What Is Cellulite?
The dimpled and lumpy appearance on the skin, called cellulite, affects more than 85% of postpubertal women. It is also called orange-peel skin due to its texture. Cellulite occurs when the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat pushes through the layers of connective tissue. Due to the difference in fat distribution, muscles, and connective tissue, cellulite is more common in women than men.
Fat tissue, also called adipose tissue, is found just beneath the skin. It is also found around the internal organs, where it has a protective role to play. In cellulite, the adipocytes (fat cells) present in the adipose tissue increase in size, making the skin look lumpier.
Based on the cellulite severity scale, there are three grades of cellulite:
Grade 1 is scored from 1-4, and the skin has an orange-peel-like appearance.
Grade 2 is scored from 5-9, and the skin has medium-depth depressions with a cottage cheese-like appearance.
Grade 3 is when the score is ten and higher. The skin has deep depressions with a mattress-like appearance.
Genetics and Cellulite Risk
Understanding the genetic basis of cellulite formation can give useful insights into its pathophysiology. A study revealed that HIF1A and ACE genes are associated with cellulite risk.
How Does the HIF1A Gene Influence Cellulite Risk?
The HIF1A gene contains instructions for the production of hypoxia-inducing factor 1 protein. Hypoxia is a condition where the body or a particular region of the body is deprived of oxygen. The expression of this gene is stimulated by the expansion of fat tissues following a high-calorie intake. Under normal conditions, HIF1A rapidly degrades, which allows an adequate flow of oxygen to fatty (adipose) tissues. However, during hypoxic conditions, there is an increase in this molecule, which results in reduced oxygen flow to fatty tissues. This leads to an increased risk of cellulite. It has also been found that HIF1A is increased in obese people and is positively correlated with BMI.
rs11549465 and Cellulite Risk
rs11549465 is an SNP in the HIF1A gene. The T allele acts as a ‘protective factor’ and reduces the risk of cellulite formation.
This study also identified an ‘indel’ polymorphism (rs1799752)in the ACE gene associated with cellulite risk.
Indel polymorphisms are the insertion or deletion of a portion of a particular gene. Indel polymorphisms are not as common as SNPs but are nevertheless present across the genome. It is annotated as I/D for insertion or deletion, respectively.
Non-genetic Factors That Influence Cellulite Risk
- As previously mentioned, women are more prone to cellulite than men. So sex itself becomes a risk factor.
- Diet: Fatty foods and carbohydrates-rich food are major contributors to cellulite. Foods high in sodium lead to water retention, which again contributes to cellulite.
- Hormones: Estrogen, prolactin, insulin, and thyroid hormones all play a role in cellulite development. Estrogen stimulates an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase which is responsible for fat growth.
- Insulin is released whenever carbohydrates are consumed to metabolize glucose. Ideally, muscles recognize the insulin secreted and redirect the glucose from food to be converted into energy. However, in many cases, especially in people without any physical activity, the glucose is redirected to the fat cells to be stored as triglycerides. This causes the fat cells to appear more prominent. Hence, a lack of physical activity also is a cause of cellulite formation.
Recommendations For Cellulite Management
Exercises For Cellulite Prevention
Exercises that target the thighs, buttocks, and hip areas can also help your battle against cellulite. Some effective workouts include:
- Curtsy lunges
Nutritional Tips To Reduce Cellulite
The bigger fat cells, aside from contributing to cellulite, also slow down your metabolism and hamper your whole body by constricting the blood vessels. Excluding certain foods from your diet and including certain others may just help you peel that orange skin off!
Foods to avoid
-Being high in sodium, cheese is so not your best friend when it comes to cellulite. Its water retention property can make cellulite more visible.
-Cereals containing white flour are processed as sugar in the body. Moreover, when you consume cereal along with milk, the extra estrogen can worsen your cellulite.
- Alcohol’s dehydrating property can deteriorate the collagen in your skin.
-Processed food has products like sugar and fat added to them for storage purposes. These additives often have inflammatory properties.
- The sugar in soda and other canned drinks can slow down the production of collagen.
The anti-cellulite diet
- Diuretic foods like cranberries, fennel, and asparagus reduce water retention.
- Fruits like kiwis and oranges can take care of your daily dosage of vitamin C and boosts collagen production.
- Flax seeds, broccoli, and cauliflowers are all hormone modulators that will prevent the excess secretion of estrogen.
- The Omega 3 acids in walnuts help moisturize your skin.
- The antioxidants in whole grain shoo away the cellulite-causing toxins.
- Green tea has a lot of fat-busting ingredients that can help with weight loss.
- Vitamin E, potassium, zinc, and vitamin B6 in sunflower seeds dehydrate the fatty deposits and also help repair the connective tissues.
- Cayenne pepper can help improve circulation. It warms up the body internally, thereby boosting the blood flow.
- Eggs are a rich source of protein and lecithin, which helps build collagen and elastin.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic that improves circulation and flushes the toxins out.
Home-remedies for Cellulite
- Dry brushing of your skin can improve the blood flow to the targeted area, thereby increasing the amount of oxygen delivered. It also enables the release of oxygen, which further aids digestion.
- Foam rolling acts as a lymphatic massage, which again promotes circulation.
- Coffee scrub: The caffeine in the coffee helps in the tightening of the skin. Exfoliation also stimulates good blood flow.
- Seaweed is another powerful detox that can help you treat cellulite. It is rich in iodine, which helps in maintaining your hormonal health.
- Massaging coconut oil on your skin can help loosen the fatty deposits.
- Hydration Continuously hydrating yourself with water or other unsweetened liquids can fight inflammation and reduce the appearance of cellulite.
- Cellulite refers to the dimpled-looking skin mostly seen in the thigh regions. It occurs when the fat cells just under your skin try to push through.
- Cellulite is more common in women than men, with up to 85% - 90% of women suffering from it at some point.
- Cellulite can be caused due to hormonal, dietary, lifestyle, and genetic factors. A diet rich in carbohydrates and sodium can contribute to cellulite. Estrogen, prolactin, and thyroid hormones are all known to cause cellulite development.
- The HIF1A and ACE genes have been well-researched in their role in cellulite development.
- Dietary and lifestyle modifications can help reduce your cellulite risk. Fruits, walnuts, green tea, flax seeds, and cayenne pepper can help improve circulation, thereby improving the appearance of cellulite.
- Exercises that target the thighs, buttocks, and hip areas can help prevent cellulite.