A Functional light on Cellulite

Women and Cellulite has been synonymous for so long that we joke about it, we try to beat it, we hate it, we don’t care about it or we just don’t know enough about it. Does cellulite bother you? Do you try many ways to get past it? What does it mean? What do you have to be concerned about? When have you done enough to help and you just need to accept and love your body as it is? 

Blossom Fernandez

Blossom Fernandez is a full time flight attendant , triathlete and part time baker. She’s completed a Half Ironman and is currently training for a Full Ironman which she will complete next year. She works 6 days a week and trains 5 days a week. She doesn’t eat aircraft food and carries home cooked meals to work and is overall a healthy eater based on the nutrition requirements for a triathlete. She’s an amazing woman whom I have had the absolute pleasure working on this article with. It was her passion to share with the world that women should love themselves with cellulite. To honour a woman who has been so brave sharing what could have been a vulnerability with the world, I explored cellulite from a functional lens, just to let you know when you might need caution and when you should embrace your beauty.

What is Cellulite and do you need to be worried at all? While men and women both have cellulite, being a woman does predispose you to cellulite. Cellulite can appear on your legs especially on your upper thighs, your bottom, your abdomen and you arms. What makes you as a woman more prone to cellulite is that women have a vertical distribution of collagen between the dermis and the muscle, which then creates pockets for fat to grow into globules and also space for fluid to retain. These fat and fluid globules then push up against connective tissue creating a dimply appearance. Connective tissue joins skin and muscle, but if it has become rigid rather than flexible, it causes the fat to push up against it. So this means that you can be the most fit athletic woman and still have cellulite.

What could be root causes of the development of Cellulite? We do know that from a Functional Nutrition perspective, cellulite is also only a downstream effect of an upstream imbalance. Well, one of the root causes is definitely the way certain hormones behave in your body. If you are a woman who is still menstruating and your blood sugar is imbalanced and your Estrogen and Progesterone are not in balance, then your tendency to develop cellulite is greater. As you move towards menopause, and Estrogen levels drop, this imbalance can further exacerbate. Further, drop in Estrogen levels can reduce blood towards connective tissue, causing it to become more rigid and tightening over those fat pockets.

If your sex hormones are off balance, most likely your Adrenal hormones are also off balance. This too can cause a build up of cellulite. Also, when Adrenal hormones are off balance, electrolyte balance can be off as well, causing you to retain fluid in the cells, causing bloating and water retention. Much of the causes of Cellulite and fluid retention are common, so it is linked to cellulite buildup in a big way.   

Your Thyroid hormones play another big role in why you develop Cellulite. Just like your sex hormones and adrenal hormones, a sluggish thyroid can also be a root cause of why you develop more cellulite. Since a sluggish thyroid causes your metabolism to be sluggish and causes overall poor circulation and less oxygen to many areas of your body, it can cause cellulite to appear, for the fat globules to get bigger and cellulite to become stubborn.

Lymphatic drainage massage for cellulite

How is your lymphatic system behaving? If your lymphatic system is stagnant, causing lymph fluid to accumulate, or if your liver is overloaded with work, then much of your major detoxification ability is impaired. A system overloaded with toxic buildup stores toxins in fat cells in order to protect you from that buildup of toxic waste. Since cellulite is mostly fat cells, this is an area where toxic waste gets stored. In fact, when there is immense weight loss resistance, it’s a sign that your system might be overloaded with toxic buildup. In fact, if your lymphatic system is not behaving very well, there could be low grade chronic inflammation as well. 

When it comes to actual lab ranges and your lipid panel, they can give big clues to your Cellulite. Definitely if your diet is high in starch, sugar, processed food and bad fats, and your lipid panel markers are off the charts, it can be a cause for concern. Not only does this put you at risk for many conditions of inflammation from insulin resistance, metabolic disorder, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it also overloads other systems in your body, especially your organs of detoxification. It also tells you about why cellulite is building up in your body, and where you could make changes in your diet and lifestyle.

Finally, when it comes to root causes of Cellulite, Collagen breakdown is a big cause. The reasons why Collagen might breakdown are many. A diet itself poor in collagen can be the reason. Inadequate protein, poor levels of Zinc, deficient Vitamin C and any other major nutritional deficiencies can all cause a breakdown of the collagen in your body. When Collagen breaks down, it directly impacts connective tissue, making it less flexible, and further aggravating the appearance of cellulite.

Now that we’ve gone into the depth of what can cause your cellulite, let’s go into when have you done enough for your body and health. 

  1. If you’ve addressed your diet and reduced your sugars and bad fats and increased your proteins, you’re definitely on the right path. It’s important that you see that you get adequate complex carbohydrates, quality proteins, good fats, a rich variety of vitamins and minerals and hydration.
  2. See that you are free of digestive issues, which themselves can cause other systems to go off balance. 
  3. See that your lymphatic system is not stagnant. If you are someone who is passionate about exercise like running, walking, yoga, swimming or cycling, then you’re definitely allowing for lymphatic movement. Specific massages can also move the lymph around and help breakdown stubborn cellulite. If you are someone who is averse to exercise, them this can cause stagnation and inflammation, and be a root cause for cellulite to build up and also
  4. If your lipid markers on your labs are off range, it is a sign that cellulite can buildup. If you’ve supported your diet in a big way and added forms of exercise that support your body’s capabilities without stressing your adrenals, and this has helped your lipid markers and they are all within range, then you do not have to look at cellulite as cause for alarm.
  5. Nutritional deficiencies can be caused by any restrictive diet. If your diet is restrictive in any way, culturally or by choice, by lack of knowledge or by inability to get certain nutrients, it can lead to various systems going off balance and causing more chaos. If your diet is restrictive in any way, there might be certain nutrients you require apart from your diet

Exercise can help root address root causes of cellulite

So what if you are someone who has a fantastic diet full of the best carbohydrates, high quality proteins, excellent fats and is rich in vitamins and minerals, if you’rs someone who is always looking to exercise as a non negotiable in your life, if your sleep is restorative allowing all systems to recover, if your endocrine system is working in balance and equilibrium, and you’ve done everything to support yourself? What if all your labs are within range and you have no health challenges and you still have cellulite? What if you’ve done everything to support and it’s still visible? Well, don’t allow anyone to tell you that your body is not beautiful. Don’t look at your body with shame, anger or frustration, for then you’re sending powerful messages to your brain to cause something else to go off balance. Don’t allow even the closest person to you shame you or make you feel less beautiful. You know that your body is healthy. The only time you need to worry about your cellulite, is if you’ve gone through all the root causes I’ve talked about and something is just not right. If not, celebrate your beautiful curves!

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3 Comments

  1. The ending of this blogpost is heartwarming and beautifully put in words. Thanks for sharing this.

    • So glad you liked it Emma!

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