Five Natural Ways to Prevent Cellulite & Six Myths Busted
Cellulite: it’s a collective, niggling insecurity we all share, and one that’s driving an estimated $750-million-a-year “treatment” industry worldwide. With that in mind, Cosmo spoke to two leading medical experts – Dr Jeremy Cumpston from Ageless Clinics, and nutritionist and Karen Fischer, author of Younger Skin in 28 Days – to once and for all set the record straight on cellulite.
Six big fat myths totally busted so you can stop beating yourself up…
Losing weight on its own isn’t a definitive cure. “When you lose weight, it reduces the pressure of fat pushing through the connective tissue and reduces fluid, which could improve the appearance of cellulite,” explains Dr Cumpston.
But fans of fad diets beware: “Losing weight and then gaining it back can make your fat cells expand and contract, making the appearance of cellulite worse. So anyone who’s attempting to treat cellulite should concentrate on healthy eating rather than dieting,” he adds.
If this were the case, Cameron Diaz wouldn’t be getting a hard time with the paparazzi snapping her every time she goes to the beach. To put things simply, “Cellulite is caused by fat cells underneath the skin, which push through connective tissue causing that dimply, cottage-cheese effect,” Dr Cumpston says.
“Your susceptibility to cellulite depends on a number of things, including your genetics, which determine the number of fat cells you’re born with as well as the thickness of your skin. In people with thicker skin, cellulite may be present but not immediately visible. Weight gain can make cellulite more noticeable, but cellulite still happens to lean people.”
Gym junkies, take note: exercising alone won’t banish cellulite. Instead, Fischer recommends combining a balanced diet that’s high in calcium with high-impact exercise in order to get the blood flowing and help flush out any nasty toxins. See Karen's cellulite-prevention tips next.
Eating your greens can help, but it’s not a magic cure. “A healthy diet rich
in root vegetables, whole grains, fish and beans, and a calcium supplement, can reduce the appearance of cellulite,” says Fischer.
Calcium tightens the skin, helping stop fat cells from protruding through and lessening that orange-peel texture – but it won’t make cellulite go away completely, you also need to exercise and cut down on salt as it causes fluid retention. As for drinking water? “Keeping hydrated helps maintain the appearance of your skin, but it won’t ‘get rid’ of cellulite,” says Dr Cumpston.
While you can reduce your cellulite, getting rid of it altogether is simply not gonna happen – no matter how much moolah you’re willing to spend. “Cosmetic treatments such as liposuction, laser therapy and other fat-killing systems such as CoolSculpting (a procedure in which fat cells are frozen to the point that they die) are effective in permanently removing fat cells,” Dr Cumpston says. “But they are invasive, carry a risk of infection and scar tissue formation – which can actually increase uneven skin appearance – and can sometimes cause changes in skin colour.”
While this is mostly true, guys can get dimply too, says Fischer. “Around five percent of men and up to 90 percent of women get cellulite. Women naturally have more fat cells, and our skin is thinner, meaning we’re more susceptible to it.” Vitamin C, copper, zinc, iron, manganese and silicon strengthen collagen fibres, which prevents the bulging. So eat more nuts, fish, oats and papaya.
Steer clear of…
✽ Sugar This damages collagen and elastin fibres, making the skin thinner. Thin skin = more cellulite.
✽ Too much dairy Dairy products form mucus, so they can make the body’s lymphatic (waste removal) system more sluggish.
✽ Sun damage UV rays cause damage to tissue, collagen and elastin – which leads to cellulite.
✽ Yo-yo dieting Instead, aim for a healthy, kilojoule-controlled diet with plenty of greens, antioxidant-rich fruit, lean protein and omega-3 oils. This will keep fat in check and provide support to keep skin thick and supple.
For Five Natural Ways to Prevent Cellulite see Karen's tips below...
This article was original printed in COSMOPOLITAN Magazine and has been updated in February 2017.
Five natural ways to prevent cellulite
It takes about 8 to 12 weeks for stubborn cellulite to shift. Team your health program with these five natural solutions for firm and toned skin:
1. Avoid dairy products
You may be surprised to find that dairy products contain hormones. They are not added by manufacturers, the hormones are made by the lactating cow and pass through the milk. These hormones include prolactin, progesterone, corticoids, androgens, and estrogen which is linked to the formation of cellulite (Hassan, 2015).
Cellulite is not the only concern... According to The Harvard University publication 'The Harvard Gazette', "Hormones in milk can be dangerous". A scientist from the Harvard School of Public Health said studies show that about 60–80% of estrogens we consume via our Western diets come from milk and dairy products, and dairy product consumption may increase the risk of cancer due to the high estrogen content (Harvard; Hartmann, 1998).
