WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT:
- Is cellulite a taboo theme?
- Society and the demands/expectations to be perfect.
- What exactly is cellulite? Illness, skin disorder or a cosmetic problem?
- Cellulite as a symptom of underlying disorders – microcirculation problems or degenerative changes of the connective tissue.
- Microcirculation problems – symptoms, when to see a doctor?
- Degenerative changes of the connective tissue – what is it and what are the symptoms?
- Is fat a connective tissue?
- Lifestyle and diet changes to battle cellulite.
- At the end of the day, the most important thing is your own opinion of yourself.
I have a question: if cellulite is such a normal thing on a person’s body, then why are the cosmetic, pharmaceutical and wellness industry bombarding everyone with products that help people get rid of it? It sounds like the biggest hypocrisy – oh, look at your thighs and ass, you have cellulite and here’s a cream/ointment/procedure that could help you GET RID of it ONCE AND FOR ALL! But, don’t worry, you’re beautiful! But, oh my, look at your cellulite!
Many people have cellulite, no matter the body types and percentage of fat in the body. PC aside (God, I hate Political Correctness), people say you’re beautiful, but they stare at your cellulite. Celebrities come to award shows with tons of makeup that hides their cellulite. And, if only one pimple shows – the media zooms in on it and makes it as big as an elephant. And then the same media tells you that you’re beautiful, but advertises a cream that “gets rid of cellulite”.
Gotta love our society.
If cellulite was accepted by our society, it would not be talked down upon, lotioned, creamed, massaged, sucked, lipoed, airbrushed… It would be a generally accepted and ignored part of the human body, like big/small eyes, wide toes, wonky ears, etc.
The hard truth that everyone already knows is that YOU CAN’T GET RID OF CELLULITE. It’s there for life. Reduce appearance, sure, maybe. But don’t think that there’s a magic cream out there, that will help you. Maybe it will firm the place where there’s cellulite, but trust me, the moment you stop using that cream, the firmness is gone.
Like most things in life – you have to work your ass off to have a good ass.
Just don’t be an ass about it.
And I’m not talking about exercise only, but change of diet and lifestyle as well.
So, you know the drill – let’s dive in and understand what cellulite is. Many people say, if you have cellulite – you’re fat. Not true.
WHAT IS CELLULITE?
The word “fat” brings out so many emotions in people. It gets out frustration, fear, disdain, defensiveness, shame, aggression, maybe apathy, rarely self-confidence. Fat is seen as the enemy, something ugly, something that needs to NOT exist. But, fat is a lot more complex than we think.
Physiologically speaking, it represents a subcutaneous tissue, a component of the skin, a passive storehouse of energy, a necessary part of the human body. When you look at it this way, it’s hard to view it as the bad guy.
But, wait till it turns on you! Harvey Dent style! It becomes a confused super-villain obsessed with duality and confliction between being good and bad.
As a good guy, fat helps us store nutrients, helps us synthesize hormones, keeps us warm. As a bad guy… well, let’s just say it’s a huge trouble maker. Atherosclerosis, obesity, as well as indirectly causing diabetes, endocrine diseases, liver disease, metabolic, endocrine, hormonal and immune system imbalance.
And on top of all THAT it can also store itself under the skin and causes what is known as cellulite.
Now, can you try and imagine how terrible cellulite must be?
THIS is what society is very much concentrated on!
But, let’s stop ranting. Time to talk cellulite and answer the above question in huge red letters:
What is cellulite? I mean, beside a storage of fat under someone’s skin.
The term cellulite has existed for more than 150 years.
It all started in France and for some reason, I’m not surprised.
The French… They know all the beauty secrets. Maybe.
Cellulite in some literature is described as a skin disorder and in some as a cosmetic problem. Factors that are also linked to cellulite are genetic, hormonal and age. But in more and more literature sources, cellulite is branded as an illness, instead of a superficial condition. This is because, according to WHO, it more and more negatively influences the mental state of men and women. Wonder why… Ever bought a fashion magazine or scrolled the Internet for beauty and fashion ideas (women or men, it doesn’t matter)? Have you seen the photos?
People think they HAVE TO be perfect.
Medically speaking, it is a change in the subcutaneous layer of the skin, which could be fibrous or oedematous. It could be caused by lipodistrophy, oedemetical or fibrosing deviation of the connective tissue. It could also be present because of underlying disorders, such as microcirculation problems or degenerative changes of the connective tissue. (1)
It means there’s either abnormal distribution of fat in the body, or too much water in between the tissues or cells (interstitial fluid) or a change in the structure of the connective tissue due to a number of different disorders.
Sounds serious, you think.
If we’re talking about microcirculation problems, or degenerative changes of the connective tissue – sure, it could be serious.
How do we know, if we have microcirculation problems or degenerative changes of the connective tissue?
Well, that’s a good question. I’m glad you asked!
First, what is microcirculation?
Do NOT mistake microcirculation with macrocirculation. The second one is the circulation to and from the organs.
