In this post, we cover everything you need to know about cellulite: what causes cellulite, natural ways to prevent cellulite from occurring, natural ways to minimize cellulite’s appearance, and natural ways to get rid of cellulite.
Having cellulite on your body is normal, but, whether you admit it or not, seeing its symptoms can definitely impact your self-confidence. Cellulite is fairly common; in fact, about 90% of women and 10% of men develop it at some point in their lives. Believe it or not, even people who are very physically fit can also develop cellulite.
While it is obviously not a life-threatening condition, it remains an issue of aesthetic concern to many people. There is nothing wrong with having cellulite; however, you may want to reduce its appearance and learn how to get rid of cellulite.
What is Cellulite?
Gynoid lipodystrophy, more commonly known as cellulite, is a natural occurrence where the skin begins to have alterations in the form of lumps (or bulges) and dimples (or puckers) that give it a not-so-attractive appearance. The term was first used during the 1920s to describe an aesthetic change in the appearance of the skin’s surface; its appearance resembles that of an orange-peel skin, cottage-cheese or a mattress cover. The symptoms affect certain areas of the body, such as the abdomen, hips, legs and buttocks; the dimpling may appear small and scattered, or may also have larger indentations.
As mentioned above, women have higher chances of developing cellulite, especially at some point after puberty. This is because women's fat cells are arranged differently than men’s fat cells. In women, the fat cells and their connective tissues are vertically arranged, whereas in men the fat cells and its connective tissues are arranged in a criss-cross structure.
To better understand the concept, the starting point is that there are fat cells present underneath our skin. These fat cells are tethered by connective tissues (which run vertically between the fat cells) that attach the outer layers of your skin to the deeper ones. These connective tissues have pouches where normal-sized fat cells are also located. When these fat cells expand beyond their normal size, the pouches will consequently become swollen; this phenomenon is characterized by the appearance of bulges or small bumps on your skin. The connective tissues meanwhile remain attached, but become overstretched and eventually harden, which causes the skin to be pulled downwards. This phenomenon is characterized by the appearance of puckers on your skin.
Cellulite also has stages or grades of development, as per the validated cellulite severity scale published in 2009. Grade 0 is characterized by having no symptoms of cellulite in the body. Grade 1 or mild is characterized by having symptoms of cellulite only while sitting, but none while standing up. Grade 2 or moderate is characterized by having symptoms of cellulite while sitting or standing up. Lastly, Grade 3 is characterized by having symptoms of severely raised and depressed skin either while sitting or standing up. In general, many women experience cellulite legs, cellulite on thighs, or cellulite on stomach. As discussed below, there are several options for cellulite treatment and removal.
What are the Causes of Cellulite?
You may be surprised to learn that the exact cause of cellulite is still not clear. Its exact manner of causation is difficult to identify as there are many processes that happen both sequentially and simultaneously, which makes the condition all the more complicated.
The condition starts at some point after puberty and also gets more common as people age. As the skin gets thinner with age, it becomes easier for cellulite to develop and become noticeable. Additionally, lighter-skinned people have a greater likelihood of developing the symptoms.
There is not one single root cause of cellulite, but, as discussed below, there are various factors that are linked to a person's likelihood of developing cellulite.
1. Hormonal Factors
Hormonal imbalance, primarily between estrogen and testosterone, plays an important role in cellulite formation. If too much estrogen is present compared to testosterone, the cellulite levels may increase. This is also one of the major reasons why cellulite is more common in women than men. On the other hand, reduction in estrogen, which is what happens during menopause, can also significantly increase the chances of developing cellulite. Imbalance between these two hormones are caused by many factors, such as poor sleeping patterns, lack of physical activity, stress and excessive physical training.
Testosterone levels can also become lower when the liver is overburdened. Liver detoxifies the blood by removing harmful substances (such as alcohol), and it also removes estrogen from the blood. However, estrogen removal will not be the liver's priority when there is too much toxicity present in the blood. Additionally, consumption of foods preserved in lacquer-coated containers, as well as use of cosmetic products, perfumes, pesticides, and most plastics can also be a culprit, as these products contain xenoestrogens (which are estrogen-like substances).
High levels of insulin may also contribute to the formation of cellulite, as insulin stimulates lipogenesis, or the formation of fat, in the body.
Aging does not directly influence the development of cellulite, but its biomechanical properties (extensibility, retractability and elasticity) do. In particular, cellulite tends to worsen with age as the skin loses its elasticity, muscle mass and gains more fat. In 2008, a study was conducted using 94 healthy females who were divided into three age groups of 21 to 30, 31 to 40 and 51 to 60, and into two cellulite grade groups of 0 and 2. Both the biomechanical properties and skin thickness were tested using ultrasound. The results showed that the shadowed surfaces in females under group 2 were significantly different (i.e. smaller and more numerous) after the age of 30, which showed that the biomechanical properties of the skin significantly decreased with age.