Karen says "I was surprised to find estrogens from dairy products are more prevalent in our diets than the plant estrogens. Soy is demonised by dairy drinkers thanks to anti-soy campaigns about the plant estrogens in soy. Dairy products are a major source of estrogens and knowing this helps consumers to make informed choices about milk."
Why does estrogen and dairy cause cellulite?
There is evidence that cellulite is caused by hormones, in particular the female hormone estrogen. According to researchers in Brazil, estrogen stimulates the formation of fat and inhibits lipolysis, which is the breakdown of fats, resulting in the swelling of fat cells. When fat cells swell, dimpling can occur. They concluded "this partially explains the greater prevalence of cellulite in women, as estrogen is their dominating hormone". (Hexsel 2011)
Does dairy contribute to cellulite?
Karen said "In my early 20s I stopped eating dairy products and my cellulite completely cleared up, with no effort or exercise. It took about 5 weeks. Now I am older it's not quite as easy - I also have to take a calcium supplement and exercises to stay cellulite-free." Here are more of Karen's tips:
2. Protein powder smoothie for breakfast (recipe below)
When cellulite occurs, connective tissue fibres become disorganised and fat cells protrude into the dermis layer of the skin. Protein powder contains all of the essential amino acids needed for proper connective tissue formation in the skin, in an easy to assimilate powder that the body easily absorbs.
The key here is to avoid whey/dairy protein powders and avoid flavoured and sweetened varieties, as sugar is stored in your fat cells and can cause them to swell and deform. Refer to Karen's protein smoothie recipe, below.
3. Reduce your salt intake
The word "reduce" rather than "avoid" is used for good reason. You need some salt in your diet. While avoiding salt completely can promote toned thighs, you will end up with crippling foot cramps or leg cramps so reduce sodium, not avoid.
Why does salt contribute to cellulite?
The sodium in salt causes fluid retention which contributes to the appearance of cellulite. Sodium also competes with calcium for absorption, and the result can be low calcium levels. And calcium deficiency triggers the first signs of cellulite.
4. Calcium is the firm and tone queen
If you want to tone your tush, calcium could be your new best friend. While magnesium is touted as "The Great Relaxer", relaxing muscles, calcium has the opposite effect - it "tones and firms".
Karen says "Look for calcium that is pure, with no additives, hidden sugar or flavourings such as Calcium Matrix PM. For adults take about 600 to 750mg daily to tone your skin."
5. Exercise frequently
For many of us exercise is often not enough to prevent cellulite. So we need to team exercise with calcium, protein powder and by going dairy-free and by reducing salt. The result is firmer skin and a more toned body that is cellulite-free.
Exercise also creates feel good chemicals in the body. So you will not only look better, you will feel happier no matter what your thighs look like.
Try this 5-step anti-cellulite routine for 8-12 weeks and watch your thighs transform into firm, toned and lump-free pins. It will take effort (ie getting up earlier each day for a soft sand jog or walk), but it does work. Try Karen's anti-cellulite smoothie recipe:
Anti-Cellulite Smoothie Recipe
This is my favourite smoothie which I have twice a day. I have one when I wake up and exercise and another in the afternoon. Bananas are one of the few alkalising fruits and it provides sweetness and potassium which helps to balance sodium in the body. This recipe is also eczema-friendly. Optional sweetener: try rice malt syrup as it's alkalising or real maple syrup as it's free of salicylates.
1 small banana (or 1/2 large), peeled, chopped and pre-frozen overnight
1 cup rice milk (or non-dairy milk of choice)
1 heaped tablespoon pea protein (such as Coles brand)
1-2 scoops Calcium Matrix PM (2 scoops per day)
1-2 teaspoons carob powder (optional) (Source Bulk Foods)
Place all of the ingredients into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Drink this once or twice daily, especially before or after exercise. I often add 2 teaspoons of carob powder to give it a chocolate taste (without the caffeine).
If you would like to sweeten this drink further try rice malt syrup (rice syrup) or pure maple syrup.
Karen says "I also add Skin Friend AM to my routine to provide collagen firming zinc, vitamin C, plus B vitamins and other nutrients for energy production to help me recover from exercise." See product information, below.
SHOP THE STORY
Hexsel, D. and Soirefmann, M., 2011, September. Cosmeceuticals for cellulite. In Seminars in cutaneous medicine and surgery (Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 167-170). Frontline Medical Communications.
Malekinejad, H. and Rezabakhsh, A., 2015. Hormones in Dairy Foods and Their Impact on Public Health-A Narrative Review Article. Iranian journal of public health, 44(6), p.742.
Hartmann S, Lacorn M, Steinhart H. (1998). Natural occurrence of steroid hormones in food. Food Chemistry, 62 ( 1): 7–20.
Harvard Gazette, Ireland, C., 2006, Hormones in Milk can be Dangerous.