. In other words, to get rid of cellulite, don’t just treat the symptom, treat the cause. Feeding and repairing your skin from within can reduce, eliminate and prevent cellulite in several ways:
- Strengthen blood vessels/ boost circulation. This is a key step in reducing cellulite, as blood vessels are the pathways by which nutrients important for healthy skin reach the dermis (the layer of skin which is damaged, causing cellulite). Strengthening blood vessels and increasing blood flow helps to nourish skin cells and help remove toxins.
- Promote the production of collagen, elastin and healthy connective tissue. The reason collagen is so important is because healthy, youthful looking skin depends upon it. Collagen found within connective tissue is the main structural protein of the skin and when it becomes damaged, it’s not pretty. Firm, strong and healthy collagen provides structural support. It prevents fat cells from breaking through the lower layer of skin (where it belongs) and reaching the top layer of the skin where they cause the skin to become lumpy and uneven.
- Hydrate and lock water into cells. Hydrated cells are strong and firm, and act as barrier stopping fat cells from pushing to the top of the skin where they become visible and cause dimpling associated with cellulite.
- Prevent and repair free-radical damage, which can damage skin, predisposing it to cellulite.
- Decrease inflammation, which if prolonged (chronic) can cause free-radical damage and cell membrane deterioration, increasing the likelihood of cellulite.
- Rebuild cell membranes. Stronger cells membranes means your cells are better able to keep water in and remain hydrated.
CELLULITE BUSTING SUPERFOODS
Food plays a major role if you want to get rid of cellulite once and for all. And growing numbers of experts agree. According to a Dr. Oz survey, almost 90% of dermatologists surveyed believe that what we eat affects the appearance of our skin. Experts believe that the following foods can help improve or prevent the appearance of cellulite.
You know that you need drink sufficient water, but did you know you should eat your water too? In fact, eating water is better than drinking it. Water in food is chemically different than water consumed as a beverage. Not only is it rich in nutrients, it also leaves the stomach more slowly, helping you feel fuller for longer and aiding weight loss. Eating foods with high water content such as melon improves skin hydration, keeping cells functioning at their peak level, plumping skin and preventing dimpling. Watermelon and cucumbers are 97 percent water.
Other foods rich in water are watercress, zucchini, tomatoes, spinach, onions, lettuce, grapefruit, aubergine, cauliflower, carrots and broccoli.
This time convenience trumps fresh. Tomato paste/ ketchup contains high levels of a substance called lycopene, higher than you’d find in fresh tomatoes. Cooked tomatoes also boast greater levels of lycopene than raw tomatoes. Why does it matter? Because according to research, lycopene can help strengthen the skin by preventing the breakdown of collagen, thereby helping to preserve and maintain the structure and resilience of skin. Collagen acts as a barrier in the skin, stopping the fat cells below from reaching the top layer where they cause cellulite. Lycopene may further improve the appearance of the skin by acting as a natural sun block, helping to protect against UV-induced sun damage such as sunburn and sun-induced aging.
Other foods rich in lycopene tend to be red in color and include tropical fruits watermelon, pink grapefruit, pink guava and papaya.
3. WHITE TEA
Research from Kingston University shows that white tea can help reduce the breakdown of elastin and collagen, both of which play an important role in maintaining the integrity of the skin and preventing cellulite. By protecting this layer of connective tissue in your skin, you are helping to keep the top layer of skin overlying your fat layer healthy and thick, preventing the out-pouching of the underlying fat cells, and reducing cellulite.
White tea also has great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, further helping to reduce cellulite.
Eggs are very rich in substance known as lecithin, which make up an important part of our cell membranes. Lecithin helps regulate the nutrients entering and exiting our cells and also helps make them water-tight.
If eggs aren’t your thing, other rich sources of lecithin include soy-based foods (e.g. tofu and soy milk) and legumes (e.g. peanuts). If you feel you’re not consuming sufficient lecithin-rich foods, you can try supplementing with soy lecithin granules.
