This article has been reproduced by kind permission of The Mail on Sunday YOU Magazine.
Cellulite is the bane of 90 per cent of women – from plump to stick-thin via all shapes in between. The dimpling is likened to orange peel, or in more advanced cases, a mattress. Until recently, there was little you could do. But, according to Dr Elisabeth Dancey of the Bijoux Medi-Spa in London and Southampton, ‘we understand cellulite better now and there are techniques that really can have a beneficial effect.’
‘Cellulite is a disorder of fat cells caused by poor lymphatic drainage and poor circulation, probably exacerbated by inflammatory processes,’ explains Dr Dancey, who has researched the condition for many years. ‘Poor drainage means the fat cells become congested and surrounded by toxins. Then they store more and more fat. Poor circulation leads to the surrounding tissues being deprived of essential nutrients and oxygen so they starve. They respond by creating fibres round the fat cells in an attempt to limit their growth. As the fibres thicken, it leads to the mattress-like tethering of the upper layers of skin to the underlying tissues.’
You need a three-pronged approach to treatment, advises Dr Dancey. ‘Improve circulation and lymphatic drainage, decrease the size of the fat cells, and calm the (presumed) inflammatory processes.’
- Dry skin brushing: before bath or shower, stroke gently from feet to top of thighs (try Ergoform Lymph Detox Body Brush, £8.25 from Victoria Health). This moves on trapped fluid and helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells.
- Wear support tights: almost essential for anyone with a sedentary job, frequent fliers or prone to fluid retention.
- Exercise daily: walking or cycling for 30-60 minutes daily will improve lymphatic draining and help budge stubborn fat.
- After exercise, stretch: this restores muscles to their original length and reduces excess fluid in the tissues, also the formation of harmful molecules called free radicals in the muscles. Stretching activities such as Pilates, yoga, tai chi and body balance improve cellulite, as do relaxation techniques.
- Avoid saturated (animal) fats and trans-fatty acids (TFAs): choose free-range eggs, organic milk, butter and cheese, and avoid intensively reared meat. Fry foods gently in olive oil. Get good fats from oily fish, nuts and seeds.
- Avoid excessive sugar of all kinds: it’s transformed into fat for storing. The ‘fat controller’ is the hormone insulin, which also provokes inflammation. As we consume more sugar (this includes all sugary foods, including fruit juice and squashes, pasta, bread, rice, potatoes and parsnips), the cells become resistant to insulin, so the body makes more. High insulin levels mean more fat is stored, more inflammation occurs, and the fat cells become even more intractable.
- Eat lots of brightly coloured, fresh vegetables and fruit: antioxidants help quell inflammation. Try a supplement such as Antioxidant Nutrient Complex by TerraNova, 22.75 for 100 capsules, dose two daily, from Victoria Health.
- Sip lots of still cool water: try for 1.5-2 litres daily.
- Topical creams containing caffeine encourage fat cells to liberate their contents. Try Go Figure by Temple Spa, 25 for 150ml (aka ‘magic knickers in a bottle’) or Anti Cellulite Cream by Valle of Switzerland, 22.65 for 200ml, from Victoria Health.
- Try a medical treatment such as radiofrequency (RF): the most effective treatment for cellulite, in Dr Dancey’s opinion. RF energy heats the tissues, like a mini-sauna. The fat cells dislike the heat, and use up energy trying to cool down. This provokes the skin to tighten and regain its elasticity. Heat also improves circulation and lymphatic drainage. Accent Spa radio frequency (available at Bijoux-Medispa, see below) is designed to treat cellulite, lax skin and fatty areas on the face and body.
Dr Elisabeth Dancey, tel: 020 7730 0765, bijoux-medispa.co.uk
Yes to Gentle Baby Care
A neighbour whose baby daughter’s touchy skin reacted against most brands is delighted with the new Yes to Baby Carrots range. She tried Naturally Cleansing Bubble Bath, 8.99 for 350ml, and Nourishing Baby Lotion, 8.99 for 200ml (from VictoriaHealth), and says: ‘Super stuff! Loved the soft foam and gentle scent. The lotion feels lovely too, and doesn’t seem to trouble the baby’s rash.’
Website of the week: micro-scooters.co.uk
The scooting trend includes mums now, both to keep up with their children and to keep fit. My mummy tester in London tried the two-wheeler Micro Flex scooter (99.95, ages 7 to adult), which folds down and comes with a carry strap. ‘I go to work by bus after school drop-off so I collapse the scooter and sling it over my shoulder. It definitely works the glutes if you keep swapping legs. My seven-year-old daughter loves it when we can whizz around the park together at weekends, with her on the three-wheeler Maxi Micro Scooter (92.95, ages 6-12). Helmets aren’t compulsory but we wear them as you can reach quite high speeds.’ From July, there will also be information on setting up a scooter club, plus exercise plans (for mums and families, also post-natal).