Beauty through nature & technology
Smoother, tighter, firmer face & body with an advanced combination of Deep Tissue Radiofrequency™, Hi-Power Ultrasound Cavitation, Real Electro-Mesotherapy, Curcumin / Turmeric extract, Hyaluronic Acid, EGCG / Green Tea Extract, Resveratrol, Cocoa polyphenols, Centella / Gotu Kola Extract, Carnosine +33 other natural, high-purity, high-concentration actives. No other clinic in the world offers this exclusive combination of advanced technologies and pure actives, for maximum results, naturally.
Science-based skin tightening & cellulite reduction
Welcome to LipoTherapeia, the only cosmetic practice in London dedicated exclusively to cellulite reduction and intensive, whole body skin tightening, including the décolletage, face and under-eye area. LipoTherapeia is the only clinic in London where you can have treatment with Meso-CRF®, our exclusive technology that combines Deep Tissue Radiofrequency™, Real ElectroMesotherapy™, Hi-Power Ultrasound Cavitation, all simultaneously applied at the same time, for maximum results.
To offer you the absolutely best advice, treatment and skin formulations we daily follow all the scientific research in our field and we assess all new equipment for our cellulite and skin tightening treatments and all new natural active ingredients for our intensive cellulite creams. And we share all this knowledge via our blog.
Our before & after treatment pictures are 100% Photoshop-free and our cream testimonies are 100% genuine. Our treatments, creams and expert advice are regularly featured in most major national magazines, newspapers and TV, including the Daily Mail, Cosmopolitan, OK, Grazia, the Times, Telegraph, Express, Daily Mirror, She, BBC etc (please note that, as with any treatment or body product, results vary from person to person).
EXCLUSIVE MESO-CRF® TREATMENTS IN LONDON
LipoTherapeia is the only clinic in London where you can have treatment with Meso-CRF®. Meso-CRF® technology technology combines Deep Tissue Radiofrequency™ + Real ElectroMesotherapy™ + Hi-Power Ultrasound Cavitation, all simultaneously applied at the same time, for maximum results.
All our treatments are based on Physics, not beauty therapy myths, and are offered by an expert with 16-year experience, not a machine operator. Meso-CRF® treatments are pain-free, non-invasive, super-safe and require zero downtime (you can go straight to work after treatment on face or body). During the last 16 years we have treated more than 2,600 clients and have provided more than 16,000 cellulite and skin tightening procedures.
Please note that at LipoTherapeia we will not sell you miracles or make exaggerated claims about instant cellulite / fat / skin looseness removal with just 1-3 sessions (as falsely advertised by some Harley Street clinics) because this is biologically impossible. Instead, we always offer honest, science-based advice (what to expect on your first session; you can also check our frequently asked questions).
We use different settings and actives for our Meso-CRF® treatment to treat the specific needs of different body areas: under-eye, face (anti-ageing & skin tightening), jawline (contouring & skin tightening), acne (face / body), décolletage, bra rolls, upper arms, hands (anti-ageing), tummy, love handles, butt lift, saddle bags, inner thighs, knee tops, calves (lower legs), whole thighs & butt (cellulite & skin tightening - our most popular treatment).
Dedicated treatments and protocols are also available for specific needs: office workers; post-lipo treatments (after liposuction / tummy tuck / vaser / laser lipo); after pregnancy; slim women with cellulite / skin laxity; models and dancers; overweight women; while you lose weight; when you cannot exercise; Celluence® Dynamic Cellulite Massage, for those who prefer hands-only treatment for cellulite.
PRICES / treatment menu
Prices are the same for ALL treatments:
£145 for your first session
£200 for single follow-up sessions
£145/session for 6x sessions (£870 total)
£135/session for 12x sessions (£1620 total)
Explore our full treatment menu
Prices are the same for both creams:
£95 for each Celluence® cream, 250ml
£135 for both Celluence® creams, 500ml
Explore the Celluence® creams
LipoTherapeia & CelLuence in the press
"I look at myself in the mirror: there appears to be hardly any cellulite at all, my skin is much firmer and the dimples are obviously reduced."
The Peach Factor Blog
The Peach Factor offers expert advice and the latest science on anti-ageing, skin firming, cellulite, slimming and overall health, based on our 16-year research and practical experience in those fields
- Curcumin is one of the many curcuminoids, present in turmeric. Turmeric contains approximately 2% percent curcumin, so a teaspoon of turmeric, which weighs 2 grams, contains about 60mg curcumin. In addition to curcumin, turmeric also contains smaller amounts of the curcuminoids, such as demethoxycurcumin, bisdemethoxycurcumin.
- Given that most researchers recommend an average of 500-1000mg of curcumin/day, in order to gain the health benefits seen in studies, one has to consume 25-50g of turmeric powder, which is a quite large amount of turmeric to take every day - expect to be fed up of it in days and your teeth to become all yellow, forever...
- Definitely it does not make any sense to make a "turmeric smoothie" and expect any health benefits any time soon, although daily use for months will confer some health benefits. Personally, I would prefer to add the contents of a capsule of 95% curcumin (see below) into the drink, which is 50x more concentrated than turmeric itself. In this way I do not have to add 5-50g of turmeric into my drink in order to get 100-1000mg of pure curcumin.
- The same applies to home-made turmeric facial masks, one of the most ridiculous beauty fads: don't expect to get any anti-ageing results any time soon. And remember, the "jaundice look" is not very fashionable, neither your clothes look good in yellow stains.
- Due to low concentration of curcumin in turmeric, supplementation with curcumin capsules is recommended. Luckily, supplements with 95% pure curcumin have been available for years now and are easy to find and very economical, so two 500mg or one 1000mg capsules of 95% curcumin are all that are needed to reap the health benefits of curcumin.
- Curcumin is probably the most biologically active curcuminoid in turmeric, but not the most easily absorbed, hence the need for liposomal curcumin, curcumin combined with piperine, the use of other methods of absorption, or the use of the other curcumin analogs, such as the ones mentioned above.
- For this reason, some products contain curcumin in liposomal or other enhanced absorption form, which are proven to increase bioavailability by a factor of 10x or higher. In this case lower amounts of curcumin are needed - and provided - in the capsules.
- Certain curcumin derivatives are also used for local application in anti-ageing creams, for enhanced absorption and without the extreme yellowness.
- Like all other supplements, more is not always better, so stick to the 1000mg upper maximum daily intake and consult a health care practitioner if you suffer from any medical conditions or if you are pregnant/breast-feeding.
- In a new study published today it was shown that curcuminoids, the curcumin derivatives contained in the turmeric plant, combined with piperine, a pepper extract, reduce inflammatory markers in the blood in people who suffer from metabolic syndrome (pre-diabetes)
- Specifically, the curcuminoid/piperine combination reduced levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker of fat oxidation; increased the activity of the body's own natural antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD); and significantly reduced levels of the inflammatory protein C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a very important risk marker and risk factor of cardiovascular disease (people with metabolic syndrome have a very high risk of cardiovascular heart disease).
- This randomised, placebo controlled clinical trial on humans shows that even "short-term supplementation with a curcuminoid-piperine combination significantly improves oxidative and inflammatory status in patients with metabolic syndrome" and that "curcuminoids could be regarded as natural, safe and effective CRP-lowering agents."
- Curcumin is already widely researched, and widely used, for it's antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer action, so the results of this study are hardly surprising and confirm what was shown in other studies, but in a clinical, randomised, placebo-controlled setup.
- It is important to note here that curcuminoids are the sole active agents that accomplish the beneficial effects in inflammation/oxidation status, with the piperine acting as an absorption enhancer.
- However, piperine is not absolutely necessary, as it enhances absorption only by a small factor, in contract to curcumin in liposome form, which is much more bioavailable, so our suggestion would be to use liposomal curcumin for maximum results.
- Source: Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of curcuminoid-piperine combination in subjects with metabolic syndrome: A randomised controlled trial and an updated meta-analysis.
