Do you have cellulite? Does it stress you out? You're not alone. Cellulite is a natural build-up of fat in the body - everyone has some. Fortunately, there is a way to reduce its irksome presence in your life.
Let's back up for a second. As always, it starts with food...
It's both a blessing and a curse to live in part of the world where food - and convenient "food products" - are available at any time day. It makes it very tempting to go through the day consuming whatever is easily accessible and inexpensive, often without considering just what's in a product and how it affects us.
This means that many people continually consume foods they are intolerant to, unaware that physical symptoms they experience are caused by what they're eating.
When we are out of touch with the way food impacts our bodies, repeated exposure to foods we can't handle can have a negative cumulative effect. Ayurvedic medicine posits that sickness comes from backed-up drains; that is, a build-up of toxins in the body that prevent the lymphatic system from releasing the by-products of metabolic activity.
A common offender of toxic build-up is the consumption of foods a particular body is not designed to handle. (For instance, someone with Celiac's Disease can't properly metabolize gluten. This places stress on the body - including an autoimmune response, increased white blood cell activity, and destruction of the intestinal tissues - and generates a build-up of by-products that exacerbate physical symptoms. Not fun. By avoiding gluten, Celiacs can prevent the reaction so the body can return to a normal state and properly expel toxins. Repeated exposure to gluten causes the opposite to occur.)
The same is true for other food intolerances: the tricky part is that many of us are consuming foods we don't even know we're sensitive to. Symptoms include inflammation and an upset in the intestinal flora balance (both indicators of increased potential for toxic build-up). Wheat, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, and artificial colors are big offenders -- and in today's processed food emporium, they show up in all kinds of stealthy ways. Binders, preservatives, flavoring, texturing agents... without even knowing it, we may be constantly bombarding a weakened system with the very thing that is causing it harm.
How does this apply to cellulite?
The inflammatory response is central to this issue. Inflammation in tissues anywhere in the body hampers the flow of blood and energy, causing back-ups and build-ups in other areas. When this happens, toxins that would normally be filtered and expelled through the kidneys via the blood stay pooled in the body. Guess where? In fat cells. And guess what we call fat cells that have become enlarged? Cellulite.
Unfortunately for ladies, the connective tissue we have beneath the surface of our skin is a wider-spaced mesh than men's: theirs is more like a screen door while ours is more like a badminton racket.
Reducing the appearance of cellulite can be difficult, especially when the culprit is food we can't handle. An increased build-up of toxins means decreased circulation to the cells, which leads to further inflammation. Frustrating! But if you're noticing a trend here (how does food impact our bodies? how can we adjust food to change problematic reactions?), you're already on the right track!
By identifying and eliminating foods that we are sensitive to, the body will react with less inflammatory response, produce less toxic by-products and store less toxins in our fat cells. Obviously, the impact is bigger than just how we look in a swimsuit: less toxic build-up is good for all of our cells, even the ones we can't see at the surface.
The easiest way to investigate potential food intolerances is to first create some awareness of how you feel when you eat certain things. Do bread products make you feel foggy? Does dairy do a number on your stomach? Does sugar mess with your mood?
From there, try to eliminate offending foods systematically - say, one food for one to two weeks at a time - and keep track of how you feel physically and mentally. If anything registers as a huge shift (and you feel remarkably better without a certain food in your life), it might be a worthwhile experiment to find ways to replace that food in your life. Perhaps dairy-free milks for cows milk or brown rice instead of wheat. The shifts might be small to start, but by reducing inflammation from food intolerances, your cells will be more able to flush out toxins and function smoothly.
And don't we all want smoothness? :)
Have a most wonderful Sunday night, everyone! I'm happy to field food-substitution questions if you have them.