Want to know why you have cellulite and the keys to correcting it?
There’s a ton of misinformation and scams on the internet around what cellulite is and how to fix it, so first of all, let’s get clear on what cellulite actually is…
Cellulite is the result of a messed up structural grid that holds the skin and the underlying fat layer in place.
Keep that in mind, because there’s a ton of people out there who want to convince you that cellulite is some sort of transient allergic reaction that you can get rid of once you stop eating gluten or dairy or whatever the dietary villain du jour is.
It isn’t–it is a very real problem with the structural integrity of the skin and fat cells.
Cellulite has several issues going on:
- abnormal structure of connective tissue collagen and elastin (they lack structural integrity)
- alterations and enlargement of the fat layer
- changes in blood circulation to the area
What causes cellulite?
There are numerous factors that can contribute to cellulite, but the basic general thing that’s causing it is: 1) Genetic and hormonal factors that determine one’s overall propensity to get cellulite (for example, it’s FAR more common in women than men, mostly due to hormonal differences between the sexes), 2) Diet, obesity, medication, and other lifestyle factors then act on one’s genetic/hormonal susceptibility.
Since we can’t control our genetics, let’s focus on the hormonal and lifestyle components of cellulite. The major lifestyle-related factors that cause cellulite are:
- Estrogen dominance (high estrogen, low progesterone) – many things can contribute to this, such as birth control pills, menopause, pregnancy, PMS, environmental estrogens from pesticide exposure and from BPA from plastics and canned foods. Estrogen (specifically E2) increases fat accumulation in butt, hips, and thighs–the areas most typically affected by cellulite. And it hinders the ability of the connective tissue cells to do their job properly.
- hypothyroidism – thyroid hormone produces important compounds to maintain structural integrity of connective tissue in the skin. It also keeps metabolism high and prevents rapid fat gain, which another cause of cellulite (see below).
- insulin resistance / diabetes – Can cause accumulation of glycosaminoglycans in the cells which draws water into the cell and damages the connective tissue integrity.
- fat gain – the more fat you have and the faster it accumulates, the more it tends to damage the structural integrity of the connective tissue and the more likely it is that bumps and cellulite will appear.
- stress – Stress, exogenous stress hormones (like corticosteroids) will basically cause similar effects as low thyroid levels, and prevent adequate repair of skin connective tissue.
- sitting – sitting and lack of movement is a major cause of insulin resistance and impedes blood circulation to the tissues most prone to cellulite development
- Micronutrient deficiencies – Zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamin A are all critically important micronutrients for the prevention of cellulite
- smoking and drinking – Both of these can impair blood vessel health and circulation to the tissues. And poor circulation predisposes to cellulite formation.
What can you do to fix it?
There are several physical treatments that have shown promise in treating cellulite:
- Iontophoresis: Applies a current on the skin which affects circulation and cellular metabolism.
- Acoustic wave therapy / ultrasound: Uses high frequency vibration to increase circulation and to increase permeability of the skin to topical treatments.
- Thermotherapy: Heat! Good old fashioned heat will increase circulation to the area, helping to repair the tissues. But don’t go too hot! Overheating the tissues may actually be counterproductive.
- Massage therapy and lymphatic drainage: Questionable efficacy, but possibly can help via increased circulation.
- Laser therapy: Low-level laser therapy may work by both liberating fat from fat cells (increasing localized fat burning) and by increasing circulation.
There are also several nutrients that have shown promise:
- Methylxanthines (theobromine, theophylline, aminophylline, caffeine) applied topically may help increase circulation and fat release from the area.
- Horse chestnut, gotu kola, and rutin may have beneficial effects on blood vessel health and circulation when ingested orally.
- Silica (found in most fruits and veggies, but especially celery, carrots, and potato) helps improve connective tissue quality and protect it from damage.
- Gelatin is the same stuff as connective tissue, and there is some research that ingesting it can improve connective tissue quality.
- Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate) may be the most powerful of all. A study by Fink et al. used a program of low level laser therapy combined with topical vitamin A found over 50% reduction in cellulite in just 3 months on the protocol! We’re not talking about minor subtle improvement…we’re talking massive visible effects!
So if you have cellulite, don’t resign yourself to having it forever! It can be minimized and reversed (and at the very least, you can certainly prevent any worsening of it).
I developed a special cellulite- and fat-reducing protocol that uses several of these methods in my Metabolism Supercharge program. If you’re struggling with cellulite (and perhaps other issues like being overweight and having poor energy), I strongly encourage you to get on that program.
Cellulite can be treated effectively! If you combine the right topical treatments with the foundation of correcting hormonal issues like low thyroid and low progesterone using nutrition and lifestyle strategies, and you have a potent mix of stuff to get serious results to reduce/eliminate your cellulite.
- Di Salvo RM. Controlling the appearance of cellulite: surveying the cellulite reduction effectiveness of xanthines, silanes, CoA, 1-carnitine and herbal extracts. Cosm Toil 1995; 110: 50–59.
- Fink JS, Mermelstein H, Thomas A, Trow R. Use of intense pulsed light and a retinyl-based cream as a potential treatment for cellulite: a pilot study. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2006 Sep;5(3):254-62.
- Hausen BM. Centella asiatica (indian pennywort), an effective therapeutic but a weak Sensitizer. Contact Dermatitis. 1993; 29(4): 175–179.
- Kligman AM, Pagnoni A, Stoudemayer T. Topical retinol improves cellulite. Journal of Dermatological Treatment. 1999; 10: 119–25
- Lotti T, Ghersetich I, Grappone C, Dini G. Proteoglycans in so-called cellulite. Int J Dermatol. 1990 May;29(4):272-4.
- Rosenbaum M, Prieto V, Hellmer J, Boschmann M, Krueger J, Leibel RL, Ship AG. An exploratory investigation of the morphology and biochemistry of cellulite. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1998 Jun;101(7):1934-9.
- Turati F, Pelucchi C, Marzatico F, Ferraroni M, Decarli A, Gallus S, La Vecchia C, Galeone C. Efficacy of cosmetic products in cellulite reduction: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2013 Jun 14.