- Abstract: BACKGROUND: Oxidative stress and inflammation have been proposed as emerging components of metabolic syndrome (MetS). Curcuminoids are natural polyphenols with strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. OBJECTIVE: To study the effectiveness of supplementation with a bioavailable curcuminoid preparation on measures of oxidative stress and inflammation in patients with MetS. Our secondary aim was to perform a meta-analysis of data from all randomized controlled trials in order to estimate the effect size of curcuminoids on plasma C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations. METHODS: In this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial, 117 subjects with MetS (according to the NCEP-ATPIII diagnostic criteria) were randomly assigned to curcuminoids (n = 59; drop-outs = 9) or placebo (n = 58; drop-outs = 8) for eight weeks. Curcuminoids were administered at a daily dose of 1 g, and were co-supplemented with piperine (10 mg/day) in order to boost oral bioavailability. Serum activities of superoxide dismutase (SOD) and concentrations of malondialdehyde (MDA) and CRP were measured at baseline and at study end. Regarding the importance of CRP as a risk marker and risk factor of cardiovascular disease, a random-effects meta-analysis of clinical trials was performed to estimate the overall impact of curcuminoid therapy on circulating concentrations of CRP. The robustness of estimated effect size was evaluated using leave-one-out sensitivity analysis. RESULTS: Supplementation with curcuminoid-piperine combination significantly improved serum SOD activities (p < 0.001) and reduced MDA (p < 0.001) and CRP (p < 0.001) concentrations compared with placebo. Quantitative data synthesis revealed a significant effect of curcuminoids vs. placebo in reducing circulating CRP concentrations (weighed mean difference: -2.20 mg/L; 95% confidence interval [CI]: -3.96, -0.44; p = 0.01). This effect was robust in sensitivity analysis. CONCLUSIONS: Short-term supplementation with curcuminoid-piperine combination significantly improves oxidative and inflammatory status in patients with MetS. Curcuminoids could be regarded as natural, safe and effective CRP-lowering agents.
- Exercise helps you stay slim by "oxidising" (burning) fat and carbohydrates in the muscles. However, it can also help you slim down via numerous other mechanisms, two of which are described in this paper conducted in Japan.
- Specifically, in experiments on mice the Japanese researchers found that regular exercise increases ATGL, a lipolytic (fat-releasing) enzyme found in fat cells, whose purpose is to break down fat, thereby helping reduce fat accumulation in the fat cells.
- Adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) levels in fat cells increase with regular exercise, partially due to an increase in a protein called PPARg2 but also due to a reduction in circulating insulin
- Insulin is well-known as the most important inhibitor of lipolysis and high levels of this hormone can lead to an almost complete shut down of lipolysis. By controlling insulin via regular exercise, we allow ATGL to break down fat and release it into the bloodstream for oxidation (burning) in the muscles, liver and organs.
- Source: Higher Levels of ATGL Are Associated with Exercise-Induced Enhancement of Lipolysis in Rat Epididymal Adipocytes
- Abstract: BACKGROUND: In adipose cells, adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) catalyzes the first step in adipocyte triacylglyceride hydrolysis, thereby regulating both basal and hormone-stimulated lipolysis. However, little is known about the molecular mechanism(s) underlying habitual exercise-induced adaptive modulation of ATGL in white adipocytes via alteration in transcription regulator and lipolytic cofactors. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL RESULTS:
Male Wistar rats were randomly divided into 2 groups a sedentary control group (CG) and a habitual exercise group (EG). The EG was subjected to running on a treadmill set at 5 days per week for 9 weeks. The CG was not subjected to running on a treadmill. In the EG, levels of ATGL mRNA and protein were elevated with a significant increase in lipolysis compared with the CG, accompanied by a significant increase in associations of CGI-58 with ATGL protein. Under these conditions, an upregulation of peroxisome proliferation-activated receptorg-2 (PPARg-2) was observed. In the EG, the addition of rosiglitazone further significantly increased the levels of ATGL protein compared with the CG. However, attenuated levels of the ATGL protein in adipocytes were obtained by the addition of insulin, which is known to inhibit the expression of ATGL, in both types of groups. Actually, levels of plasma insulin were significantly reduced in the EG compared with the CG. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that elevated levels of ATGL are involved in the exercise-induced enhancement of lipolysis in primary adipocytes. The exact mechanism(s) underlying this phenomenon is associated, at least in part, with upregulated transcriptional activation of PPARg-2. In addition, exercise-induced lower circulation levels of insulin also correlate with habitual exercise-induced higher levels of ATGL in primary adipocytes.
Fat cells literally break down your collagen fibres in order to expand, making you flabby in the process
You may have noticed when looking in the mirror that fatty areas in your body are not just "fatty", but they are also looser than normal, looking and feeling "flabby" to the touch. You may also have noticed that this applies not only to skin but also to deeper tissues where fat exists.
It seems that the resulting skin looseness and lack of elasticity cannot be explained only by the fact that fat tissue is softer in it's consistency than muscle or skin. You may wonder that the skin itself and the connective tissue inside must be in some way "broken down"...
The bad news is that this amateur observation is true and reflects what is now a well accepted fact by scientists: fat tissue, every time it needs to expand, actually breaks down any neighbouring collagen and elastin tissue, making the area "flabby" and aged in the process (collagen is what makes your skin and deeper tissues firm/tight; elastin is what makes your skin an d deeper tissues elastic/bouncy).
Evil fat needs "vital space" in order to expand and captures that vital space from your collagen cells
If you take in more calories than you ingest or even if you do not move much (independently of how much or little you eat), your body feels the need to create more fat cells (adipocytes) in certain areas and to fill those fat cells with more fat. As the fat tissue needs to expand to accommodate the extra fat and extra cells, it uses special enzymes that literally break down your collagen, elastin and other fibres that keep you looking firm, young and fresh.
These enzymes, called matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), create space for that "fat expansion". With less firming collagen fibres and elastic elastin fibres in that area and with more squishy fat cells filled with soft fat and oil, it is no wonder that the tissue in that area slowly adopts a more loose, "saggy", inelastic and aged appearance.
Furthermore, if you eat/drink/sit down too much, your body feels that you do not need so many collagen cells (fibroblasts) and replaces those firm-giving collagen cells with flab-endowing fat cells.
This is a double-whammy:
- fat cells replace collagen cells
- fat cells also break the existing collagen fibre network that gives your body firmness and tone
Not just skin looseness, but skin ageing too
And there is even more bad news: fat cells continuously accumulate and release fat (these are called basal lipogenesis and basal lipolysis, respectively). By releasing free fatty acids into the neighbouring area, fat cells contribute to premature ageing of that area when these free fatty acids get oxidised, a process that also leads to chronic low-grade inflammation of the area. This phenomenon is more pronounced on the face, and contributes to wrinkle formation and ageing.
Cellulite and skin looseness
If the fat in question is subdermal fat (i.e. fat contained in pouches within the skin itself), then the skin itself becomes loose and saggy and adopts the bumpy appearance caused by the protruding fat pouches that create the "cellulitey" orange peel look (peau d' orange).
So what can be done to halt the fat tissue expansion?
To stop your fat tissue expanding and making you flabby, you obviously have to first eat less and more healthily, drink less alcohol, smoke less (smoking damages connective tissue too) and exercise more. Prevention is always better than cure!
In addition to improving your lifestyle, you can consider a quality skin-firming / anti-cellulite cream, a quality food supplement that contains polyphenols/antioxidants which help maintain connective tissue integrity and a quality skin firming/fat reduction treatment.
High-power monopolar radiofrequency is probably the exact antidote to the body-loosening fat tissue expansion, as it kills four birds with one stone:
- helps break down adipocytes
- helps release fat from adipose cells
- contracts the existing collagen fibres
- stimulates the production of new collagen fibres by fibroblasts.
It is very difficult to find a good, fat-specific radiofrequency treatment, as most RF treatments are focused on the surface of the skin (epidermis) rather than the deeply seated fat tissue, so make sure you do your research first.
Electro-mesotherapy is another procedure to consider, but only if a high amount of skin-firming active ingredients are included in the mesotherapy formulation used for the treatment, otherwise it is a waste of time.
Finally, specific types of anti-cellulite massage can aid in the fight against flab, but in a more weak manner than the above treatments.
Again, as electro-mesotherapy formulations and massage therapist skills vary wildly, you must first do some research and ask a few questions before committing to a course of treatments.
Other treatments can mildly help with skin firming, but as they are not that effective we see no point in mentioning them here.
Radiofrequency diathermy is a method of selectively heating the deeper layers of the skin
Radiofrequency skin treatments involve the selective heating of specific skin layers with high frequency electrical currents.
This type of heating is called diathermy because it can heat deeper tissues without affecting the superficial ones (diathermy literally means "heating through" in Greek). Diathermy is preferred to superficial heat sourses, such as infrared radiation, which only affect the surface of the skin (epidermis) but do not significantly penetrate into deeper skin layers, as radiofrequency does.
How does radiofrequency work?
The selective heating provided by RF diathermy improves the appearance of the skin by:
- boosting blood circulation (anti-ageing, cellulite reduction)
- stimulating new collagen and elastin fibre production (skin firming and elasticity)
- contracting the existing collagen fibres (skin tightening)
- contracting sebaceous glands (acne reduction)
- break down fatty deposits (fat and cellulite removal)(only with very specific equipment)
What esthetic conditions can radiofrequency treat?