Microcirculation is the circulation of the blood in the smallest of blood vessels, the microvessels. These microvessells are the capillaries, venules, arterioles and metarterioles. There’s microcirculation in the lymphatic capillaries, as well as in the collecting ducts.
The main function of our microcirculation is oxygen and nutrients delivery as well as removal of carbon dioxide (CO2). It also regulates blood flow and tissue perfusion, which means it can affect blood pressure and responses to inflammation, which can also include edema (swelling).
So how do we know, if we have a problem?
Some people don’t experience symptoms at all, but the problem could be there anyway.
- Swelling, especially of your legs, could be a sign of poor microcirculation.
- Cold hands and feet.
- Numbness in your fingers or toes, in your hands or feet, in your arms or legs.
- The feeling of heavy legs.
- Skin color changes.
- Varicose veins (I’ll talk about these in another post).
- Difficulty concentrating.
All these symptoms are very non – specific and could mean anything. I’ve bolded the more common symptoms. If by any chance, you have any of those symptoms, visit your doctor and have them checked up.
There are number of ways to diagnose problems with microcirculation and also number of ways to treat or control the symptoms. The causes can be different, ranging from blood clots to atherosclerosis to being overweight to simply not exercising at all.
Lifestyle changes help a lot:
- quitting smoking,
- losing weight,
- exercising more,
- eating a healthy diet (for healthy circulation also include: fruits – tomatoes, pomegranate, berries, citrus fruits, walnuts, fatty fish, spices – ginger, garlic, cinnamon and pepper, leafy greens, beets),
- staying hydrated,
- lowering stress exposure – good luck with that one.
OK, what about degenerative changes of the connective tissue?
Histological representation of connective tissue. The connective tissue is in blue color.
This is a tricky one.
The connective tissue is kinda like a glue. Like a cellular glue. It supports different parts of our body and keeps them in shape. We’re talking about our skin, eyes, heart, etc… It also helps other tissues do their job. It is made of many kinds of proteins.
Fat and cartilage are types of connective tissue.
The skin is the biggest organ of the human body. The skin changes constantly, and it changes because of aging or some pathologies. We’re talking about thinning, drying, wrinkling and uneven pigmentation. That comes mostly with aging. We can also talk about biochemical changes, changes in permeability, vascularization and thermoregulation, response to irritants, immune response, repair capacity and response to injury, and neurosensory perception as well as changes at the genome level. (2) This could come with aging and also from pathological reasons.
So, degenerative changes of the connective tissue could happen of multiple reasons, like aging, connective tissue diseases (multiple diseases are put in this categories, and they could be autoimmune or heritable), diseases that develop because of poor lifestyle or diet choices (example for this would be scurvy – a disease that develops because of a lack of vitamin C, but don’t worry, this disease is now very rare).
Early symptoms of mixed connective tissue disease can be:
- General feeling of being unwell. This is such a non – specific symptom, I know. But, if it lasts for more than a week – see a doctor.
- Cold and numb fingers or toes. A bit more specific, but could mean a lot of things. An even more specific symptom would be if the fingers and toes start changing color in response to stress and outside temperature. Like white/discolored → blue →purple. This is called Raynaud Phenomena and is present in all races. You will see patches of skin on your fingers/fingertips that become whit-ish, then blue-ish, then purpl-ish. Doctors can suggest certain tests that would pinpoint the problem. (3) (4) (5)
- Swelling of fingers and hands.
- Muscle and joint pain that lasts for days. (6)
There are many other symptoms, so when in doubt – visiting your doctor is a good idea.
Now, let’s talk about lifestyle!
Are you in?
So, if you’re someone, who is not happy about having a visible cellulite and it bothers you to the point that you wrap yourself in sheets and blankets of clothes, then this post is for you. What the heck should you do?
First and most important: DRINK WATER!
How much water should we drink?
Well, this depends. Are you a male or a female, an adult, a young person or a child? Do you live in the temperate zone or tropical zone?
Are you generally a healthy person or you suffer from conditions like kidney disease, heart disease, liver disease, syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone, uncontrolled diabetes…? Are you taking any medications that make your body retain water (like NSAIDs (Non – steroid anti – inflammatory drugs), antidepressants, some opiates, etc…)?
According to WHO, a healthy 70 kg human living in the temperate zone, should consume minimum 3L or 42.9 ml/kg of water for fluid replacement. For a 70 kg healthy person living in the tropical zone, the minimum water intake for fluid replacement should be about 4.1 L/day, or 58.6 mL/kg or more, depending on how much water the body is losing by sweating and other ways (like exercise, strenuous work, etc). (7) Of course, we’re talking about water from drinks and food all together.
Number 2: Lose the sedentary lifestyle.
Meaning: Get active.
No need everyday.
Yes, I know.
This is why we start with a walk around the house or the building we live in. Or take the stairs instead of the elevator. Unless you live on the 200th floor. Then, maybe 2-3 floors on foot and then take the elevator. Yes? No?
Oh, THAT!? OMG!
Don’t tell me – I have to stop eating everything! Right?
*And we hear something shatter.
Is that your heart?
