Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cellulite - fat or fiction?

Anybody who claims there is no difference between cellulite and fat, probably also thinks cats and dogs are one and the same thing because they are bothpets! Granted, cellulite is fat, but it is a specific kind of fat that accumulates unevenly and mostly around the buttocks and thighs of 80 - 90% of all women, regardless of their age, shape and size. The simple truth is that there are distinct physical and chemical differences between cellulite fat and normal fat (1),

With the exception of men with a testosterone deficiency, cellulite is most certainly a female condition. Men rarely develop it, no matter how much they weigh. In women, the subcutaneous adipose tissue is arranged in rectangular chambers that are separated from each other by pillars of connective tissue that attach to the subdermis (2). One can therefore explain the presence of cellulite in females by saying that it relates to the presence of oestrogen (in females) just as baldness relates to the presence of testosterone (in men). In fact, cellulite has been described by scientists as the " ... sex-typical feature of the skin of the thighs of women, and not a sign of disease ... "

Diet Start

Nearly all women will develop noticeable cellulite at some point - even those who put a lot of effort into keeping their bodies slim and well toned. No doubt about it, the reason we women complain so bitterly about it is that it is rather unsightly. It gives the tissue under the skin - the subcutaneous tissue - an orange peel or a crumbly cottage cheese look. It could even look worse, and resemble hail damage on a motor vehicle or a lumpy old mattress. If you pummel the cellulite area, you may even find tender nodules of fat trapped inside hardened connective tissue.

If cellulite is examined under a microscope, the fat cell chambers will look swollen and pinched by the connective tissue bands. This is what causes a restriction of the blood supply - and therefore oxygen - to the tiny capillaries. The oxygen starvation results in a reduction of fat metabolism, which causes the connective tissue layers and bands to become tough and less elastic. Fluids and waste products are then trapped between them, which results in the pinching of tiny nerve ends. This is why the affected areas may often ache. Eventually, in well- developed cellulite, stagnation and hardening of all the structures in the fat layers may occur and the tissue takes on a lifeless quality (3).

What causes cellulite?

Scientists have been studying cellulite for decades and there are many myths about it. It is called various scientific names such as lipodystrophy, liposclerosis or mesenchymal disease. Studies have concluded that cellulite is most prevalent in gynaeoid-shaped women - those body shapes commonly known as the pear shape. This, however, does not mean that lymphatic-shaped women are not prone to cellulite, This body shape is known as the apple shape, meaning small rib cage, large belly and midriff area, often with heavy legs and arms. Should a lymphatic- shaped body develop cellulite, the condition is aggravated by poor drainage of fluid through the swollen lymphatic vessels. This particular body shape may also develop cellulite on the upper arms and stomach. But the fact remains that all female body shapes are prone to cellulite and this is aggravated and accentuated by any degree of weight gain. That is when the metabolism of fatty tissue becomes less and less active. However, contrary to popular myths, cellulite is not necessarily caused by obesity or a lack of exercise. Even fit, slender females can develop it.

... andjoyohoxing