It is widely accepted today that with the right equiment and protocols, radiofrequency is the best possible treatment for skin tightening and cellulite removal available today. In addition, it is one of the most effective anti-ageing, anti-wrinkle, skin pore-contracting and anti-acne treatments, especially if applied with treatment products containing multiple highly concentrated actives.
Depending on the equipment used and the settings/protocols applied, radiofrequency can selectively heat the:
- epidermis (superficial part of the skin)
- dermis (middle part of the skin)
- subdermis (deepest part of the skin)
- and even the subcutaneous fat (fat under the skin)
High intensity, cooled, monopolar, resistive RF
Having said that, most RF machines used in aesthetics today are based on "bipolar" and "capacitive" RF, and barely the subdermis, and quite a few of them mainly affect the epidermis. This results to a very superficial treatment, not much different to infrared or contact heating treatments. Other machines are simply too weak to have any significant effect either on the superficial or the deep skin layers...
On the other hand, machines that employ "cooled", "resistive" and "monopolar" radiofrequency can penetrated the skin and if they are of high intensity can offer an unparalleled, effective treatment.
In physiotherapy, RF is used to treat even deeper tissues such as muscles and joints - but with a quite different setup to that used in beauty therapy.
Increased blood coagulation is one of the causes of water retention
Increased blood clotting hinders the ability of red blood cells to squeeze through the smaller blood vessels, known as arterioles, venules and capillaries. Considering that some capillaries have a width of one erythrocyte (red blood cell), it is easy to understand what can happen to the circulation if blood cells and more sticky: they clump together shutting down the entrance to small blood vessels, and thereby reducing the delivery of nutrients and removal of waste products/toxins and excess water.
The end results are:
- water retention / puffiness
- cellulite (cellulite is affected to a large extent by water retention)
- low energy levels (poor tissue oxygenation and nourishing results, and poor detoxification leads to low energy levels)
- poor brain blood circulation and oxygenation and therefore poor motivation, focus and energy (brain function depends a lot on the function of capillaries and tissue oxygenation)
Causes of increased blood coagulation
Balanced blood clotting is essential for health, with both excessively high or excessively low blood clotting being detrimental to health.
In addition to genetic and medical factors, increased blood clotting can occur due to:
- low grade chronic inflammation
- the use of the contraceptive pill or other hormonal contraception, such as patches, injections etc.
- excessive estrogen in the body
- the consumption of sugar or saturated / fried / hydrogenated fat (trans fatty acids)
- certain types of medication
- other factors
Some natural methods to reduce increased blood coagulation include:
- consuming highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) in the form of oily fish or a quality EPA-rich and DHA-rich fish oil (NOT cod liver oil, which contains excessive amounts of vitamin A)
- eating natto, the traditional japanese fermented soya product (or taking a nattokinase supplement, which contains the active ingredient in a concentrated form and without the "yukky" taste)
- eating garlic, which has a blood thinning effect
- replacing of hormonal contraception with natural contraceptives, such as non-medicated coil or condoms
- avoiding smoking, saturated fats, trans-fats and fried food
- normalising estrogen levels in the body (with the help or a doctor and/or naturopath/nutritionist)
As we mentioned above, excessively low coagulation can be as detrimental as excessively high coagulation, so please ask for proper advice by a suitably qualified health care professional before embarking on any supplementation.
Especially, you should never combine any of the three (fish oil/oily fish / nattokinase / garlic) or overdo it with fish oil-only supplementation of nattokinase-only supplementation. More is not always better!
Fatty food = cellulite (unless you're a cavewoman)
Foods rich in oils and fat, including "healthy fats" such olive oil, are obviously not very good for both your health and appearance, due to their high calorie content (one gram of fat/oil contains 9 calories). Extra calories mean more fat deposited in the tissues, including the superficial adipose (fat) tissues located at the deeper layers of the skin (cellulite).
This general rule applies to almost all oils/fats, even many so-called healthy ones, such as olive oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, argan oil, rapeseed oil, sesame oil, palm oil, butter, ghee, cream, nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashew nuts, brazil nuts, pistachios etc.), seeds (sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts etc.) and fatty foods in general (fatty meat, cheeses, pastry, biscuits, chocolate etc.).
The only exception to this rule applies to when you consume a very low carb diet, such as the paleolithic (caveman/cavewoman) diet, which, if properly followed, will not lead to fat accumulation or cellulite ("properly followed" means a moderate consumption of fat - no diet gives you a license to eat as much fat as you want and never put on weight).
On the other hand, a diet rich in both fats/oils AND carbs will definitely lead to putting on weight and cellulite.
The really good fats
As we mentioned above, the traditionally considered good oils, such as olive oil and unsaturated fats found in nuts and seeds, may offer protection from heart disease but they offer no protection from putting on weight and from developing cellulite. In this respect, they are almost as bad as the traditionally considered "bad fats", such as butter and fatty meat.
Fortunately, there are a few exceptions to this rule. There are three classes of fatty acids which are either used up for energy in the body, used up as building blocks in tissue cell membranes or stimulate fat burning.
Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (HUFAs)
Highly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (HUFAs), contained in oily fish, such as sardines, mackerel, halibut, salmon, herrings and anchovies, are used up as building blocks for nerve, brain and other organ tissues, so they do not end up as fat / cellulite in your body. The two main HUFAs are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These can also be taken by vegetarians in the form of capsules.
Furthermore, HUFAs actually stimulate fat burning, thereby increasing metabolism and helping you lose weight. It has been found that eating a salmon steak three times a week can actually lead to a loss of 2-3 kilograms in 3-4 months, without any other change in the diet.
As with everything else, moderation is the key here. Eating an excessive amount of oily fish or taking an excessive amount of fish oil will reduce your immunity, cause metabolic dysfunction and will probably not lead to more weight loss. It may even possibly lead to weight gain, as not all the excessive HUFAs can be used up as building blocks and the excess will end up being stored). So be reasonable. More is not always better.
Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs)
Unlike normal fats, Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCTs) are readily metabolised by cells and used up for energy, thereby increasing energy levels in the body and preventing fat accumulation.
The best and richest source of MCTs is coconut butter (also known as coconut oil), with 70% MCT content.
Fractionated coconut oil can contain up to 100% of medium chain triglycerides, making it a fat source that can be used 100% for energy. Fractionated coconut oil, however, is not tasty and aromatic like normal coconut butter and it can lead to gastric distress if taken in high quantities (cramps / diarrhoea).
Again, moderation is the key here. In small quantities, MCTs are preferentially used for energy, in relation to other fats. If, however, you consume large amounts of MCTs, your body will use up as much as it needs for energy and then it will use the rest of MCTs, as well as all other fats and oils consumed, for fat storage.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Another type of fat that stimulates fat burning is Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA). CLA is naturally found in grass fed beef, but to get meaningful amounts of it, you must take it in concentrated capsule form and several capsules a day are needed for good results.
CLA cannot be combined with HUFAs because those two fats stimulate fat loss in opposite and competing ways, so you must choose between one or the other. You can also cycle the use of CLA with HUFAs every three months.
Local application of MCTs, HUFAs and CLA
Due to their direct effect on fat cell metabolism, MCTs, HUFAs and CLA can theoretically be used in anti-cellulite creams, with the aim to reduce fat content of the superficial fat cells.
Practically, however, HUFAs (i.e. fish oils) cannot be used locally due to their strong fishy smell (nobody wants to smell like a sardine, even if that would mean less cellulite!), leaving MCTs and CLA to be used for that purpose. In the creams and treatment products we use at the clinic, we use MCTs for the cream base and also use a patented CLA oil as a natural anti-cellulite ingredient.
The really bad guys
As we mentioned above, even if eaten in moderate quantities, most oils/fats (except MCTs and HUFAs) can lead to weight gain and cellulite, unless a very low carbohydrate diet is followed. Without carbs in the diet, moderate consumption of fats and oils are OK, but in the presence of carbs in the diet, most fats are "bad guys".
However, there are some "damaged" fats or artificially manipulated fats, that must never be eaten, as they are detrimental to health in multiple ways.
Fried oils and fats
Oils and fats become oxidised if cooked at high temperatures, i.e. if they are fried (especially the "good" unsaturated oils, such as sunflower oil, sesame oil etc.). When these "damaged" fats are eaten, they get absorbed by cell and mitochondrial membranes, replacing "good fats". This causes inflammation, DNA damage and overall health dysfunction, which is experienced as fatigue and poor health. For cellulite, which partially is an inflammatory aesthetic condition, fried food is one of the worst things you can eat.
You can imagine that oils/fats which are fried several times, such as the ones contained in chips, crisps and other fried food bought in restaurants and shops, are simply horrible for your health and appearance.