Then you ask in anger: What the hell am I supposed to eat?!
Nowadays, the food is processed, sugar is everywhere, sodium as well…
Start with adding better (healthier, unprocessed) food and slowly removing overly processed food.
How?! OMG, don’t tell me I need to eat a stupid salad! I mean you said it yourself: Salad doesn’t always mean healthy!
Relax. All you have to do – is change your whole diet and eat boring tasteless food. See – easy!
I’m kidding! I’m kidding! Don’t lose your shit on me, please!
But – adding more veggies to your diet is crucial. Like bell peppers – they are rich in vitamin C, and vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen, which is very important for maintaining the elasticity of our skin.
If you drink too much coffee, which will help you dehydrate your skin and make your cellulite more visible, you need to drink water and rehydrate. So, no need to quit coffee (I know what it means to you, if you drink it with passion, like I do), but drink water as well.
Green tea is also a good idea to incorporate into your diet, because of the antioxidants it contains. They slow collagen degradation. Also, it’s good to remember that caffeine (from coffee) and theophylline (which you find in green tea) are both diuretics. They make your body lose water – good for shedding pounds and losing toxins, bad for hydration. So – careful.
Salmon and other oily fish are tasty and also rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are great for maintaining the structure of our cell membranes.
Spice to improve blood circulation, but too much could affect your stomach and blood pressure. So – careful. Also, cilantro and parsley are great, they detoxify the body and act as diuretics. Not great for dehydrated people, or pregnant women (parsley is dangerous, causes spontaneous abortion – get information at your gyno or doctor about it. For real. No jokes.) or people with heart disease.
Left: Parsley. Right: Cilantro.
Berries – especially Blueberries. Hello, Antioxidants!
Broccoli, spinach, avocado, green apples and leafy greens – rich in antioxidants, magnesium and vitamin C.
Grapefruit – rich in vitamin C and burns fat like crazy. Boosts metabolism. Avoid if you use statins (substances in anti-cholesterol drugs – specifically atorvastatin, simvastatin and lovastatin). Talk to your doctor about it.
Watermelon – it’s 90% water. And contains lycopene, which is an antioxidant.
- Processed foods (processed meat, pre-made meals – like frozen pizza, canned soups, microwave ready foods, crackers, granola, deli meat, salad dressings, canned pasta sauce and cake mixes are good examples).
- White – anything (bread, rice, pasta, crackers …). They contain a huge amounts of carbohydrates, which break down to sugar, which… Well, you know what sugar does to you! Switch to whole – wheat or whole – grain.
- Ketchup, barbeque sauce – loads of sugar in them. Tomato juice or tomato puree is the way to go.
- Alcohol – One gram of alcohol is 7.1 kcal. Just as an information – 1 g of fat is 9 kcal. If not compensated properly for, alcohol will lead to weight gain. Weight gain leads to fat build up. In women, the fat cells and connective tissue below the surface of the skin are arranged vertically; and in men the tissue has a criss-cross structure. This is why cellulite is more visible in women than in men. A general rule of thumb is – 1 alcoholic drink per day for women and maximum of 2 for men.
- Soda = Sugar. Enough said.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is your opinion of yourself. Working on yourself – on your health (emotional, physical and psychological) and on your personality, should be a pleasure and an honor. You are unique in this world. There is no one like you. Your personality, your smile… and your cellulite. Male or female, young or old, skinny or fat (and everyone in between) – accept yourself, take responsibility for your life, celebrate your body and your uniqueness. Do better, be better – as Oprah would say. If you don’t – trust me – no one gives a shit. Make sure that you do – about yourself.
- Leszko M: Cellulite in menopause. Przeglad menopauzalny = Menopause review. 2014. 13,5: 298-304.
- Farage MA, Miller KW, Maibach HI: Degenerative Changes in Aging Skin. In: Farage M., Miller K., Maibach H. (eds) Textbook of Aging Skin. 2017. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg Pages: 15-30.
- Raynaud Phenomenon. Scleroderma Foundation. 2019. Online source: https://www.scleroderma.org/site/DocServer/Raynaud.pdf;jsessionid=00000000.app363a?docID=322&NONCE_TOKEN=39DE260DDF89D0018A76BA24816B000C\ (13.05.2019).
- Agbor VN, Njim T, Aminde LN: Difficulties in diagnosis and treatment of severe secondary Raynaud’s phenomenon in a Cameroonian woman: a case report. Journal of Medical Case Reports. 2016. 10:356.
How to treat Raynaud’s Phenomenon with Chinese Medicine? A blog of discussing Chinese medicine & acupuncture from Dr.Tiejun Tang. Online Source: http://chinesemedicinesalon.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-to-treat-raynauds-phenomenon-with.html (13.05.2019).
- Mixed connective tissue disease. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). 2018. Online Source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mixed-connective-tissue-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20375147 (13.05.2019).
- Grandjean A.: Water Requirements, Impinging Factors, and Recommended Intakes. World Health Organization. 2004. Pages 1-27. Online Source: https://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/dwq/nutwaterrequir.pdf (13.05.2019).