Why do we have cellulite and how do hormones influence its appearance?
Cellulite is a skin condition that affects up to 90% of women all over the world, no matter what the age, height, weight etc. Yes, it affects us no matter what are shape or size is! That's the biggest bummer! So you can have a nice slim body frame, but you can also have some not so nice cellulite.
It's good to mention that men also get cellulite, but us women are the most affected. We'll see why this happens and what we can do do get rid of it or at least minimize it.
Sure, some men are affected by it, but for the most part, it affects women, often to the point of being fearful of wearing shorts or a bathing suit, for fear of revealing the dimply appearance of her butt, thighs or mid-section. To be clear, women of all shapes and sizes can have cellulite, even many of the most admired, fit and slim actresses and models have cellulite, but of course the magic of photoshop can work wonders.
So why is it that women are the ones who primarily deal with cellulite? Is there anything we can do to prevent it or minimize its appearance?
What Is Cellulite?
Cellulite consists of several changes in your skin’s normal structure, and that combined with poor circulation (fatty areas of cellulite tend to have poor blood circulation and are cold to the touch) has a major impact.
If you have cellulite, there isn’t much you can do to get rid of it, but what you can do is probably reduce its appearance if you want to achieve a smoother look.
Women get cellulite no matter the age
By this I meant that even babies can get cellulite. Yes, genes do play a huge role in the appearance of cellulite. How does cellulite develop and what is its structure?
Fat cells develop beginning in the womb, continues until the child is 18 months old and it starts again during puberty. Unfortunately, in today’s society, with all the junk food and excessive calories that quickly add up and we're regularly consuming, most of us are in a constant state of fat cell growth and potentially fat cell creation.
Female hormones and cellulite
Our battle with cellulite starts at an early age, during puberty. A woman’s femoral region (the back of the upper thigh) is very responsive to her very unique hormonal profile.
Estrogen increases the activity of thigh fat cells to anti lipolytic alpha receptors, which are the ones that could prevent fat breakdown and fat loss. It also stimulates an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase (LPL) responsible for the growth of the fat. This can occur in the butt area and abdomen as well, but is usually localized to the back of the legs.
Prolactin (the hormone for breast-feeding) also makes cellulite more visible because it increases water retention in the fatty tissue, which makes each fat cell look even larger and lumpier. Isn't that great?
The conclusion is pretty clear, cellulite is going to affects us in some stage of our life: puberty and pregnancy.
Insulin plays a role in the appearance of cellulite
One of the main influences on how our skin looks and how much cellulite we have is the blood glucose-regulating hormone insulin. Whenever you eat a carbohydrate-rich food or beverage, your body releases insulin to manage the glucose (from carbs) entering your bloodstream. In an ideal world, your muscle cells recognize this insulin and use it to invite circulating glucose into muscle cells to be burned for energy or stored for later use.
But given that we're not living in a perfect world, in the case of many women today, especially those who don't exercise regularly, insulin sends the carbs to fat cells to be turned into fatty acids and stored as triglycerides (called lipogenesis). This makes fat cells in the lamellar layer bigger, causing fat cells in the areolar layer to be squished out and become more visible.
As you can see, having a high carb diet and leading a sedentary lifestyle will induce fat cell growth. The good news is that you can balance your diet with a healthy mix of carbohydrates, proteins and fats to reduce insulin concentrations. Exercise also has an insulin-lowering effect.
In the second part we're going to talk about healthy lifestyle changes that help burn cellulite.