Hydrogenated Oils / Trans Fatty Acids (TFAs)
Hydrogenated Fats, also known as Trans Fatty Acids (TFAs), are unnatural oils made in the oil factory from natural unsaturated oils. Like fried oils, these "pre-damaged" trans fats also get absorbed by cell and mitochondrial membranes, cause inflammation, DNA damage and overall dysfunction and lead to fatigue, poor health and cellulite.
Trans fats are not only found in fried foods but also in many ready made foods, such as margarine, croissants, biscuits / cookies, pies, pasties, desserts, ready made meals, crisps etc. If you ever buy such foods, you should always check the label and look for hydrogenated fats / trans fatty acids and if you see them on the ingredient list you should always refuse to buy that product.
Avoiding trans fats, fried food and sugar (another evil food ingredient) is the least you can do to avoid degenerative disease, ageing and cellulite.
- Quercetin, found n onions, parsley, citrus fruits, berries and apples, protects from heart disease by fighting inflammation and atherosclerotic plaque formation
- Quercetin attenuates atherosclerotic inflammation and adhesion molecule expression by modulating TLR-NF-κB signaling pathway.
- Abstract: Adhesion molecules expressed by activated endothelial cells play key role in regulating leukocyte trafficking to sites of inflammation. The present study attempted to explore whether the polyphenolic flavonoid quercetin influence leukocyte endothelial attraction and the involvement of TLR-NF-κB signaling pathway in the expression of adhesion molecules involved in the early development of atherosclerosis. Quercetin at 25μM concentration significantly reduced the HUVEC expression of VCAM-1 and ICAM-1 evidently enhanced by oxLDL. In addition, quercetin significantly downregulated the mRNA expression of MCP-1 and alleviated the nuclear translocation of NF-κB p65 subunit in oxLDL induced HUVECs. Western blot and PCR analyses revealed that quercetin significantly attenuated the expression of both protein and mRNA expression of TLR2 and TLR4. Quercetin supplementation significantly decreased the inflammatory mediators like COX, 5-LOX, MPO, NOS, CRP and the mRNA expression of the cytokine IL-6 in hypercholesterolemic diet (HCD) fed atherosclerotic rats. The results demonstrate that quercetin is effective to regulate the atherosclerotic inflammatory process by inhibiting oxLDL induced endothelial leukocyte adhesion by attenuating the TLR-NF-κB signaling pathway in endothelial cells and decrease the inflammatory process induced by HCD in rats. Therefore, quercetin acts as anti-inflammatory and anti-atherogenic agent, which may have implications for strategies attenuating endothelial dysfunction-related atherosclerosis.
- Comments: The citrus peel extract polymethoxyflavones (PMFs) already have limited use in cholesterol and triglyceride reduction. This new study is the second in three years that shows the potential of hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones (HPMFs) from orange peel to inhibit adipogenesis, i.e. the growth of fat cells. Small quantities of citrus peel can be eaten (lime, lemon, orange, kumquat etc) and may potentially provide benefits against obesity. However, the consumption of larger quantities is not recommended as it can cause diarrhoea and other side effects. A safer and more standardised way to take polymethoxyflavones is "modified citrus pectin", rich in PMFs, which has been in circulation as a supplement for several years..
- Source: Suppression of Adipogenesis by 5-hydroxy-3,6,7,8,3',4'-Hexamethoxyflavone from Orange Peel in 3T3-L1 Cells.
- Abstract: We reported previously that hydroxylated polymethoxyflavones (HPMFs) effectively suppressed obesity in high-fat-induced mouse. In this study, we further investigated the molecular mechanism of action of 5-hydroxy-3,6,7,8,3',4'-hexamethoxyflavone (5-OH-HxMF), one of major HPMFs in orange peel. Treatment of 5-OH-HxMF effectively inhibited lipid accumulation by 55-60% in a dose-dependent manner. The 5-OH-HxMF attenuated adipogenesis through downregulating adipogenesis-related transcription factors such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ) and CCAAT/enhancer-binding proteins (C/EBPs), as well as downstream target fatty acid synthase and acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC). 5-OH-HxMF activated adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase signaling and silent mating type information regulation 1 (SIRTUIN 1 or SIRT1) in 3T3-L1 adipocytes to decrease lipid accumulation. In addition, the inhibition rate of lipid accumulation was compared between 5-OH-HxMF and 3,5,6,7,8,3',4'-heptamethoxyflavone (HpMF). 5-OH-HxMF inhibited lipid accumulation 15-20% more than HpMF did, indicating that hydroxyl group at position 5 can be a key factor in the suppression of adipogenesis.
- In a new study published yesterday it was found that the humble dandelion (taraxacum official) is very effective in causing apoptosis in human visceral pre-adipocytes (abdominal "baby" fat cells)
- On the other hand DHA, on the the two main omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, caffeine and the berry extract resveratrol, we more effective in reducing fat accumulation in fat cells
- Caffeine, DHA and the olive leaf extract oleuropein were more effective in boosting fat reduction (lipolysis) in pre-adipocytes ("baby" fat cells)
- On the other hand, oleuropein, bitter orange and dandelion were more effective lipolytic agents in mature fat cells
- Finally caffeine inhibited adipogenesis in pre-adipocytes, i.e. it inhibited the growth of baby fat cells
- In summary, the most effective overall natural slimming chemicals that were assessed in this study were dandelion, caffeine and DHA, with resveratrol, oleuropein and bitter orange, also contributing to fat reduction
- This limited study only assessed 8 natural chemicals, out of hundreds with proven activities in lipolysis, adipogenesis, apoptosis etc, so a much more broad comparative study of natural slimming agents is warranted
- Source: Different anti-adipogenic effects of bio-compounds on primary visceral pre-adipocytes and adipocytes.
- Abstract: Several natural compounds exhibit strong capacity for decreasing triglyceride accumulation, enhancing lipolysis and inducing apoptosis. The present study reports the anti-adipogenic effects of Silybum marianum (SL), Citrus aurantium (CA), Taraxacum officinale (TO), resveratrol (RE), Curcuma longa (CU), caffeine (CF), oleuropein (OL) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in reducing differentiation and increasing lipolysis and apoptosis. Analyses were performed on human primary visceral pre-adipocytes after 10 (P10) and 20 (P20) days of treatment during differentiation and on mature adipocytes after 7 days of treatment (A7). The percentage of apoptosis induced by TO extract in P10 and P20 cells was significantly higher than that induced by all other compounds and in CTRL cells. Triglyceride accumulation was significantly lower in cells treated with DHA, CF, RE in comparison to cells treated with OL and in CTRL cells. Treatments with CF, DHA and OL significantly incremented lipolysis in P20 cells in comparison to other compounds and in CTRL cells. On the contrary, the treatment of A7 cells with OL, CA and TO compounds significantly increased cell lipolysis. The addition of CF in differentiating P20 pre-adipocytes significantly increased the expression of genes involved in inhibition of adipogenesis, such as GATA2, GATA3, WNT1, WNT3A, SFRP5, and DLK1. Genes involved in promoting adipogenesis such as CCND1, CEBPB and SREBF1 were significantly down-regulated by the treatment. The screening of bioactive compounds for anti-adipogenic effects showed that in differentiating cells TO extract was the most effective in inducing apoptosis and CF and DHA extracts were more efficient in inhibition of differentiation and in induction of cell lipolysis.
- Comment: Centella asiatica / gotu kola extract is well-known for it's skin whitening properties and this study confirms that madecassoside, one of the 4 main triterpenes in centella "significantly reduces UV-induced melanin index at 8 weeks after topical application". Madecassoside achieves that, at least partially, by blocking multiple markers of inflammation on skin.
- Source: Madecassoside inhibits melanin synthesis by blocking ultraviolet-induced inflammation.
- Abstract: Madecassoside (MA), a pentacyclic triterpene isolated from Centella asitica (L.), is used as a therapeutic agent in wound healing and also as an anti-inflammatory and anti-aging agent. However, the involvement of MA in skin-pigmentation has not been reported. This study was conducted to investigate the effects of MA on ultraviolet (UV)-induced melanogenesis and mechanisms in a co-culture system of keratinocytes and melanocytes. MA significantly inhibited UVR-induced melanin synthesis and melanosome transfer in the co-culture system. These effects were further demonstrated by the MA-induced inhibition of protease-activated receptor-2 expression and its signaling pathway, cyclooxygenase-2, prostaglandin E2 and prostaglandin F2 alpha in keratinocytes. The clinical efficacy of MA was confirmed on artificially tanned human skin. MA significantly reduced UV-induced melanin index at 8 weeks after topical application. Overall, the study demonstrated significant benefits of MA use in the inhibition of hyperpigmentation caused by UV irradiation.
Does power plate reduce or prevent cellulite?