3. Genetic Factors
Genetics plays an important role in a person's rate of metabolism, fat distribution, and circulatory levels, all of which can affect the likelihood of developing cellulite. In addition, a study published in 2010 found that 2 out of 25 genetic variants were found (via DNA extraction) in a randomly selected group of 200 women who had cellulite. The study paved the way for the development of genetic tests (such as the CelluliteDX Genetic Test) which aim to identify a gene variant responsible for cellulite formation, as well as predict if a person is at risk for developing moderate to severe cellulite.
4. Dietary Factors and Lifestyle Factors
People who eat foods that are high in fat, sugar, carbohydrates and salt have a greater likelihood of developing cellulite. In addition, smoking, long periods of seating or standing and lack of exercise can also increase one's chances of developing cellulite. In addition, wearing tight clothing can limit proper blood flow which may cause or worsen the appearance of cellulite.
Natural Ways to Reduce Cellulite
Presently, researchers have not yet found a guaranteed solution for cellulite nor a treatment method that can perpetually reverse the condition, as cellulite is more of a structural issue within the body. A handful of expensive scientific techniques are already available today; these techniques aim to reduce cellulite appearance by altering the bands of the connective tissue underneath the skin. However, the success rate of these scientific techniques still remains questionable.
Fortunately, there are a number of simple, natural, and inexpensive strategies as well. One thing that contributes to cellulite production is the accumulation of toxins in the adipose tissues (or the tissues used by the body to store fat), which all of us can definitely do something about. The techniques that are described below focus on the elimination of such toxins. Applying these practices regularly will not only help eliminate the toxins that cause cellulite, but will also promote a long and healthy life.
1. Gradually increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
Toxins accumulate in the body's cells, tissues and organs, and consuming fresh fruits and vegetables is a great way to remove those toxins. Fresh fruits and vegetables are considered alkaline-forming foods, which means that they make your body more alkaline. The alkalinity created by fruits and vegetables draws out the acidic toxins in the cells, which is caused by acid-forming foods like red meat, eggs, and other high-protein foods. Gradual increase or slow transition is considered more effective as the body cannot flush out a large amount of toxins all at once. If the increase is done abruptly, some of the toxins will just circulate again and settle in the body.
2. Hydrate using only pure drinking water or fresh vegetable juices
When done in combination with the above-noted practice, drinking pure water or fresh green vegetable juices can effectively flush toxins out of the body. Drinking pure water is a healthy habit especially when done first thing after waking up. For variety, adding some fresh lemon juice or slices to your water is a great option. As for green vegetable juices, it is best to consume them on an empty stomach and only when freshly prepared, as that is when it holds the most nutritional value. If green vegetable juices are consumed during or after a meal, it will be hard for the body to absorb the healthy benefits of the juice as the body will become occupied working on the excess waste from the consumed dense foods.
3. Avoid using refined or table salt
Usually sold in supermarkets or offered in restaurants, table salt has a lot of added synthetic chemicals. Some of these chemicals are iodide, sodium bicarbonate, fluoride, anti-caking agents, and many more. Needless to say, most commercially sold salts are culprits for dehydration and are bad for the body. Additionally, they are unhealthy and contains a lot of toxins. Sea salt and crystal salt are much better options, as these are alkaline and can provide many benefits to the body, including thyroid and adrenal function support, hormone balance support and healthy metabolism support.
4. Engage in vigorous exercise to achieve a high heart rate
Achieving a high heart rate by engaging in vigorous exercise is another effective approach to reducing the appearance of cellulite. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise is being performed - uphill running, interval training, swimming or any other routine - as long as endorphin rush is achieved. If that occurs, the body's metabolism will be boosted, thus burning fat. On the other hand, any low intensity exercise such as yoga or walking will not be as effective in reducing the appearance of cellulite. Of course, for those who have health restrictions, low intensity exercises are better than nothing at all.
5. Practice regular colon cleansing
Toxic waste materials that have been drawn out of the cells by consuming alkaline-forming foods still need to be completely removed so that they will not resettle in the body. The body's main elimination channel, which is the bowel, does just that. The body's bowel system is where a large percentage of waste materials go. However, some people may have a weakened bowel system which is ineffective at purging all toxins from the body. In such case, helping the bowel remove waste materials by regular colon cleansing, either through a home enema kit or a professional hydro-therapist, can be helpful.
6. Practice dry brushing regularly
Photo credit @jamilakyari
Many people find that using a dry brush on their body on a regular basis leads to significant improvement in the health of their skin and a dramatic reduction in the appearance of cellulite. Brushing the skin using a dry brush stimulates the lymphatic system, which in turn helps toxins circulate and eventually find their way to the body's various elimination channels. In other words, a dry brush essentially works as a cellulite massager. It is for this reason that dry brushes are commonly referred to as cellulite brushes or anti cellulite brushes. Additionally, dry brushing is also a great way to temporarily promote the widening of the capillaries under the skin. This encourages greater blood flow under the skin surface which helps rid the body of toxins.
While cellulite may be a normal condition that affects many people regardless of size or gender, it may not be aesthetically pleasing to some people. Fortunately, incorporating the above habits into your lifestyle will not only keep cellulite at bay, but will also keep you healthy and beautiful both inside and out.