What causes cellulite?
“There is no one cause – and so there’s no one product to treat it. It’s a combination of many contributing factors, including hormones, circulation, lifestyle and even medication. It’s not a fat issue (women who are underweight can have cellulite), but more to do with the position of the fat cells in a woman’s body, as these tend to be in the upper arms, thighs and bottom. As this is where we naturally have a higher density of fat cells, there’s more capacity for fluid congestion. Also, as we age, the connective fibers weaken, so the skin gives less support, which can make the fat cells more visible. The condition of the skin makes such a difference – and just body-brushing and using a hydrating cream can visibly improve matters. There’s also your body makeup, as it can depend on whether you have a weak liver and so don’t metabolize glucose properly, which means you might have more spongey puffiness under the skin. Or you might not metabolize sodium, which shows more in the legs. But the one unifying factor in all this is fluid retention. Improve this and, while your cellulite may not go away completely, it will definitely be reduced.”
What can I do to minimize cellulite?
“It’s not a product you need, but a program, because cellulite is linked to the whole body – it’s not just a fat, diet or skin issue. Women often feel they have to go to extremes to treat cellulite, but that’s not the case. You can’t just scrub it away; it’s about knowing the right combination of often-simple things that can make all the difference. There are what I call my non-negotiables; make them a regular part of your life to see an improvement. Drink water: it seems counter-intuitive, but you need to drink water to get rid of excess water. The body produces vasopressin, an anti-diuretic hormone, and when you are dehydrated, your levels of vasopressin rise, which makes the kidneys hold on to water. Keeping hydrated is key, as water is the best system cleanser ever. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the tap or a bottle, just drink plenty, but if you have the choice, look for mineral water labeled low in dry residue and sodium. Eat oat bran: the fibrous husk that surrounds the grain is rich in protein and fiber, so it absorbs up to 20 times its own volume of water, plus it helps you eliminate waste and so is good for bloating and water retention. Ideally, eat about one and a half tablespoons a day in yogurt or added to your morning oatmeal. Body-brush the right way: using a brush in each hand makes it faster, but it shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds a day; work up from the feet, doing quick, small flicks over the skin. Focus on the backs of the knees, inner thighs and below the breastbone, where the lymph nodes are. Start cupping: cupping is believed to originate from an ancient Chinese and Middle-Eastern treatment used to draw toxins out of the skin – but these days, we use it to move trapped fluid. Using a flexible silicon ‘cup’ (about the size of a golf ball), you squeeze it, place it on oiled skin and then release to create suction on your arm or leg. Then, starting from the knee or elbow, sweep the vacuumed cup steadily upwards to coax the lymph up towards the nodes in the groin and under the arm. Then release the cup and re-attach it to sweep it up again. Cupping works at a slightly deeper level than body brushing and, ideally, it’s something you would do daily – but twice a week is good. It sounds time-consuming but, once you get the hang of it, it’s straightforward – and doing 10 sweeps up the thigh or upper arm is enough to get the lymph flowing. Cupping after a bath or shower is best, as your skin is still warm. And you only need to treat areas that are prone to cellulite, not the whole body. Use a product: specific ingredients are shown to work, including caffeine, which is a stimulant (getting the fluid moving around the fat cells is key), while juniper and Siberian fir extract are both known diuretics. The basis of my Legology products is a specific complex that works on draining the fluid (not the fat), as it’s getting this moving that makes the change.”
What are the best exercises for getting rid of cellulite?
“Keep moving! A sedentary lifestyle is a big contributing factor to having cellulite. Running, walking, swimming and cycling are all better than doing things like traditional squats. You want to streamline the muscles, not build bulk, so barre classes, Pilates and yoga are all fantastic. If you are sitting down most of the day, roll a tennis ball under your foot to get the lymph moving. Or pointing and flexing your feet does the same job.”
What lifestyle changes can help get rid of cellulite?
“Try simple steps like adding magnesium or Epsom salts to your bath twice a week – and not a handful, but two or three big mugfuls. Stay in the bath for at least 20 minutes, and do this twice a week to help manage fluid retention. Taking magnesium and potassium supplements helps regulate the body’s fluid levels. Turmeric is also good for fluid retention, and it has incredible reparative qualities. Hot and cold water are both excellent for puffiness; use the shower head to spray upwards from ankles to hips, alternating between warm and cold water. But it has to be done regularly as an ongoing part of your regime. You can’t make one change, or put one cream on, and expect miracles; neither should it feel like a burden, as these are all simple but easy and effective changes you can make.”
What are the best foods for reducing cellulite?
“Although cellulite is not a fat issue, eating the right way certainly helps. Foods rich in salt, sugar, carbs and even vegetable-based diets are hydrophilic and encourage water retention. Protein is the opposite, promoting the elimination of water via urine. A protein-rich diet helps you lose weight without losing muscle or skin tone. But, conversely, a diet low in protein makes the body use up its own proteins – and that affects your skin’s elasticity. For vegans, foods such as tofu and seitan are high in protein, while tempeh and soya foods are an adequate substitute, too. Upping your protein and water makes a killer combination for treating cellulite. Salt and sugar both have a big effect on water retention – two teaspoons of salt are enough to retain one liter of water in your body’s tissues for up to two days.”