Cellulite, how does it exist in the body and what is the connection to our health?

Cellulite is one of the most commonly discussed, and complained about skin conditions. Even though the condition has to do with fat cells, it is not only present in those who are overweight, but you are also genetically predisposed to it.

In simple terms, cellulite is when adipose (fat) tissue pushes against the connective tissue of the skin, causing the dimpled appearance of cellulite. There is a lot of shame, insecurity and poor body image tied to cellulite in society today – and yet it is non-discriminative in its presence on both men and women’s bodies. While the exact cause is unknown, contributing factors are multifactorial and often not well understood.

Over 85% of women have cellulite, affecting both overweight and lean people, and while age was previously thought to be a factor, we are now aware that even children are living with cellulite.

It’s a completely normal occurrence in women of all sizes and shapes and it is part of the structural makeup of the skin. It largely presents around the hips, thighs, buttocks, lower abdomen, and backs of the arms.

Poor lifestyle choices such as an unhealthy, refined foods diet, lack of exercise, smoking and excess alcohol all affect our bodies’ healthy detoxification processes, cell renewal, circulation, and healthy connective tissue structure…therefore, whether indirect, these factors will increase or enhance the appearance or susceptibility to cellulite.

What contributes to the the production of cellulite?

  • Genetics
  • Hormonal changes: pregnancy, puberty, menopause, hormone imbalances and changes (which can undesirably influence where we store fat, connective tissue health and appearance, the quality of our skin – which may cause cellulite to be more noticeable/prominent on the skin)
  • Excess body weight
  • Higher body fat percentage
  • Chronic dehydration
  • Weaker dermal connective tissue structure
  • Toxic load
  • Sluggish lymphatic system
  • Xenoestrogens (in particular such as plastics, pollutants, contraceptive pill, hormone replacement therapy)

There is a booming cosmetic industry that sells to us ways to target and treat our cellulite, however there is no substantial evidence to show that these remedies actually minimise or reduce the appearance of cellulite. Visible improvements may be temporary, and require ongoing appointments and treatment that will come at a cost. Is it worth the investment, or is there something else we can be doing?

While we are not claiming that certain dietary and lifestyle changes will 100% reduce cellulite, the benefit of implementing certain behaviours into our life (if we aren’t already doing so) comes with far greater long-term benefits for our overall health and wellbeing. If it has an indirect benefit on how our skin looks and feels on the outside, then that is a wonderful bonus.

Tips for treating cellulite:

  • Hydration – yes get your 8-10 glasses of filtered water daily, but also hydrate through the foods you are consuming – fresh fruit and veggies for the win!
  • Clean up your diet and reduce or eliminate empty calories like sugar, trans fats (found in processed foods) and alcohol
  • Reduce lymphatic congestion – use your dry body brush 1-2 times daily, hot and cold showers, IFR saunas
  • Exercise – find what you love and find a variety of ways to move your body – walking, running, HIIT training, pilates/barre, yoga, swimming, lifting weights, surfing, dancing
  • Concerned about your connective tissue? One of the best ways to get more collagen in your diet (and a host of other minerals) is consuming bone broth (combine with Vitamin C rich foods in your diet as well, as vitamin C is needed for collagen integrity)
  • Hormonal imbalances – seek practitioner support to help you get to the root cause of these. Oestrogen may not be the only culprit when it comes to cellulite…we can look into insulin, cortisol, thyroid hormones- just to name a few
  • Breaking down the “structures” that create the cellulite using massage or cupping
  • Love your beautiful body in this moment, for all that it does for you!

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