Cellulite: Causes, Prevention and Treatment
What is Cellulite?
A great many people have cellulite - some sources say that it occurs in 90 percent of women. That's a lot of lumps! What
is cellulite, anyway? Does it mean you're unhealthy? Can you get it if you're not overweight?
Cellulite was not always considered unattractive. In days past, lumpy skin on the buttocks and thighs was considered
feminine and was depicted favorably in paintings. But today, most of us consider cellulite unsightly and want to get rid
of it. Regardless of how it's viewed, many of us are not sure just what cellulite is.
Directly under the skin, there is a fat layer, particularly in women. This subcutaneous fat
layer can become pitted and bumpy in appearance. Why it does so is subject to debate. But
the fact that this fat layer is more predominant in women than in men has a lot to do with
why women are more subject to cellulite.
What Causes the Bumps?
The jury is still out on this one. Nearly all sources agree that the lumps occur in the subcutaneous fat layer, but opinions
differ as to how they get there.
* Hormones may play a role, which would also help explain women's tendency to develop cellulite. In this day and age of
synthetic hormones and chemical hormone disruptors (such as some pesticides), it's no wonder that hormonal
imbalances are becoming more prominent. Hormones influence all sorts of body systems, including how the body stores
* Poor circulation is another possible cause of cellulite. When the circulation in a certain body area is poor, it may result
in poor skin tone, "stagnant" fat cells and inadequate lymphatic drainage. These factors may come together to form the
bumpy appearance of cellulite.
* Heredity may also play a role. Your genes determine your skin thickness and overall body structure, which conspire to
make you more or less vulnerable to cellulite.
* A tight tissue "network" under the skin may also contribute to cellulite. The shape, placement, and flexibility (or lack of
it) in the subcutaneous tissue plays a significant role in how lumpy the fat under the skin looks.
Is It Unhealthy?
Cellulite is not considered unhealthy per se. But it may be a sign of poor health if it results from excess body weight,
poor exercise habits, or a build-up of toxins.
Is Cellulite Just Fat?
While cellulite is subcutaneous fat that appears lumpy, it's not "just fat." In fact, healthy subcutaneous fat can give you a
youthful, smooth appearance, especially in the face. Some people will even have fat injected under the skin in a
cosmetic procedure to "plump" certain areas of the body! So cellulite is not just fat; it's a particular manifestation of
body fat. Not all body fat looks lumpy.
What Causes Cellulite, and How Can You Get Rid of It?
When you look in the mirror, there may be certain areas of your body that just don't look smooth, or that look dimpled
and bumpy. Some say it looks like the skin of an orange, or like cottage cheese. You may know this is cellulite, but how
did it get there? What is it, exactly? It is any different from regular fat?
Causes of Cellulite
Some people have cellulite from the time they are very young; others develop it when they are older. It is not just body
fat. Cellulite is body fat, but it is a particular manifestation of it. While there is no one cause that can be pinpointed in all
cases of cellulite, here are some of the commonly known causes of cellulite.
* Heredity - Unfortunately, your genes may have much to do with how much cellulite you have. This may be particularly
true for those who develop cellulite at a young age. It seems that in some families the tendency toward cellulite, like
other bodily traits, may be passed from parent to child. This does not mean you can't do anything about it, though.
* Age - Some sources note the "sagging" of fat cells as the way that cellulite forms, and as we age we become more
prone to this weakening of fat cells. Fat under the surface of the skin is said to look smooth as long as the elastic nature
of the fat cells remains intact. Aging may cause these fat cells to become less flexible and weaker, so that the dimples
and pits of cellulite appear.
* Poor diet - You may be thinking that for a "poor diet" to cause cellulite, it must be high in fat and unhealthy foods. This
is only partially the case, however - many sources note that a diet low in healthy fat may contribute to cellulite
formation. This is because the consumption of healthy fats helps build strong, healthy cells in your body. These good
fats, or essential fatty acids (EFAs) may help the weak fat layer under your skin to become strong and flexible again.
Toxins are said to sabotage the suppleness of the skin and fat layer, causing pits and bumps that hold these toxins.
Depending on which school of thought you adopt, you could consider cellulite a sign that something is amiss with your
health, whether it's circulatory health, poor diet, or hormone imbalances.
How To Prevent Cellulite?
It's said that taking preventative measures before cellulite has a chance to form can help prevent its formation. Even if
cellulite is already a fact of life for you, prevention tips can help stop more cellulite from forming and may even reduce
the appearance of existing cellulite. Here are some suggestions and ideas.
Exercise may help prevent and reduce cellulite, too. Regular exercise like walking or
cycling is good to incorporate into your routine, and if you want to get serious about
cellulite-prone areas, target-toning may help a lot toward prevention and reduction.
Some sources say weight training is a good remedy for cellulite.
Because smoking fills your body with toxins, and a build-up of toxins may promote
cellulite. In fact, some sources say that cellulite is almost entirely due to toxin build-up.
