Cellulitis Or Panniculopathy?
Cellulite is a condition that affects the dermis, the layer of skin located under the epidermis, and mainly develops on the thighs, buttocks and upper abdomen. It most frequently affects women of childbearing age, regardless of whether they are overweight or obese, and rarely affects men, even if, in some cases, it can appear (always on the stomach, thighs and buttocks) if there is a decrease in levels of androgens (male sex hormones).
- However, the term “cellulite” is often used loosely. “Cellulite” identifies an inflammation, while the most appropriate denomination is “radiculopathy “. More than an inflammation, it is, in fact, an alteration of the subcutaneous panniculus favored by a stagnation of the blood and lymphatic vessels.
- The evolution of this “radiculopathy” passes through an increase in interstitial fluids, i.e. the fluids found between tissue cells and which have the function of mediating exchanges with the blood vessels, a lack of oxygen in the adipose cells (fat ), a dissociation of the subcutaneous septa, a reduction in elasticity and thickness of the skin and, finally, a state of scarring fibrosis.
- The consequence is the typical changes of the orange peel skin, the decrease in skin temperature, stretch marks and pain or discomfort (increased sensitivity) to pressure.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Cellulite
The cause of cellulite is still being researched today, and it is probably due to a combination of factors, such as:
- genetic inheritance ;
- hormonal alterations ;
- alterations of the venous and lymphatic microcirculation ;
- a bad diet ;
- Lack of physical activity (or no physical activity).
Considering the importance of venous and lymphatic stagnation in favoring the appearance of cellulite, the risk factors and habits that should be avoided to limit the evolution of cellulite are:
- excessive intake of salt, alcohol and sugary foods ;
- The accumulation of fat (adipose tissue) under the skin. Do you know how much fat you have in your body? Calculate your percentage of fat mass, lean mass and BMI immediately and for free here ;
- Smoking, as it causes tissue hypoxia, i.e. lack of oxygen in the tissues ;
- A sedentary lifestyle as it favors lymphatic stasis.
Cellulite And Weight
A healthy and balanced diet and regular physical activity do not prevent the development of cellulite with certainty, so much so that the effect of a low-calorie diet on radiculopathy is still the subject of debate. However, these are conditions that certainly help to counteract the blemish.
It has been observed that weight loss is rarely followed by cellulite reduction.
- It is well known that after a significant weight loss, the skin increases its relaxation (laxity), which can have a negative effect, showing even more clearly the unsightly dimples of cellulite. For this reason, weight loss should be gradual and not too rapid in order not to favor skin tissue laxity.
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Physical Activity And Cellulite
It must be said clearly that cellulite can never be eliminated. However, combining a healthy diet and exercise will reduce the layer of fat under the skin, making cellulite less noticeable. Physical activity practiced continuously helps avoid the accumulation of fatty tissue and improves muscle tone.
Specific exercises to improve leg circulation help eliminate waste and fluid retention and keep the skin and connective tissue healthier. It should also be emphasized that intense sport produces lactic acid, and by stopping sporting activity, it is much more probable that radiculopathy is found. Activity in seawater is one of the best ways to combat orange peel: we talked about it in this article.
Foods To Avoid For Cellulite
The main mistake when you have cellulite is often drinking too little water during the day. Proper hydration requires, in fact, the consumption of 8-10 glasses of water per day (which correspond to approximately 1.5-2 L). Some argue that oligomineral waters contrast cellulite better than mineralized ones: this is fake news since what is important is the daily volume of water consumed rather than its quality. Consequently, it is good to avoid foods that cause water retention, favoring lymphatic and venous stagnation, such as:
- Salt. It is advisable to minimize the salt added to dishes to flavor them (e.g. in pasta cooking water, salads, vegetables, etc.) since it is an essential source of sodium, an element with a primary role in the distribution of body fluids ( an excess of it favors stagnation of fluids ). Instead of salt, you can use spices or a teaspoon of grated Grana Padano DOP to flavor first courses and vegetable purées. This cheese contains the highest amount of calcium among those commonly consumed. It also provides good proteins with high biological value (with nine essential amino acids), health-critical vitamins like B2 and B12, and antioxidants like vitamin A, zinc, and selenium. A mixed salad with 40-50 g of Grana Padano DOP flakes, for example, is a single nutritious and tasty dish, even without adding salt.
- Pickled foods as they are incredibly high in salt.
- Due to their high sodium content required for storage, legumes, peeled tomatoes, soups, meats, tuna and other canned foods.
- Sausages such as sausage, salami, coppa, etc., are the same concept as vacuum-packed smoked fish due to their high salt content expected in manufacturing.
