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What Is Cellulite and Where Does It Come From?

Cellulite is a harmless condition characterized by a dimpled, lumpy appearance of the skin. The condition is most prevalent in women around the thighs and buttocks region but may appear in the breasts, nape of the neck, lower abdomen, and upper arms. Cellulite is most commonly seen in areas of the body where fat is distributed underneath the skin. Our skin is separated into three distinctive layers; the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous. The subcutaneous layer of the skin is described as the ‘fat cell chamber’ where cellulite is commonly found. As fat cells accumulate in this layer of the skin, they protrude into the dermis giving the skin that dimpled, lumpy appearance. In women, the fat cells within the subcutaneous layer are arranged vertically whereas in men, it has a criss-cross structure making cellulite harder to push through to the dermis.  For this reason, cellulite is more common in females than males.

The severity of cellulite is determined by three grades:

  • Grade 1: Mild severity, characterized by an “orange peel” appearance on the skin, between 1 to 4 depressions.
  • Grade 2: Moderate severity, a “cottage cheese” appearance on the skin, between 5 to 9 depressions.
  • Grade 3: Severe, a “mattress” appearance on the skin, with 10 or more depressions.
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While cellulite is factored into levels of severity, it is still harmless to the body. Health care providers consider it a normal condition. The majority of women, roughly 80 to 90 percent, experience cellulite.

My mom has cellulite so that has to be why I have it, right? You may have heard that cellulite is mainly genetic, but is that really the only reason? Actually no, there are other factors that contribute to its development such as; hormones, age, and lifestyle factors.

Factors Linked to The Development of Cellulite

Genetics do play a role in the cause of cellulite as certain genes are required for its development. A person’s genetic makeup can be linked to the amount of fat beneath the skin and the chance of cellulite appearance. While genetics is thought to be the most common cause of cellulite, there are other factors you may not have thought of that can cause the appearance of cellulite.

Hormones for example play an important role in cellulite formation. These hormones may include; estrogen, insulin, noradrenaline, thyroid hormones, and prolactin. For women, estrogen levels decrease when approaching menopause causing decreased circulation underneath the skin and increases fat cell size. Decreased blood flow means less oxygen in that area making fat deposits more visible, resulting in the dimpled skin appearance.

Another factor associated with cellulite is age. As you get older, the skin becomes thinner, less elastic, and more likely to droop down. Thus, this change in the skin increases the chance of cellulite.

An interesting and surprising factor that can increase cellulite development is choice of clothing. Tight fitting clothes can limit the amount of blood flow, contributing to its formation. Overall, the true cause of cellulite formation is unknown but a positive lifestyle change could be its cure.

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Is there a solution to the “orange peel” dimpled appearance of your skin?

Let Nutrition Be the Solution

Yes! Let nutrition be your solution. A healthy lifestyle may benefit your body in reducing the risk of cellulite development. Living a nutritious, balanced life along with exercise may decrease its appearance. There are dozens of therapies and solutions out there claiming to vanish the appearance of cellulite but, these solutions are not scientifically proven to do so. Cellulite may decrease or go away temporarily but these are not long-term solutions. Such therapies/procedures out there include;

  • Laser treatment: A painful procedure, it involves a small laser that is probed underneath the skin, may only improve appearance for a year.
  • Vacuum-assisted precise tissue release: A procedure that involves cutting connective bands using small blades, allowing for tissue underneath to move up, claims to reduce the appearance for up to three years; however, data on its success is limited.
  • Carboxytherapy: Carbon dioxide is inserted under the skin, this procedure is painful and is followed with numerous side effects;  claims that some cellulite MAY disappear but not guaranteed.
  • Radiotherapy: The procedure involves heating the cellulite but, results following are short term.
  • Ultrasonic liposculpting: This is supposed to target and destroy fat.  Once again, there is little research proving  it works.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has not found significant amounts of research to support most of these treatments.  The AAD also does not recommend undergoing many of these procedures as they may cause more harm than good. Many of these require multiple treatments, which can cost a fortune. There are plenty of other treatments out there all claiming to make your cellulite disappear, but they are not long-term solutions and cannot be maintained. Why burn a hole in your wallet if your cellulite can be maintained in a much easier and less expensive way? Proper nutrition and exercise are your new friends for cellulite maintenance.

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Let’s Start With Nutrition

Eating nutrient dense foods is the most effective treatment for cellulite, and it doesn’t cost a fortune. Proper nutrients found in most foods can limit the appearance of cellulite. Some of the foods include;

  • Foods with a low glycemic index: These foods help reduce fat storage in the body, therefore, less cellulite buildup. Foods with a low glycemic index include; leafy greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, apples, avocado, oranges, barley, whole grains, nuts, seeds.
  • Bell Peppers: Peppers are rich in vitamin B6, they restore and fortify connective tissue in the body ultimately getting rid of cellulite
  • Turmeric: A golden spice with golden benefits. Turmeric contains curcumin which has the ability to reduce fat deposits in the body.
  • Water: If the body is dehydrated, cellulite may be more visible. Increase your intake of water to ensure your cells get enough to flush out toxins in the body.
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Next Let’s Discuss Exercise

According to the AAD, extra weight on the body can make cellulite more visible. Having a high muscle mass in the body replaces fat with muscle making cellulite less noticeable. At the gym, try more strength training, increase your previous weight, and increase that muscle mass! Here are some exercises for you to try next time at the gym:

  • Lunge variations: Step up with reverse lunge, curtsey lunge, lateral lunge, and split squats (do these holding dumbbells at your side)
  • Glute bridges: Add a dumbbell or medicine ball on your hips, you can also incorporate a resistance band just adobe the knees for some added resistance to the workout.
  • Jump Squats: Hold dumbbells at your side or hug a medicine ball.
  • Pushups

Next time you’re looking in the mirror and feel uncomfortable with your cellulite, take a moment to think about it. Cellulite is NOT harmful, most women will experience it some time in their life, and it is treatable with a healthy lifestyle. Don’t get discouraged when you see it, let nutrition and exercise be your solution!