Cellulite

What is it?

The more reactionary end of the medical profession still maintains, rather grumpily, that there is no such thing as cellulite, and that it is a wicked invention of the beauty industry to make us all buy more lotions and potions. Hmm. We say: that’s as maybe, but have you seen our thighs lately?

It is definitely the case that some people are more prone to it than others. It is less common in men than in women, since men tend to be more muscular than women and have a different type of fat distribution. People of all shapes and sizes complain of bumpy fat, though, and you don’t have to be overweight to experience it.

Cellulite is essentially congestion in the fat cells of buttocks, thighs, back of arms, torso side and upper and lower back. It is caused by the build-up of toxins that the body has deposited into tissues away from the vital organs in the body. The result is a rippling effect of the tissues just beneath the surface of the skin.

How to avoid getting it

Boringly, eat well and exercise regularly. According to nutritionist Vicki Edgson, fatty and fried foods, packet snacks that contain transfats, and an over-consumption of cheese, chocolate and other sweet foods are to blame.

Sugars and caffeine, however, are the main culprits, found in most commercially produced foods in one form or another. Ditch those packet snacks, bagels, croissants, and pappy white bread, since they all contain empty calories and an abundance of cellulite-forming additives and sweeteners.

Alcohol, particularly wine, is also one of the main offenders, since it’s full of sugars and yeast. Cut out alcohol completely for 28 days and the toxins will gradually drain away from your thighs. If you can’t bear the thought of life without a bit of gentle self-medication, knock back  at least one glass of mineral water for every glass of wine or unit of spirits you drink.

Edgson is also keen to stress the damaging effects of fizzy drinks, even the diet ones. These contain aspartame and other sweeteners, which the body does not recognise – hence the depositing of residues into fatty tissues. Her motto is simple: if you can’t find it in nature, don’t eat or drink it – your body won’t know how to digest or eliminate it.

Don’t be tempted by waters that have "added flavours", either. They aren’t natural and it takes moments to prepare your own. Just add a slice of lemon or a few sticks of cucumber and some mint to make plain water more interesting. Herbal teas, including ginger and lemon, fennel, nettle, and peppermint, are also excellent, helping to flush out toxins, and reduce cellulite.

How to get rid of it

Everyone’s metabolism is different, so there are no hard and fast rules. Generally, though, if you cut back on alcohol and fizzy drinks you should see an improvement. Eliminate as much junk as you can from your diet, and ingest instead water-rich foods such as green leaves (spinach, watercress, rocket, kale), cucumber, tomatoes, courgettes, celery, endive.

Exercise is vital: you don’t have to be a gym bunny, just find something you enjoy that gets your heart pumping, the metabolism moving and the lymphatic system, the body’s natural filter, draining. A brisk walk, yoga, dynamic pilates: all are ideal for improving tissue and skin tone.

If you’re really serious about shifting it, it might be worth investing in some targeted training. “The best course of action is to opt for exercises that burn as many calories as possible,” advises Steve Mellor, of Freedom2train. “This is best achieved through interval running or interval cycling, where fat burn is high, combined with resistance training (e.g. squats, lunges, weights)”.

Also highly recommended is something like CrossFit classes, which involve short, sharp bursts of high intensity exercise over a short period of time. When compared with a longer session conducted at a steady pace, interval training ensures a greater calorie loss after your workout too - much better in the long term.

A word of caution: however desperate you might be to look good in your bikini, don't try to get the weight off quickly by extreme dieting: this will only serve to weaken the skin's connective tissue and therefore increase the effects of cellulite. The most common misconception is that fats are what give rise to cellulite, when the real culprit is eating an excess of processed carbs. Opt for good, low-GI carbs like sweet potato, quinoa, and bulgar wheat instead.

Best Anti-Cellulite Products and Treatments

Vogel Cynara – Artichoke extract that works as a natural diuretic, and is excellent for helping to tackle stored cellulite

Lichtwer Pharma, Cynara Artichoke, £15.45 (www.victoriahealth.com) - This has been shown to help maintain a healthy digestive system when taken as a daily supplement

Organic Pharmacy Cellulite Tincture – brilliant formula of herbs that support liver and kidney function in flushing out Toxins. Add to your drinking water daily

Pukka Herbs, Guggul Plus, £15.25 (www.victoriahealth.com) - The combination of Trikatu, Triphala, Guggul and other herbs help to stimulate metabolism and eliminate toxins

Pukka Organic Clean Greens – a supergreen powder mix that supports natural detoxification in the body, flushing out Toxins that would otherwise add to the load. Add one teaspoon to your daily smoothie.

Swanson, Gotu Kola, £13.50 (www.victoriahealth.com) - This works on the lymphatic system, helping to eliminate excess fluids and toxins and has been shown to be effective in the treatment of cellulite

Soap & Glory Sit Tight Intense XS Serum, £16.50 (www.boots.com) a powerful firming and toning gel that is applied with a built-in roller-ball, the effects of which continue working throughout the day.

Dry body-brushing: Use upwards movements to stimulate the lymph system (which lives just beneath the surface of the skin) before your morning shower, and not only will you wake yourself up, your skin will feel all soft and zingy and, over time, will improve in texture and appearance. Try the fantastically named Bliss Fatgirlslim Treatment, £127.70, or the Bliss Love Handler Treatment, £122.60 for 60 mins (6 sessions recommended) (www.blissworld.co.uk/spa)

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