Why you don't necessarily have to live with orange peel skin.....
Cellulite is something that affects a huge proportion of women - 85% of us, in fact. Many of us assume the reason that we are 'lumped' with it is that we are carrying a couple of extra pounds that we really should do something about. The reality is that cellulite can be completely unrelated to weight. Nine out of ten women with a healthy amount of muscle who fall within the healthy Body Mass Index range will have cellulite on their body … and if you are a Caucasian woman, this number creeps ever closer to 10 out of 10! Cellulite can actually be treated, with natural methods that don’t involve thousands of dollars. So what is cellulite, how do your hormones effect cellulite, why has it chosen to live on your legs, and what can you do starting today to start helping your skin look smoother?
What's in a name?
Cellulite has plenty of medical names, including adiposis edematosa, gynoid lipodystrophy, dermopanniculosis deformans and status protusus cutis. However, health professionals widely recognize that it isn't necessarily a dysfunction of any body part, but a natural consequence of several factors. These include:
- The effect of estrogen on the body
- Having poor circulation
- A natural breakdown of connective tissue
- The effect of other hormones on the body, including insulin, thyroid hormones, prolactin, the stress hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline
The physical process of developing cellulite - don't try this at home! Some of the clues to combating cellulite can be found when you look at how it forms, physically. Cellulite develops when:
- Microcirculation is impaired to the subcutaneous layer of fat, one of the deeper layers. This means that blood is more susceptible to pooling and more fluid is retained.
- Capillaries and veins become weaker with reduced circulation and may leak blood into surrounding tissue, which compounds the circulation problem
- The lymphatic fluid builds up in the subcutaneous layer, pushing the fat cells outwards against the top layer of skin. The orange peel look appears.
- The septae, cell walls, start to congeal with the stagnant lymphatic fluid. They then become thicker, and can trap and squeeze the fat cells even more. This makes the protrusion even more prominent.
The fact that nearly 90% of women in the world have cellulite, while it is extremely rare in men (even very overweight ones) is a flashing neon sign pointing to estrogen as a culprit for creating cellulite. Estrogen creates septae structures that are mesh-like, rather than smooth, and therefore the structures trap fat deposits more easily. However much you hate your cellulite, though, you really should love your estrogen! When you mess with estrogen, though, you are messing with something much bigger than leg dimples. Proper estrogen balance in the body is required to:
- Maintain your memory and mental function in good working order
- Stop you from becoming a permanent pre-menstrual monster … a drop in estrogen during the week prior to your period is what makes the fangs come out!
- Preserve bone density and prevent osteoporosis
- Lower your risk of heart disease, by regulating the liver's production of cholesterol
- Help maintain vaginal lining and prevent dryness and itching
- Keep your blood vessels dilated (and therefore improve your circulation - which actually helps improve the appearance of cellulite)
Be wary of any cellulite treatment that aims to reduce your estrogen levels artificially in order to reduce the appearance of cellulite. The formation of cellulite is a complex process that needs a multi-pronged approach to solving it. You may not only be getting rid of cellulite by reducing estrogen levels, but getting rid of your bone density, your protection against heart attacks, your natural feel-good hormones, your protection against heart disease and your good circulation! So, what are those safe, natural methods for getting rid of cellulite?
Reduce hormone overload
In Western society, we actually consume a great deal of hormones, more than we realize. Chicken and other meat products are almost unfailingly fed hormone products to help stimulate fast growth and make them more cost effective. Women on any sort of hormonal contraceptive (whether daily, quarterly or slow-release) are exposed not only to artificial levels of estrogen, but to extra stress hormones (adrenaline and noradrenaline).
There are quite a few ways to improve circulation, including with exercise, hot and cold treatments, various positions and with herbal supplements. Try the following methods for improving your circulation:
- Yoga: Yoga helps with flexibility, stress, posture and general fitness. These are all great end goals in themselves, but more importantly for the cellulite-afflicted, they also help improve your circulation!
- Hydrotherapy: Hot and cold water treatment is a great way to improve your circulation, even if it is un-comfy at first! Have your shower water a little hotter than you usually would, staying there for around 15 seconds. Then turn the hot off completely and change it to full cold. Hop away from the water a little so you don't accidentally burn yourself, and change it back to just a little too warm. Repeat the process 5 or 6 times.
- When your shower water is a little too warm, your blood vessels expand and move to the surface of your skin. When it immediately becomes cold, they rush to your internal organs to preserve your heat, flooding them with a rush of blood.
- Stand on your head, or lie with your feet against the wall: This position uses gravity to help force blood into capillaries that your heart alone may not be able to force it into.
- Stop smoking! This is one of the single biggest things that women can do to improve circulation and help stop the appearance of cellulite.
- Take Gingko Biloba and eat plenty of cayenne pepper: These herbs are recognized for their circulation-stimulating properties.
Improving Lymphatic Drainage
Detoxifying your body can help improve lymphatic drainage, as can massage and the roller therapy that has become popular as a cellulite 'treatment' in some circles. Make sure you eat natural foods, use natural bath and beauty products, and regularly detoxify your body in order to support your body's lymphatic drainage system.
Get regular massages - these don't necessarily need to be the more expensive 'cellulite reduction' kind. However it is usually best to have trained professional do them, to avoid actually doing damage to your body.
The roller and ultrasound treatments which aim to improve lymphatic drainage and help reduce the appearance of cellulite often do work. However, be aware that their effects are temporary. Your cellulite will look just as it ever did within a few weeks.
Cellulite affects women of all sizes - even thin women get cellulite. However, the process of losing weight can not only shrink the size of your fat cells, but improve the underlying causes of cellulite (poor circulation and lymphatic drainage). Try some of these creative ways to start losing weight: • Check out the 'Sit and be Fit' program, which is meant for elderly people, but is also great for couch potatoes! • Walk to the shops to get a treat - even if they're more than five minutes away. Take a partner. • Sit on a stationary bike to watch television instead of a couch • Do the 5 minute clean - set your oven or cell phone timer for 5 minutes, and see how much of the house you can get tidied and cleaned. Race around if you have to!
Diet and a Toxic Lifestyle
Diet plays a myriad of roles in the formation of cellulite. Your diet can: • Make you gain weight, increasing the size of fat cells and making them protrude more from the body • Reduce your circulation, if you eat a lot of processed foods, foods high in saturated fats and sugar • Impair your lymphatic drainage • Increase your natural hormone levels, when you eat hormone-supplemented meat, or when you eat foods that raise the production of stress hormones
Kassie Kuehl is a respected leader in, and advocate for, natural health and beauty care. The founder of Kasia natural line of skin care and stylist for Kasia Organic Salon, Kassie combines her experience as a nutrition coach with her ongoing Functional Medicine research to apply a whole of body “Beautiful Health’ approach to hair care and styling. She can be found at www.kasiaorganicsalon.com.
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Wikipedia.org. 01.27.07. Cellulite. URL: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellulite (accessed 02/06.09).
Rudman, D., et al. 1990. Effects of human growth hormone in men over 60 years old. NEJMed, 323(1), 1–6.