Bursting with flavor, blueberries boast a bevy of health benefits that derive from the blue pigment (called anthocyanins) and which give blueberries their color. Not only a tremendous health food, blueberries are also a boon to anyone fighting cellulite. This cellulite-busting superfood acts by several mechanisms to crush cellulite. Anthocyanins work alongside Vitamin C (also found in blueberries), to encourage collagen fibers to link together in a way that strengthens the connective tissue matrix, which strengthens the skin. Anthocyanins also help to reduce the breakdown of collagen and protect collagen from oxidative damage.
All in all blueberries help keep collagen strong and healthy, which means it is able to do its job of providing the skin with structural support, promoting thick, strong and dimple-free skin. Other fruit rich in anthocyanins are cherries, blackberries, and raspberries. Pack in lots of nutrients with a healthy low calorie berry smoothie recipe.
6. OILY FISH
Oily fish is an excellent source of amino acids (the building blocks of protein), which help strengthen cell membranes and attract water into the cells. Amino acids are also important because they are needed by the body for collagen production. Another benefit is that protein is filling and helps keep blood sugar levels steady, meaning it’s easier to lose weight, which can reduce cellulite. Amino acids are also needed to build muscle, which along with fat loss, improves the appearance of cellulite. Increasing muscle mass has the added bonus of boosting metabolism – further aiding weight loss. Everything is connected – this is a vicious cycle of the good kind! Another cellulite buster found in oily fish is of course healthy essential fatty acids, which help to hydrate cells and keep them watertight, reducing cellulite.
Other great sources of protein are other types of fish, lean meat, cheese, milk, eggs, and beans.
7. FLAXSEED OIL
Flaxseed oil is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which help to hydrate cells by drawing water into dehydrated cells and work to keep water in by rebuilding cell membranes. The body is unable to make these fatty acids. Therefore it is important to consume them in your diet. Essential fatty acids don’t just help get rid of cellulite, but possess a multitude of health benefits, with research suggesting they play a role in preventing some cancers, reducing high cholesterol levels and improving heart disease.
Dress your salad with flaxseed oil or sprinkle flaxseed on oatmeal, cereal and yogurt. Other foods rich in essential fatty include olive oil, walnut oil, flax, sunflower and hemp seeds, raw nuts and oily fish.
Spinach is rich in several key vitamins that help fight cellulite. Spinach has high levels of B vitamins, which essentially act as a facilitator – B vitamins are needed by the body to effectively & optimally use other cellulite-fighting nutrients. Spinach is also a great source of vitamins A and C with help to increase collagen production. Another cellulite busting vitamin, is vitamin K, also found in spinach, which promotes healthy circulation. An easy way to incorporate more spinach into your diet is with green smoothies!
Other excellent sources of the B vitamins are wheat germ, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, poultry, fish and eggs.
9. BRAZIL NUTS
Brazil nuts contain high levels of an essential mineral called selenium. In fact, Brazil nuts are one of the richest dietary sources of selenium. Selenium plays a role in achieving healthy skin, by protecting skin quality and elasticity. The body uses selenium to make selenoproteins, which work like antioxidants preventing damage to cells by fighting and neutralizing damage-causing free radicals, thereby reducing or preventing cell damage and thusly cellulite.
Other dietary sources of selenium are kidney, tuna, crab, and lobster.
This cellulite buster packs a punch, boasting vitamin C which stimulates the production of collage, vitamin K which improves circulation, as well as a substance called bromelain. Bromelain, a complex mixture of enzymes, is thought to possess strong anti-inflammatory properties, which helps reduce cellulite and also improves circulation. Bromelain is found in all parts of the pineapple, and is especially concentrated in the stem.
Check out the Cellulite Infographic.
In addition to diet to get rid of cellulite, exercise is important too. Cellulite looks worse if you’re carrying too much body fat. Muscle also matters. Exercise will help tone and firm the muscle under the skin and improve circulation and blood flow. So follow a good weight loss workout plan if you need to lose weight. And incorporate a butt workout and/ or legs workout that targets the hamstrings, quads, buttocks and hips to firm the muscle and help smooth the skin’s appearance.