Smoking can also contribute to overall poor health, which can manifest as saggy skin and a tired appearance.
Smoking also has a profound effect on the circulatory system, causing blood vessels to constrict and the heart to pump
faster. It's been theorized that cellulite may be caused in part by poor circulation. So avoiding smoking may prevent
cellulite by keeping the circulation from being adversely affected.
A low-fat diet may be an importance aspect of cellulite prevention, but only if the diet is low in unhealthy fats. Studies
suggest that a diet rich in healthy fats (in moderation, of course) may help reduce cellulite and prevent its formation.
Basically, healthy fats keep body fat healthy, and some body fat under the skin, especially in women, is perfectly normal
and healthy. This fat layer may become saggy and pitted if the fat cells are being "fed" by unhealthy fats in the diet.
Replacing the bad fats with moderate amounts of healthy fats may help keep this normal fat layer in top shape.
Massage is considered an important treatment for cellulite, but some regular
massage to prevent cellulite may be in order. You can make a simple massage part
of your daily routine with a hand-held, home massager specifically for cellulite or
enjoy an occasional professional massage.
Creams and Scrubs
Like massage, creams and scrubs can be used for prevention or reduction of cellulite. Their application can also be made
a part of your daily routine; just apply them after showering and/or before bed.
Diet and Exercise as Treatment for Cellulite
Are you looking to rid yourself of cellulite, or reduce its appearance? If so, you might be overwhelmed by the
treatments available out there.
One of the frustrating things about cellulite is that losing weight does not necessarily get rid
of it. Even skinny people can have cellulite! Whether or not weight is an issue, though, cellulite's appearance may be
reduced through diet and exercise.
An Anti-Cellulite Diet
Because cellulite cannot really be pinned down to a single cause, a healthy, anti-cellulite diet
incorporates multiple factors. Here are some aspects of such a diet.
* Antioxidants - Cellulite may be partly due to the accumulation of toxins in the body. To
address this potential cause of cellulite, sources recommend a diet rich in antioxidant foods,
such as berries, tomatoes and green tea.
* EFAs - Essential fatty acids - EFAs - are important for overall health, but sources suggest
that EFAs are an important component of cellulite reduction. It is said that EFAs help make
the fat cells of the body stronger and more elastic, thus reducing the dimpled appearance of cellulite.
* Fiber - Diets that are high in fiber may promote intestinal health. While this may not seem like what you want in
cellulite reduction, it's actually very likely that healthy digestion can help cellulite. After all, toxins are said to play a part
in the appearance of cellulite, and healthy digestion aids the body in getting rid of these toxins.
* Protein - If you want to build and tone muscle in order to reduce cellulite, eating lean protein may help. Muscle is
made up of protein, and high-protein foods help your body build muscle. Replacing fatty foods with lean protein foods is
a healthy step toward reducing cellulite.
Exercises like lunges and squats help to work the thighs and buttocks. There are quite a few exercises out there
specifically for the buttocks and thighs, because these tend to be problem areas for so many people. Just about all of
these target-toning exercises can help reduce cellulite. Swimming, jogging, walking, biking, and other cardio exercises
are great for overall health and fitness. Ideally, an anti-cellulite exercise routine would involve 15-30 minutes of cardio
and 15-30 minutes of target toning several times a week. Exercises to reduce cellulite can be done in your home via
DVD, video, or online tutorials. Or, you can join a class or gym.
It could be said that combining exercise (see above), with diet is the best combination for combating cellulite. Experts
say that a diet high in unhealthy fats (fats that are solid at room temperature, trans fats, and so forth) can contribute to
cellulite, but a diet rich in healthy fats (Omega 3s, Omega 6s, and other essential fatty acids) may actually help reduce
cellulite and prevent its formation. Apparently, when you consume healthy fats, you contribute to the healthy
appearance of the skin and the fat cells beneath it.
Lean protein, whole grains (for fiber and key nutrients), and lots of plant-based foods is probably your best bet for an
anti-cellulite diet. Just changing your diet is probably not going to make all you cellulite magically disappear. However, it
may contribute significantly to an overall regimen to reduce cellulite.
Poor circulation may contribute to cellulite formation. As noted above, exercise is a good way to boost your
cardiovascular system, and target toning can enhance circulation right where the cellulite is. Massage may have a similar
effect, bringing blood to the affected area and enhancing skin tone.
Because cellulite is said to be an issue of skin as well as the fat layer beneath, massage can address both of these areas.
Many home cellulite massagers are available on the market - perhaps the least expensive is a hand-held device meant to
be used in the shower on wet, soapy skin. There are also electrical massagers available, and even spa treatments with
Creams and Scrubs
Whether you go with homemade creams and scrubs or commercial ones, such topical treatments are said to be most
effective when combined with other approaches. Anti-cellulite scrubs can help enhance circulation, as can "wraps,"
where you apply a cream to the area and wrap it in plastic wrap. Creams often contain caffeine which is said to tighten
up the skin.
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