Cellulite is fat that is deposited in pockets just below the surface of the skin. It occurs around the hips, thighs, knees and buttocks, and sometimes on the triceps and abdomen. Because it is very close to the surface of the skin, cellulite leads to a dimpled appearance.
Cellulite, which affects 90 percent of women and 10 percent of men, may be more visible than fat deeper in the body. In general, cellulite starts appearing between ages 25-35. Even thin people can have cellulite, as everyone has layers of fat just below the surface of the skin. Collagen fibers that connect fat to the skin may pull tight, break down, or stretch, allowing the fat cells to bulge out. This creates the rippled look of cellulite.
As women start approaching menopause, estrogen starts decreasing. When estrogen starts to decrease, receptors in blood vessels and thighs are lost, resulting in decreased circulation. Decreased circulation means less oxygen and nutrition to that area, which creates a decrease in collagen production. In addition, around this time fat cells start becoming larger and begin protruding through the collagen, becoming the bumpy fat commonly referred to as cellulite.1
- A junk food diet or fad dieting
- Slow metabolism
- Hormone changes
- Smoking (decreases circulation and collagen production)
- Excessive alcohol consumption can create estrogen dominance
Why do women get cellulite more than men?
In women, the structure of collagen (the main protein of connective tissue) has the appearance of a picket fence, whereas in men it looks more liked a cross-linked fence. The “cross-linked structure” is much stronger and is more capable of holding in fat. 2
What do I do about it?
Unfortunately, there is no magical cure for cellulite. You will have more luck preventing further pockets (or preventing the appearance of cellulite if you don’t yet have it), and arresting the development of the dimples you’ve got by minimizing their appearance. In our office, our most recommended course of action involves balancing hormones, maintaining a healthy weight, improving circulation and feeding the skin from the inside out.
Daily exercise is key. We recommend 30 minutes of brisk cardio (walking, jogging, kickboxing etc.) at least three days per week (preferably daily). If you like yoga or Pilates, add that in 2-3 times a week. Another great exercise for improving circulation and lymphatic drainage is jumping on a rebounder (a mini-trampoline) for 10-15 minutes each day.
Body brushing once every day using a natural body brush or loofah (avoid synthetic materials). Try body brushing for 10-15 min before your shower in the morning or evening. This stimulates circulation.
Dietary eliminations. The consumption of certain high-allergen foods causes many people to gain weight. Try this experiment: eliminate all wheat, gluten, processed sugar and pasteurized dairy products for a minimum of three months and see if you notice an improvement in your weight and therefore your cellulite. In most cases, you will see a dramatic improvement in your skin tone and the appearance of dimples.
Consume good fats. Good fats help balance hormones. We recommend extra-virgin olive, ghee, butter, and virgin coconut oil. Good plant sources are avocados, organic nuts such as almonds and walnuts and seeds such as flax and chia.
Keep fiber intake high. Fiber in the forms of organic salads, vegetable soups and cruciferous vegetables in very helpful in keeping skin healthy and aiding elimination of toxins, including excess estrogen.
What to Avoid
Liposuction is not recommended for cellulite, and may even make it look worse. The fat dimples are not removed with liposuction, and therefore can become even more prominent afterwards.3
Transfats: this means no margarine, no canola oil and no hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Transfats wreak havoc on your hormonal systems and cause weight gain.
Endocrine disrupters (such as bisphenol-A) are found in plastics and conventionally raised animals, who are given estrogenic compounds to increase their growth. Endocrine disrupters mimic estrogen and can create an estrogen dominance in the body. Eat organically whenever possible and carry your water in glass or stainless steel rather than plastic.
Elasticized underwear and pantyhose. According to Dr. Lionel Bissoon, osteopathic physician and author of The Cellulite Cure, elasticized underwear cuts off the circulation in the hips and thighs, prime places where cellulite likes to congregate. Your underwear should either be loose-fitting or some type of thong that does not cut into your thighs or buttocks. Putting pantyhose over underwear creates a tourniquet effect, forcing lymphatic drainage back into the body.4
Recommended Supplementation for Cellulite
Collagen production for smooth skin.
Provides healthy cross linking when combined with vitamin C.
1,2,4 Is Cellulite Forever by Katherine Harmon, Scientific American May 4, 2009