It’s great to be back! I am sorry for the break even though it provided me a much needed holiday. I thoroughly enjoyed it except for one major side effect- weight gain accompanied by the unsightly appearance of cellulite on the lower parts of my body. The hips, thighs and buttocks might not be the first thing people notice about you, but the dimpled or rough looking appearance of these parts contribute to the insecurity a lot of us feel about our bodies.
Cellulite is a specific combination of fat, waste, and water that forms a bumpy, rippled mass that gets trapped in the fibrous connective tissue just below the skin’s surface. It appears mostly on the hips, thighs, and buttocks but it can also appear on the arms and abdomen. This is a condition that affects about 80-90 percent of women, fat or lean (weight gain only makes cellulite more noticeable). Women are prone to cellulite because of the way our connective fibres are arranged in the body. Men’s connective tissue is set at an angle, firmer, more tightly packed than that of women which is arranged vertically and loosely. Furthermore, the female hormone (oestrogen) makes the hips, thighs and buttocks home to a large and thriving population of fat cells which makes these areas susceptible to cellulite. Cellulite form when the fat cells within the connective tissue enlarge, restricting blood and lymph circulation. Waste matter then accumulates, and fluid builds around the waste, which swells the connective tissue and bloats the fat cells. The fibres exert a downward pull on the swollen fat, resulting in a dimpled or rough appearance of the skin.
Also, hormonal disruptions during puberty, pregnancy menopause, and use of hormonal contraceptives alters the body’s normal state and may increase bloating, or the body’s ability to process fluids and lymph efficiently greatly increasing the chances of developing cellulite.
Other factors that can contribute to the development of cellulite include;
Diet – Naturally women store fat six times more readily on the lower body than the upper and, unfortunately it takes extra work to reduce fat from the lower body. Foods with too much fat and sugar are stored as fat especially around the thighs and bottoms. Skipping meals also forces the body to store fat which can become difficult to lose.
Regular consumption of processed, ready-made, or canned foods can lead to certain vitamin deficiencies and a sodium/potassium imbalance in the body. The careful balance of potassium and sodium in our bodies is crucial to the efficient flow of oxygen, essential nutrients and waste to and from our cells. If there is more sodium (salt) in the body, movement between the cells become sluggish, the removal of waste slows down and leads to build-up, fluid is retained and congestion occurs. Aside the short term effects of bloating and fluid retention, this imbalance on the long run, can lead to bad cell renewal and regeneration which damages the internal structure of the cells. Most processed foods, canned and ready-made foods contain added salt.
- Blood sugar imbalance also can lead to food cravings, another contributing factor to cellulite.
Other dietary factors that assist the progress of cellulite include low water intake; high consumption of diuretics like coffee, alcohol and caffeinated drinks; use of slimming pills which lead to water retention plus fatigue and irritability; lack of sufficient protein and fibre in diet.
Stress – Whether physical or mental, stress can alter body chemistry and prompt the storage of fat which also encourages the development of cellulite. Stressful situations trigger a release of the hormone adrenaline to various parts of the body which is used for many functions including water regulation. Increased stress levels cause increased release of adrenaline which causes imbalance in potassium/sodium levels, which causes bloating and fluid retention.
Sedentary Life style – Inactivity impairs good circulation and elimination of waste products from the body which can contribute to the development of cellulite.
Clothing – Wearing of underwear with tight elastic across the buttocks limits blood flow to this area and this can contribute to the formation of cellulite. Also, wearing of very tight jeans, wild belts and other restrictive clothing results in congestion and so increases the likelihood of cellulite.
No one medical/salon treatment, cream or portion can get rid of cellulite. Certain treatments might give it a better appearance but, in combination with some lifestyle changes, you are definitely on the way to banishing this unsightly problem known as cellulite.
- Avoid fatty, sugary foods, which are stored as fat mainly on the lower body. Reduce intake of dairy products especially cows’ milk. You can substitute with other healthier alternatives. Consider a calcium/magnesium supplement to make up for reducing your intake of dairy products.
- Avoid processed, canned and ready-made foods. Eat plenty of fresh foods especially fruits and vegetables. Include some form of protein like beans, fish and chicken in your diet daily.
- Increase your intake of potassium-rich foods such as potatoes, melon, carrots, paw-paw, watermelon, and raw vegetables.
- Increase your intake of fruits, especially, oranges. Oranges help to reduce cellulite because of their high water and vitamin C content, water helps to plump the skin. Other fruits that are useful include apples, mango and pineapple.
- Supplement your diet with a good multivitamin/ mineral daily. Make sure it contains Vitamin C and E.
- Increase your water intake to help your body function smoothly. Aim at drinking at least, 2.5litres of water daily.
- Minimise intake of alcohol, coffee and other caffeinated drinks.
- Do not take slimming pills and avoid excessive consumption of herbal teas. A little sipping of green tea daily is permitted.
- Exercise daily to increase your muscle tone and improve the appearance of your flesh. Exercises like yoga, dancing or swimming are excellent choices to help combat cellulite. If you cannot do any of them every day, aim to stretch daily and walk if you can, with up to four sessions of swimming, dancing and yoga each week.
- Walking is one of the best ways to beat cellulite, toning the muscles of the legs, hips and buttocks and keeping heart rate gently elevated for fat reduction. 20 minutes of brisk walking three or four times a week can also help combat cellulite.
Note: While you put these tips to practice, watch out for next week for professional and home treatment options that will also help to effectively combat cellulite.
Please feel free to write me if you have questions or comments as regards this topic. I would love to hear from you. facebook.com/africanbeautyguide