Cellulite is a combination of superficial fat accumulation, loose skin, water retention, inflammation and subsequent scar tissue build up. Vibration plate training can help improve some of these aspects of cellulite, but does not really cure cellulite. In summary, it helps a bit but it is does not quite live up to the hype.
The science bit (i.e. the good news)
Strong mechanical stimulation such as vibration produced by a vibrating platform does encourage adipocyte apoptosis and fibroblast proliferation and upregulation. In plain English this means that fat cells are encouraged to die off early, whilst at the same time collagen cells are encouraged to replace the dead fat cells and also to increase their production of collagen and elastin (the two proteins that make your skin firm and elastic).
Those two things (fat cell apoptosis and fibroblast stimulation) can have a direct effect on three aspects of cellulite :
- fat (obviously)
- skin firmness (more collagen and elastin = more firmness and elasticity)
- water retention (fluid retention improves because blood vessel walls are made of collagen, elastin and similar proteins, so an improvement in collagen / elastin production would make them stronger and more resilient, thereby decreasing tissue water leakage and therefore water retention; furthermore, the vibration itself directly boosts circulation while you exercise on the powerplate, by stimulating the blood and lymph vessels to contract).
Of course all the above can only be considered as good news for cellulite sufferers: if we believe the hype, all one needs to do to get rid of her cellulite is spend hours on a vibrating platform, right? Well, as always in life, things are not that simple, as we explain in the following paragraph...
The reality bit (i.e. the bad news)
Unfortunately, things are never that simple. Vibration training and other mechanical stimulation does indeed cause the effects mentioned above. However, standing on a vibration platform for more than twenty minutes every other day is not the best thing for other tissues in your body, such as the cartilage found in your knee and hip joints or the retina in the back of your eyes and several other organs, which may be damaged by excessive vibration.
Some people are more sensitive, whilst some others are not - but in some cases you will never know before it's too late. This makes it pretty impossible to safely provide enough stimulation to your cellulite tissues to significantly affect cellulite. Therefore, with twenty minutes you may notice some results, but nothing sensational will ever happen.
In addition, power plate training by it's own is not enough. Vibration does not burn the fat (the most important component of cellulite), it merely disrupts the fat tissue. Any fatty acids released from the cellulite fat tissue will still have to be oxidised (i.e. burned) in your body, otherwise they will simply be re-deposited in fat tissue, including cellulite fat tissue.
So if you believe the countless hyped up articles on the web and expect to lose weight just by standing - or even by doing some light exercise - on a vibration platform, then no, power plate will NOT work. In fact, you are not going to lose any more weight than if you did the same exercises off the vibration plate. To lose actual weight, and to really reduce cellulite, you must do some cardiovascular or resistance exercise before or after your vibration plate training, in order to burn some fat.
The naivety bit (...)
"Well, if I can't stand all day on the vibration machine because it's bad for me, how about sitting or lying on it for less time, so that the machine affects more my cellulite and less my other organs and tissues?", I can hear you saying. Well, this sounds like a logical argument and in fact I have seen many women lying down or sitting down on the power plate in gyms, enjoying the good vibrations and smiling with pleasure...
However, what these women do not realise is that their ovaries, liver, kidneys, adrenals, pancreas and other internal organs don't particularly like vibration. Limited vibration training may be good for connective tissue (bones, ligaments, tendons, cartilage, skin, blood vessels, muscles) but it it detrimental to more fragile tissues, as the ones mentioned above. Quite simply, lying or sitting on the vibration platform will damage your internal organs long before it inflicts any significant damage your belly fat tissue.
Personally, I would prefer to keep my kidneys intact and lose my love handles with other methods, rather than cause damage to my body. This is not scaremongering, it is reality: kidneys for example suffer quite negatively from the effects of vibration, and this has been documented for decades, long before vibration plates became popular. In fact, I would never perform any other exercise on a power plate than squats and lunges. Yep, that's it! Ten minutes every other day and that's it.
Doing sit ups, crunches, push ups and other torso/upper body exercises on a vibration plate are simply:
- Either a waste of time, because not much vibration is transmitted to the right places, as in the case of performing arm curls whilst holding the belts connected to the machine. Or even as in the case of doing sit ups whilst your sitting bones are in contact with the vibration plate.
- Or dangerous, because too much vibration is transmitted to all the wrong places. For example your discs and cartilage found on your wrist joints do not particularly like being vibrated whilst you perform push ups. Neither your ovaries and lumbar discs are happy when you sit or perform ab crunches with you lumbar spine in contact with the vibration plate.
"If that is the case, why do personal trainers teach you such a large variety of exercises on vibration machines and why do gyms offer one-hour vibration plate classes?", I can hear you asking. The answer to those questions can be simply summarised in just a few words: fashion, ignorance, responding to demand, boosting sales, doing what everyone else is doing...
How about localised cellulite treatment based on vibration?
Well, this is the next logical step in our quest to apply the benefits of vibration in the pursuit of cellulite reduction. Several years ago I went down that route, in my quest to offer my clients the best cellulite treatment possible. I used the strongest therapeutic vibration machine available today, a machine popular in the 70s, 80s an d90s, called G5.
I actually went even further and asked the manufacturer to produce an even stronger machine than those available commercially. Predictably, cellulite did decrease and skin firmness did improve, but only at the expense of spider veins (also known as thread veins) appearing on the treated areas...
Since replacing one evil with another is not a good idea, I gave up on localised vibration-based treatments for cellulite. Incidentally, for the exact same reason (plus it's negative effect on skin firmness), I also abandoned roller-suction treatments (treatments that utilise vacuum suction with rolling, also known as palper-rouler treatments) and switched to a manual method for a few years, before finally offering the radiofrequency, ultrasound cavitation and electro-mesotherapy I currently use at my practice.
Bones, tendons and ligaments...
Where vibration platform training really shines, is at boosting bone density and thereby fighting osteoporosis (the reason it was originally developed for) and also at strengthening ligaments, tendons, cartilage and hard connective tissue in general.
This is due to the strong, intermittent gravity effect it provides to those tissues. Skin (including cellulite, which is an actual part of the skin), blood vessels, muscles and fat tissue, being softer connective tissues, still benefit, as we explained above, but not as much as hard tissues benefit.
The effect of vibration plate training is similar to that of acoustic wave therapy (shockwave therapy). Acoustic wave therapy (AWT) latter works well on hard tissues (ideal to help set bones and heal tendons and ligaments) but it is pretty useless for fat / cellulite reduction, despite all the hype created by clever - and misleading - PR.
To maximise the results of your power plate training on ALL your connective tissues, you should consider taking the following collagen-boosting, connective tissue protecting and blood vessel strengthening nutrients orally, in the form of a supplement. Furthermore, local skin application of the same nutrients, in the form of a good anti-cellulite cream that contains those nutrients, will provide a more focused effect on skin, fat and cellulite.
Both local application and oral intake should be done just before, or immediately after, exercise on the vibration plate:
- Centella asiatica
- Vitamin C
- Pine bark extract
- Esculoside / Esculin (horse chestnut extract)
- Proanthocyanidin (horse chestnut extract / cranberry extract)
The moral of the story is...
First of all, stop chasing miracle treatments - they do not exist. Just don't believe the hype.
- Do train up to three times a week on a vibration plate, performing squats and lunges for up to ten minutes. Stick to ten minutes - more is not always better!
- Combine this training with serious diet and cardiovascular exercise for maximum results
- Combine with a good cellulite treatment, ideally just before or immediately after your power plate training.
- Use a quality cellulite cream, ideally one with high concentrations of multiple active ingredients and applying it immediately before or after the training for maximum results
- Do not even think of lying on the machine to lose your love handles, or sit on it to have a firmer bum...
- Comment: In a paper about how obesity affects tendons published today, a group of Italian and Spanish scientists state that advanced glycation end products (AGEs), caused by the consumption of sugar-laden foods, can potentially affect tendons
- This is because AGEs are known to damage the structure and functionality of collagen fibres in tendons, ligaments and skin, along with chronic, sub-clinical low grade inflammation, which also typically accompanies chronic sugar consumption, overweight/obesity and pre-diabetic metabolic syndrome states.
- In these cases, the scientists advise low impact exercise, but we would also add sugar avoidance (most important) and also supplementation with carnosine, which is known to prevent the formation of AGEs in the body.
- Source: How Obesity Affects Tendons?
