Whether a teen or an adult, cellulite is the bane of all women. If fact, one statistic I came across claimed that the percentage of cellulite in women compared to men is 90:10, respectively. That’s estrogen for you! On top of that, many women feel so much cultural pressure to look a certain way that changes in appearance can become quite distressing. What’s a girl to do?
Well, this discussion is going to take us beyond the aesthetics of appearance to consider how cellulite is actually a visible clue of deeper levels of change in the body related to health and function. Choosing to stay healthy is a powerful motivator which can help us manage cellulite in a way that goes beyond vanity towards improving both our appearance and our health! We begin by discussing four key factors in the development of cellulite: collagen, fat, estrogen, and circulation.
The Big Four: Collagen, Fat, Estrogen, and Circulation
Collagen is a chief constituent of the connective tissue matrix (ECM or fascia) that forms the skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Cellulite is the adipose fatty tissue component of the fascia which lies between the skin and the muscles. While the matrix gives the body its shape and allows structures under the skin to slide past each other, fatty adipose tissue serves to insulate the body from cold or heat, stores energy and nutrients, and cushions the body and organs against impact. Estrogen, a hormone circulated in the blood, has been implicated in the formation of cellulite, either due to a lack of it or an excess of it in the body. Aging and obesity lead to reduced microcirculation of blood, depriving the ECM 0f necessary nutrients for the adequate production of collagen fibers to support the structure of the matrix. Dehydration and thinning of the matrix causes the skin to lose its elasticity and tone, allowing underlying fatty deposits to expand and push up against the skin’s surface, creating cellulite’s signature orange peel appearance.
Naming Cellulite as a Problem
According to Scientific American, cellulite first began to be considered a problem in the 1970s. Research has linked it to smoking, stress hormones, endocrine imbalance, genetics, contraceptives, edema, a sedentary lifestyle, and poor diet. We could probably add exposure to estrogenic chemical compounds to the list too.
Unfortunately, rising numbers of young people are succumbing to obesity due to the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.). The appearance of cellulite at younger and younger ages signals dysfunction in the body related to excess intake of fat, endocrine dysfunction, poor circulation, and loss of collagen, something that should alarm us all.
Today, the cultural anxiety surrounding cellulite has fueled an explosion of products and treatments to address the condition. To counteract the breakdown of tissue in the body, increase circulation, and balance hormone production, dermatologists, researchers, and clinicians suggest the following approaches:
• Increase circulation to the area – cupping and gua sha are very effective
• Flush toxins – lymphatic drainage
• Strengthen collagen – exercise, walking, dancing, stretching, vitamin C
• Reduce dietary fat — add more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, water
As they say, knowledge is power. Hopefully these tips will help you manage cellulite by addressing the underlying conditions that promote it.
To your health!