- Packaged snacks, margarine, spreadable creams, hamburgers and fries or other foods typical of fast-food (junk food), pizzas and focaccias, etc., because these foods may contain high concentrations of saturated trans fats, which are harmful to vascular tissue and blood circulation.
- Added sugar (white or brown, honey, syrups, etc.), both the one present in industrial and artisanal foods and drinks and the one added to home-made foods: cola, cold teas, fruit juices and sweetened beverages in the genre, biscuits, desserts, candies, flavoured syrups, milk chocolate, etc. These foods have a high content of simple sugars, which, if consumed excessively, can lead to weight gain. It is good to get used to not drinking sugary drinks and not adding sugar to your tea or coffee during the day. In summer, beware of slushes and ice lollies: they seem to quench your thirst on the spot, but in reality, they increase it, increasing the need for water.
- Alcohol, including wine and beer, is high in empty calories.
A healthy diet can improve skin and connective tissue, making them stronger, healthier and more elastic. Staying hydrated and eating well will avoid water retention, exacerbating cellulite appearance.
It must immediately be said that there is no real anti-cellulite diet. Still, if we wanted to define a suitable one, we could use three keywords to describe its cornerstones: hydration, variety, and freshness.
To fight cellulite you need to consume:
- Water, at least 1.5-2 liters a day. As mentioned in the previous chapters, hydration is essential for adequately functioning the vascular system. Many think that by drinking more, liquids are retained more when there is a water retention problem; on the other hand, it is thanks to correct daily hydration that we stimulate the physiological mechanism of eliminating toxins. To achieve proper hydration, you can also drink tea, herbal teas, unsweetened infusions, or even 1-2 cups of bitter coffee a day since caffeine increases diuresis.
- Raw or cooked vegetables, at least one portion at each meal. Prefer peppers and tomatoes (basic), radicchio, lettuce, etc., as rich in vitamin C, red-orange vegetables (such as pumpkin and carrots) for their high beta-carotene content and purple-blue vegetables for anthocyanins and bioflavonoids. Broccoli, on the other hand, contains alpha lipoic acid which helps keep the collagen of skin tissues elastic and toned and fights cellulite. At the same time, asparagus’s excellent diuretic properties are recognized due to its high water content. Other vegetables rich in water, such as fennel, artichokes, cucumbers or celery, promote diuresis and can be consumed as extracts. Be careful not to season the vegetables with too much salt, oil or other fatty sauces.
- Fruit. Consume three portions a day, preferably with the peel (if edible and well-washed). Give preference to red-blue fruits, such as blueberries, currants and blackberries, rich in anthocyanins (beneficial for microcirculation), or pineapple because, thanks to the content of bromelain. This enzyme carries out an anti-inflammatory action and promotes the elimination of liquids. Oranges, tangerines, lemons and citrus fruits in general (in particular pink grapefruit because it is also low in calories), or strawberries and kiwis, because they are fruits rich in vitamin C. Melon and pomegranate are also recommended since they contain excellent doses of beta-carotene, finally watermelon which is very rich in water. The important thing is to stay under 450-500 g of fruit per day to avoid excess fructose, the fruit sugar.
- Fish is an essential source of iodine and Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fats improve the elasticity of cell membranes, including vascular ones, and have antithrombotic effects on microcirculation. I prefer the blue one, small in size and from our seas, even 3-4 times a week.
- White meats like chicken and turkey may be marinated in lemon.
- Dried nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, and seeds for their high Omega 3 content.
- Spices, aromatic herbs, lemon juice or low-acid vinegar to flavor food by reducing salt consumption. Chili pepper, thanks to the presence of capsaicin, improves peripheral circulation.
- Wholemeal foods such as brown rice, pasta, bread, etc., reduce the glycemic peak. As for bread, I prefer the Tuscan type (without or with a bit of salt).
Supplements For Circulation And Cellulite
Some supplements (with birch, hawkweed, dandelion, bromelain, or caffeine-based extracts) can be helpful to adjuvants in a global treatment process for cellulite due to their natural draining/diuretic and lipolytic action. However, if taken alone, the effectiveness, unfortunately, remains limited.
Having an edematous origin, i.e. retention of liquids in the superficial adipose tissue, cellulite responds in the initial phase to all therapies capable of promoting lymphatic circulation and emptying liquid stagnations in the limbs. It is also possible to intervene with seaweed-based supplements rich in iodine, which have an action similar to levothyroxine, a drug used to treat radiculopathy.
However, excessive and prolonged use of these supplements could cause problems for thyroid sufferers. Therefore, they should only be used if prescribed by a doctor. In any case, the treatment of cellulite must always be personalized, and the intake of supplements must be agreed upon in advance with your doctor.