- Abstract: Several epidemiological and clinical observations have definitely demonstrated that obesity has harmful effects on tendons. The pathogenesis of tendon damage is multi-factorial. In addition to overload, attributable to the increased body weight, which significantly affects load-bearing tendons, systemic factors play a relevant role. Several bioactive peptides (chemerin, leptin, adiponectin and others) are released by adipocytes, and influence tendon structure by means of negative activities on mesenchymal cells. The ensuing systemic state of chronic, sub-clinic, low-grade inflammation can damage tendon structure. Metabolic disorders (diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance, and dislipidemia), frequently associated with visceral adiposity, are concurrent pathogenetic factors. Indeed, high glucose levels increase the formation of Advanced Glycation End-products, which in turn form stable covalent cross-links within collagen fibers, modifying their structure and functionality. Sport activities, so useful for preventing important cardiovascular complications, may be detrimental for tendons if they are submitted to intense acute or chronic overload. Therefore, two caution rules are mandatory: first, to engage in personalized soft training program, and secondly to follow regular check-up for tendon pathology.
- Comment: A new meta-analysis study has found that turmeric is as effective as medication in reduction of pain score in arthritis
- The meta analysis authors stated that the quality of the studies was generally good but more studies of larger sample sizes needs to be conducted for clearer evidence
- In the meantime, sufferers can take 1000mg/day of curcumin, a safe, and economical anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, antioxidant supplement, while waiting for a few of decades for new studies too emerge...
- (Here it is important to note that turmeric has been used for millennia as a relief for inflammation and curcumin has been investigated for it's anti-inflammatory role in almost all human organs and tissues, from skin to bowel to brain)
- Source: Efficacy of Turmeric Extracts and Curcumin for Alleviating the Symptoms of Joint Arthritis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials.
- Abstract: Although turmeric and its curcumin-enriched extracts have been used for treating arthritis, no systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) have been conducted to evaluate the strength of the research. We systemically evaluated all RCTs of turmeric extracts and curcumin for treating arthritis symptoms to elucidate the efficacy of curcuma for alleviating the symptoms of arthritis. Literature searches were conducted using 12 electronic databases, including PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Library, Korean databases, Chinese medical databases, and Indian scientific database. Search terms used were "turmeric," "curcuma," "curcumin," "arthritis," and "osteoarthritis." A pain visual analogue score (PVAS) and Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) were used for the major outcomes of arthritis. Initial searches yielded 29 articles, of which 8 met specific selection criteria. Three among the included RCTs reported reduction of PVAS (mean difference: -2.04 [-2.85, -1.24]) with turmeric/curcumin in comparison with placebo (P < .00001), whereas meta-analysis of four studies showed a decrease of WOMAC with turmeric/curcumin treatment (mean difference: -15.36 [-26.9, -3.77]; P = .009). Furthermore, there was no significant mean difference in PVAS between turmeric/curcumin and pain medicine in meta-analysis of five studies. Eight RCTs included in the review exhibited low to moderate risk of bias. There was no publication bias in the meta-analysis. In conclusion, these RCTs provide scientific evidence that supports the efficacy of turmeric extract (about 1000 mg/day of curcumin) in the treatment of arthritis. However, the total number of RCTs included in the analysis, the total sample size, and the methodological quality of the primary studies were not sufficient to draw definitive conclusions. Thus, more rigorous and larger studies are needed to confirm the therapeutic efficacy of turmeric for arthritis.
- Comment: Forskolin is very well know for it's cAMP production, which normally leads to lipolysis, and also lipolysis itself. This study has found that the lipolytic effect of forskolin is not necessarily based on cAMP production. In fact forskolin stimulates a disproportionate amount of cAMP in relation to lipolysis. However, both cAMP itself as well as lipolysis have applications in the fight against cellulite, so forskolin remains one of the top 5 anti-cellulite actives.
- Source: Relationship between cyclic AMP production and lipolysis induced by forskolin in rat fat cells
- Abstract: Forskolin (7 beta-acetoxy-8, 13-epoxy-1 alpha,6 beta,9 alpha-trihydroxy-labd-14-ene-11-one) induced both cyclic AMP production and lipolysis in intact fat cells, but stimulated lipolysis without increasing cyclic AMP at a concentration of 10(-5) M. Homogenization of fat cells elicited lipolysis without elevation of cyclic AMP. Forskolin did not stimulate lipolysis in the homogenate. Forskolin stimulated both cyclic AMP production and lipolysis in a cell-free system consisting of endogenous lipid droplets and a lipoprotein lipase-free lipase fraction prepared from fat cells. However, at a concentration of 10(-6) M, it induced lipolysis without increase in the cyclic AMP content in this cell-free system. In the cell-free system, homogenization of the lipid droplets resulted in marked increase in lipolysis to almost the same level as that with 10(-4) M forskolin without concomitant increase in cyclic AMP. Addition of forskolin to a cell-free system consisting of homogenized lipid droplets and lipase did not stimulate lipolysis further. Phosphodiesterase activities were found to be almost the same both in the presence and absence of forskolin in these reaction mixtures. Although 10(-3) M forskolin produced maximal concentrations of cyclic AMP: 6.7 x 10(-7) M in fat cells and 2.7 x 10(-7) M in the cell-free system, 10(-4) M cyclic AMP did not stimulate lipolysis in the cell-free system. In a cell-free system consisting of lipid droplets and the lipase, pyrophosphate inhibited forskolin-induced cyclic AMP production, but decreased forskolin-mediated lipolysis only slightly. Based on these results, mechanism of lipolytic action of forskolin was discussed.
- Comment: The venotonic and circulation-enhancing medication Daflon (450m Diosmin + 50g hesperidin) has been effectively used for decades for the relief of poor circulation and vein disease in general. This new paper shows that just 50mg of Pycnogenol, a branded red pine bark extract, has the same effect of vein ulcer healing and circulation improvement / oedema reduction.
- Source: Effect of Pycnogenol on the Healing of Venous Ulcers.
- Abstract: BACKGROUND: Venous ulcers are common complications of chronic venous insufficiency that result in severe physical and mental suffering to patients. The oral administration of diosmin/hesperidin has been used as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency. The purpose of this study was to evaluate and compare the effect of pycnogenol and diosmin/hesperidin on the healing of venous ulcers. METHODS: This longitudinal, prospective, randomized clinical trial was conducted with 30 adult patients with venous ulcers from a vascular surgery outpatient clinic of a university hospital. The patients were randomly allocated to two groups: group 1 (n=15) was treated with pycnogenol (50 mg orally, three-times daily), and group 2 (n=15) was treated with diosmin/hesperidin (450/50 mg orally, twice daily). They were assessed every 15 days for 90 days. During follow-up visits, photo-documentation was obtained and the ulcer area and circumference of the affected limb were measured. Friedman's test and the Mann-Whitney test were used to compare ulcer areas and circumference of affected limbs between and within groups at the different time points. The level of significance was set at 5% (P<0.05) for all tests. RESULTS: Both the pycnogenol and diosmin/hesperidin treatments had a similar effect on the healing of venous ulcers and led to a significant decrease in the circumference of affected limbs (P<0.0001). CONCLUSION: The results suggest that pycnogenol has an adjuvant effect on the healing of venous ulcers, similar to diosmin/hesperidin.
- Comment: Most people think that resveratrol, the active ingredient in blueberries and red wine, is an antioxidant itself. This paper suggests that resveratrol is a mild pro-oxidant instead, which stimulates the cell's Nrf-2 antioxidant capacity. This triggers cells to produce glutathione, the body's most potent detoxification and antioxidant chemical, which in turns fights oxidation and DNA damage.
- However, all the latest research agrees with this finding: polyphenols and carotenoids do not act as antioxidant themselves inside the body, they instead act either as anti-inflammtory or they trigger the Nrf-2 system which then boosts detoxification and antioxidant capacity.
- Source: Hormetic Shifting of Redox Environment by Pro-Oxidative Resveratrol Protects Cells Against Stress
- Abstract: Resveratrol has gained tremendous interest owing to multiple reported health-beneficial effects. However, the underlying key mechanism of action of resveratrol remained largely controversial. Here, we demonstrate that under physiologically relevant conditions major biological effects of resveratrol can be attributed to the generation of oxidation products such as reactive oxygen species (ROS). At low hormetic concentrations (< 50 µM), treatment with resveratrol increased cell viability in a set of representative cell models, whereas application of quenchers of ROS completely truncated these beneficial effects. Notably, application of resveratrol led to mild, Nrf2-specific cellular gene expression reprogramming. For example, in primary human epidermal keratinocytes this resulted in a 1.3-fold increase of endogenous metabolites such as glutathione (GSH) and subsequently in a quantitative reduction of the cellular redox environment by 2.61 mV mmol GSH per g protein. After external application of oxidative stress by using 0.8% (v/v) ethanol, endogenous generation of ROS was consequently reduced by 24% in resveratrol pre-treated cells. In contrast to the common perception that resveratrol acts mainly as a chemical antioxidant or as a target protein-specific ligand, we propose that effects from resveratrol treatment are essentially based on oxidative triggering of cells. In relevant physiological microenvironments this effect can lead to hormetic shifting of cellular defence towards a more reductive state to improve resilience to oxidative stress in a manner that can be exactly defined by the redox-environment of the cell.
