Cellulite - it's not pretty, it's not sexy, most of us struggle with it and it's frustrating! Even if you eat healthy and exercise daily, these missing puzzle pieces could be keeping you from being cellulite free.
What causes cellulite?
Cellulite results from both a build-up of fat and water retention in the adipose tissue (connective tissue that stores fat as well as cushions vital organs). As the adipocytes get bigger the 'envelopes' containing them change shape and pull on their anchor points on the skin. This is what causes cellulite's 'orange peel' effect.
It is well documented that high estrogen levels (typically in younger women and in women who are extremely overweight, have high blood pressure or diabetes) and low estrogen levels (typically in peri- and menopausal women) are the key reasons for cellulite and flab build-up.
This means that all expensive treatments like liposuction, lipomassage and anti-cellulite creams are not going to help much unless we address the underlying hormonal aspect.
There is also a genetic element that can influence your susceptibility to cellulite. Characteristics of specific genes have been shown to increase your chances of getting cellulite. However, you can still control these factors to a certain extent with exercise, diet, and lifestyle modifications.
Here are several different ways you can help your estrogen levels:
1. If estrogen dominant, lower estrogenic foods and introduce estrogen-blocking foods. Excessive estrogen (also known as estrogen dominance) can occur due to eating high amounts of processed foods, soy and packaged foods. Limit these foods and begin eatingprogesterone-enhancing food, such as raw nuts and seeds, avocado, leafy greens, and foods high in vitamin B-6 (beans, red meat, poultry, fish, bananas, spinach & tomatoes). This will help to oppose the estrogenic effect. Estrogen dominance can also result from physical inactivity, stress, excessive caloric intake, birth control pills, and pregnancy. Extra fat that collects around the abdominal area can promote more circulating estrogens, so physical activity plays a huge role. Even in the absence of high estrogen symptoms, excess stress will deplete progesterone and leave a women exposed to higher estrogen levels.
2. Optimize liver function to get rid of estrogen metabolites and toxins Ė they are a big cause of cellulite build-up as well. Give your liver a break from what taxes it the most: alcohol, coffee, processed foods with chemical additives and refined sugars/flours. Eat vegetables that naturally cleanse the liver such green leafy vegetables (kale, collard greens, spinach, etc.) Drinking green juices (like Dynamic Greens) is also great for boosting liver function. Exercise improves blood flow to and through the liver which promotes detoxification of the liver itself, so a daily exercise program is ideal. A liver support phyto-nutrient, such as Milk Thistle and SAM-e, will support your own liver's detox phases and optimize its overall function.
3. Eliminate or reduce synthetic estrogens coming from skincare products, house cleaning products and birth control pills.
Home made and/or organic toiletries and house hold cleaning products is a must.
4. Thyroid problems can also aggravate the cellulite issue. Hyperthyroid speeds up the estrogen-driven faulty formation of new tissues provoking fluid retention under the skin, also making cellulite worse. Have your thyroid levels tested by your health practitioner. Hormonesbalance.com is also a great resource to learn more about balancing your thyroid.
5. For low estrogen levels, avoid processed foods and foods high in trans fats. Simple dietary changes can also help support healthy estrogen levels through the intake of phytoestrogens, such as flaxseed and fermented soy products such as miso, tempeh and natto. Increase your intake of vegetables such as broccoli and brussels sprouts as they contain indols, compounds that are essential to healthy estrogen balance. Herbal products such as licorice, angelica, red clover or black cohosh are also used to support healthy estrogen levels. Foods high in boron such as dates, raisins, prunes, apricots, red kidney beans, brazil nuts, cashews and walnuts may help increase estrogen levels.
Collagen's Role in Cellulite
Collagen is a protein that helps to form the connective tissue in your tendons, ligaments and skin. If your collagen isnít formed properly or becomes damaged, then that connective tissue can become too thin or full of holes, and the fat underneath your skin can poke through in that unsightly, lumpy fashion that we affectionately refer to as cellulite.
Collagen needs oxygen and nutrients from blood, but with age and a decrease in estrogen levels, blood vessels in the lower body (especially in the upper calves, thighs, and butt) can begin to lose function, which decreases circulation, and in turn, the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to collagen.
How To Improve Collagen
1) strengthen connective tissue
2) decrease fat
So what can you do to strengthen the connective tissue of your inner skin so that fat is less likely to come through?
Here are three tips for strengthening connective tissue to reduce cellulite formation:
- Exercise. Besides strengthening connective tissue, the other way of getting rid of cellulite is to decrease your overall fat stores. Exercise improves blood flow to connective tissues and strengthens the muscles that help tighten and support the skin.
- Nutrition. By regularly eating protein-rich foods such as fish, nuts, seeds, yogurt, beef, bone broth and dairy, you can get a higher dietary supply of collagen and elastin forming components, which help strengthen connective tissue. Staying hydrated each day will also assist your skinís elasticity and help your connective tissue stay healthy. High sugar and high calorie foods, and pre-packaged, processed foods- foods filled with preservatives, can increase your potential for fat formation.
- Circulation. Avoid tight clothing and tight underwear, especially around areas where you tend to form cellulite or you donít want to get cellulite.