- Comment: The turmeric active curcumin stimulates skin cells' antioxidant, detoxification and DNA repair systems to protect against UV-B skin damage
- Source: Protective Effect of Curcumin Against Acute Ultraviolet B Irradiation Induced Photo-damage.
- Abstract: Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiation is one of the most dangerous insults for skin, and causes sunburn, erythema, photoaging and photocarcinogenesis. Curcumin (diferuloylmethane), a yellow spice derived from dried rhizomes of Curcuma longa, has been shown to possess significant anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-mutagenic, anticoagulant and anti-infective effects. However, the protective effects of curcumin against acute photo-damage are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the photo-protective effects of curcumin against UVB induced acute photo-damage in hairless mice and immortalized human keratinocytes (HaCaT). Topical application of curcumin significantly inhibited acute UVB (540 mJ/cm(2) , for 3 successive days)-induced inflammatory cells, collagen accrementition derangement and lipid peroxidation, and effectively induced NF-E2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) nuclear accumulation in Uncovered (Uncv) hairless mice skin. Treatment of HaCaT cells with curcumin significantly attenuated acute UVB (300 mJ/cm(2) )-induced lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) release, intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and DNA damage, activated the expression of the phase II detoxifying enzymes and promoted DNA repair activity. The photoprotective effect provided by curcumin was potential associated with modulation of Nrf2-dependent antioxidant response. Our study suggested that curcumin is a potential agent for preventing and/or treating UV radiation induced acute inflammation and photoaging.
- Comment: Curcumin prevents - and to a lesser extent repairs - damage and toxicity caused by amyloid-beta on nerve cell mitochondria and synapses, thereby helping prevent and improve Alzheimer's disease
- Source: Protective effects of a natural product, curcumin, against amyloid β induced mitochondrial and synaptic toxicities in Alzheimer's disease.
- Abstract: The purpose of our study was to investigate the protective effects of a natural product-'curcumin'- in Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like neurons. Although much research has been done in AD, very little has been reported on the effects of curcumin on mitochondrial biogenesis, dynamics, function and synaptic activities. Therefore, the present study investigated the protective effects against amyloid β (Aβ) induced mitochondrial and synaptic toxicities. Using human neuroblastoma (SHSY5Y) cells, curcumin and Aβ, we studied the protective effects of curcumin against Aβ. Further, we also studied preventive (curcumin+Aβ) and intervention (Aβ+curcumin) effects of curcumin against Aβ in SHSY5Y cells. Using real time RT-PCR, immunoblotting and immunofluorescence analysis, we measured mRNA and protein levels, mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial biogenesis and synaptic genes. We also assessed mitochondrial function by measuring hydrogen peroxide, lipid peroxidation, cytochrome oxidase activity and mitochondrial ATP. Cell viability was studied using the MTT assay. Aβ was found to impair mitochondrial dynamics, reduce mitochondrial biogenesis and decrease synaptic activity and mitochondrial function. In contrast, curcumin enhanced mitochondrial fusion activity and reduced fission machinery, and increased biogenesis and synaptic proteins. Mitochondrial function and cell viability were elevated in curcumin treated cells. Interestingly, curcumin pre- and post-treated cells incubated with Aβ showed reduced mitochondrial dysfunction, and maintained cell viability and mitochondrial dynamics, mitochondrial biogenesis and synaptic activity. Further, the protective effects of curcumin were stronger in pretreated SHSY5Y cells than in post-treated cells, indicating that curcumin works better in prevention than treatment in AD-like neurons. Our findings suggest that curcumin is a promising drug molecule to treat AD patients.
- Comment: The fact that MCTs reduce fat by inducing adipocyte apoptosis makes them ideal as - ideal as topical anti-cellulite cream actives
- Source: Octanoate and decanoate induce apoptosis in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.
- Abstract: The effect of octanoate and decanoate, respectively, eight- and 10-carbon medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs), on apoptotic signaling in 3T3-L1 adipocytes was investigated. 3T3-L1 adipocytes were treated with various concentrations of octanoate or decanoate. Cell viability, apoptosis, and expression of apoptosis-related proteins were investigated. Results indicated that both octanoate and decanoate decreased viability, increased apoptosis, and increased reactive oxygen species production. Immunoblotting analysis showed an increase in the levels of cytoplasmic cytochrome c and cleaved poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase by octanoate and decanoate. Concomitantly, we observed that pro-caspase-3 was decreased, resulting in the induced accumulation of the cleaved form of caspase-3 by both octanoate and decanoate. In addition, both octanoate and decanoate increased the expression of pro-apoptotic Bax with an accompanied decrease of anti-apoptotic Bcl-2. These results show that octanoate and decanoate mediate adipocyte apoptosis via a caspase-dependent mitochondrial pathway in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. MCFAs thus decrease adipocyte number by initiating the apoptotic process in 3T3-L1 adipocytes.
Cellulite does not appear overnight
During the initial assessment and consultation at my practice, quite a few of my new clients tell me that their cellulite has only appeared the last 2-3 months, when it is clearly evident from the assessment that their cellulite has been there for some years, rather than for a few months.
The truth is that, as with anything else in life, if we do not pay attention to something, it just doesn't exist for us. Cellulite is one of those things that does not develop overnight - it usually takes from several months to a few years to develop under the surface, initially as pre-cellulite and later as cellulite-proper.
During that time most women do not normally pay attention to the tissue changes and the tell-tale signs of cellulite-to-be: increased softness, mild puffiness, orange peel skin when pressing the skin or when contracting the buttock muscles (gluteus maximus). And then, when cellulite starts becoming evident, most women still don't pay much attention until it becomes too advanced to be eliminated completely.
The fact is that when cellulite is new and limited, i.e. when it has been evident for less than six months, it can usually be removed completely. However, due to permanent connective tissue distortion inside the skin, cellulite cannot totally be eliminated if it is too severe or if it has been visible for more than six months.
At what time does cellulite start forming?
Cellulite creation is a slow, incipient process that happens little by little without much fanfare, starting in the teenage years. For several years, during your teens and your twenties, cellulite slowly accumulates as you enjoy the artificial, unhealthy Western lifestyle and live the so-called "good life", based on smoking, drinking, eating processed foods, using "the pill" and, for some, abusing illegal or even legal drugs, including diuretics, diet pills and stimulants.
Then suddenly, in your late twenties you realise that you do have some cellulite on your legs after all, but believe that it has "only appeared six months ago". The truth is that cellulite was slowly accumulating for years - sometimes increasing fast and sometimes receding somewhat, according to your lifestyle.
By the time cellulite is firmly established, and therefore visible, it is not just difficult to eliminate but even to reduce, and takes more than reverting to a healthy lifestyle. In that case you most probably need some external help in the form of cellulite treatments, cellulite creams and some proper, cellulite-specific advice on diet and exercise (I am actually amazed of how many of my clients think they eat healthily and exercise a lot, only for me to discover after talking to them for a few minutes that sometimes healthy eating means having bread, butter and jam for breakfast or that exercising a lot means doing pilates a couple of times a week)...
But the most important thing to remember is that prevention is better than cure for cellulite, as it is for any other aesthetic or health condition, and it is never too early (or indeed too late) to start talking care of your body. So start today - do not postpone it for tomorrow!
- Source: Inhibitory effects of coumarins from the stem barks of Fraxinus rhynchophylla on adipocyte differentiation in 3T3-L1 cells.
- Abstract: In the course of screening anti-adipogenic activity of natural products employing the preadipocyte cell line, 3T3-L1 as an in vitro assay system, the EtOAc fraction of the stem barks of Fraxinus rhynchophylla DENCE (Oleaceae) showed significant inhibitory activity on adipocyte differentiation as assessed by measuring fat accumulation using Oil Red O staining. Activity-guided fractionation led to the isolation of six coumarins such as esculetin (1), scopoletin (2), fraxetin (3), fraxidin (4) esculin (5) and fraxin (6). Among the six coumarins isolated, esculetin (1) showed the most potent inhibitory activity on adipocyte differentiation, followed by fraxetin (3). Further studies with interval treatment demonstrated that esculetin (1) exerted inhibitory activity on adipocyte differentiation when treated within 2 d (days 0-2) after differentiation induction. We further investigated the effect of esculetin (1) on peroxisome proliferator activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma), one of the early adipogenic transcription factors. Esculetin (1) significantly blocked the induction of PPARgamma protein expression and inhibited adipocyte differentiation induced by troglitazone, a PPARgamma agonist. Taken together, these results suggest that esculetin (1), an active compound from F. rhynchophylla, inhibited early stage of adipogenic differentiation, in part, via inhibition of PPARgamma-dependent pathway.
Heredity and cellulite
Like any other health and aesthetic condition, cellulite has both genetic and lifestyle components. With the exception of a few severe diseases, genes do not absolutely determine your health and appearance. They act as a guides that merely influence your health and appearance towards one way or another.
In fact, lifestyle factors switch certain genes on and off throughout our life. Typically a healthy lifestyle will switch "good genes" on and leave "bad genes" dormant, and vice versa an unhealthy lifestyle will switch "bad genes" on and may turn "good genes" off.
Furthermore, if a condition depends on more than one gene, then lifestyle becomes even more important, because small lifestyle changes will turn certain good genes on/off, whilst other lifestyle changes will switch bad genes on or off too, thereby creating thousands of possible outcome combinations.
Most conditions belong to that category, i.e. they depend on multiple genes, sometimes hundreds of them. Weight maintenance is said to be controlled by as many as 300 genes, probably more, and this is why it is so difficult to find one pharmaceutical answer to the problem of overweight and obesity.
Cellulite (being a combination of not just fat accumulation, but also water retention, skin looseness, connective tissue deformity, inflammation and toxin infiltration) is controlled by a vast number of genes which are switched on or off in myriad ways, according to small variations in your lifestyle. This is why there are so many different types of cellulite and this is one of the reasons why it is so difficult to treat cellulite with non-personalised approaches.
Don't blame mum!
So next time you see your mum and dad, don't blame them for your cellulite. She only gave you her genes, but you are the one who switches these genes on or off. Every day you stay inactive, every time you consume excessive or unhealthy food, alcohol or stimulants, every time you smoke, even when you use hormonal contraception, you switch on the expression of "bad", cellulite and disease-producing genes and you switch off the expression of your good, health and appearance-enhancing genes.
Vice versa, every time you exercise, eat healthy food and generally respect your body, you switch on the good genes, that protect you from disease, ageing and cellulite. The same applies each time you receive an intensive cellulite treatment or you apply a concentrated cellulite cream - these interventions switch certain genes on/off at a local level, in the same way that foods end exercise switch genes on/off at the whole body level.
Cellulite is not what nature originally intended for human beings and it has no evolutionary meaning. The only reason women have cellulite today more than ever before, is because their lifestyle today is more sedentary, artificial and "calorific" than ever before in history. Cave women certainly did not have cellulite and if you lived all your life as naturally and actively, you would not have any cellulite either - no matter what kind of genes mum gave you.
If lifestyle is so important then why is it that models have no cellulite?
Who said that models have no cellulite? I have treated dozens of glamour and fashion models and most of them do have some degree of cellulite or pre-cellulite. Quite often the cellulite is pretty pronounced but fortunately for them (and unfortunately for the self-esteem of the readers) it is airbrushed in the published photos in magazines.
The only difference between models and "mere mortals" is that models develop cellulite a little bit later in life, due indeed to their good genes. But these good genes can only protect you for so long. After several years of unhealthy lifestyle cellulite eventually catches up with everyone, whether they are "gifted" or not. It is just that the gifted ones escape for a little bit longer, but they definitely do not escape for ever. And we have seen that hundreds of times at the clinic...
What is a contrast shower and how it works
Contrast showers (also known as alternate showers) are showers that use hot and cold water in alternation. Contrast showers are used as mental and physical alertness tonics and as methods of detoxification. With contrast showering the blood and lymph vessels contract when cold water is used and dilate when hot water is used. This creates a pump effect that enhances arterial flow into the tissues, venous return (blood flow from the tissues towards the heart via the veins) and lymphatic drainage (drainage of excess water and waste products from the tissues towards the heart).
As arterial flow is boosted, tissues get nourished and oxygenated. As venous return and lymph drainage are enhanced, more toxins and waste products can find their way out of the tissues and towards the heart, from where they are ultimately directed into the liver and kidneys for detoxification and expulsion from the body.
Do contrast showers affect cellulite?
Contrast showers are a good home remedy for cellulite prevention and, to a lesser extent, celulite reduction. As we explained in another article of this website, cellulite comprises seven components (poor circulation/lymphatic drainage, inflammation, toxin accumulation, skin looseness, fat accumulation, glycation and scar tissue formation). The first 3 of those components are directly or indirectly affected by contrast showers in a favorable way.
As we explained above, contrast showers encourage the blood and lymph vessels to pump more vigorously and thereby increase the diffusion of nutrients and oxygen into the tissues and at the same time also boost the removal of toxins and waste products from the tissues towards the detoxification organs of the body. In addition, metabolic rate of the affected tissues increases and inflammation tends to heal faster. Since toxin and waste product accumulation, inflammation and water retention are important parts of what we call cellulite, it is apparent that contrast showers would help reduce or at least prevent cellulite.
Contrast showers, cold showers and cellulite fat reduction
In addition, since contrast showers boost sympathetic nervous system activity and thereby metabolic rate, they should - to some extent at least - help reduce the most important component of cellulite: fat. We now know that cold stimulates the release of noradrenaline (norepinephrine), the most important fat-releasing hormone of the body. In this case one would be tempted to think that cold showers are better than contrast showers in boosting topical fat loss, but the opposite is true. Continuous norepinephrine release eventually leads to a tolerance effect on the adipocytes, which simply stop responding to it. However, intermittent release, stimulated by a contrast shower, should not cause the same tolerance effect and thereby may be more effective than continuous release stimulated by a cold shower.
How hot showers and contrast showers differ in their effect on the body and cellulite in particular?
The difference between a contrast shower and a hot shower is that with the hot shower arteries and veins dilate leading to more nutrients entering the tissues (which is great), more water entering the tissues (which is not that great...) but less waste products and water leaving the tissues (which is really unwelcome), thereby potentially increasing water retention and inflammation. In addition, hot showers relax the central nervous system and decrease metabolic rate.
Cold showers in contrast, can have an immediate vasoconstricting effect (blood and lymph vessels contract) which boosts drainage and venous return, and therefore can be very effective in removing waste products from the peripheral tissues, but do not create the vigorous pumping effect that contrast showers create, and are therefore less efficient than the latter.
In addition, contrast showers are better tolerated by most people than cold showers, which especially in the winter can be very unpleasant.
Finally, cold showers stimulate the central nervous system and increase metabolic rate but the same effect is produced by contrast showers, as is evidenced by the increased mental alertness and vitality people feel after taking a contrast shower. And as we mentioned a few paragraphs above, the local metabolic rate increase from a contrast shower might be higher than that achieved by a cold shower.
How to have a contrast shower for the whole body
I love contrast showers as they increase my alertness and make me feel vigorous and alive. The way I take them is as follows. If I feel tired and hot, I start with cold water (as cold as I can tolerate) and thoroughly cool down all parts of my body. This usually takes 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Then I switch to hot water (as hot as I can tolerate) and again warm up the whole body, again for anything between 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
In the winter I tend to use hot water for more time and in the summer I tend to use cold water more. I repeat this procedure 2 to 5 times, always listening to signals from my body. I do not force myself to do something that my body doesn’t want and if one day I don’t feel like it I just don’t contrast shower.
At the end of this cycle of intense temperature variations, I calm down my system by using cool water (not cold) followed by luke-warm water (not hot). Finally, I finish with water at exactly the same temperature as my body. So the full routine could be summarized as follows:
- Cold/Hot: x2~5 cycles, ½-3 minutes each
- Cool/Luke warm: x1~2 cycles, ½-3 minutes each
- Neutral: x1~2 minutes
How to apply a contrast shower only on the areas affected by cellulite
If you are only going to “work” only on your thighs and hips then you may skip the cool/luke warm cycle, as well as the neutral part of the routine, so that you achieve maximum effect. For full body contrast showering it is important to somewhat calm down the system, otherwise you may feel cold later, especially in the winter. You may also get over-stimulated. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with really stimulating your thighs only, in fact this is exactly what we want to achieve. And as the stimulation is only localized, you will not feel too cold or too “hyper” with a thigh-and-bottom-only contrast shower.
But be careful, applying a contrast shower to affect the cellulite on the stomach, waist, chest or upper arms, may give you a cold or diarrhea, as these areas are too close your internal organs, which don’t normally like cold. Also, be careful when you work on your inner thighs or the buttocks not to irritate the intimate areas with the cold/hot water sequence.
How to maximize the effects of contrast showers
The best time to apply a good anti-cellulite cream is immediately after a contrast shower, as the hot/cold shower will increase the effectiveness and absorption of the cream. In turn, the best time to have a contrast shower is immediately after exercise, which will produce a synergistic effect and will help remove lactic acid and waste products from the muscles. The best time to body brush is immediate after a contrast shower and immediately before applying a cream. And finally, the best time to have an anti-cellulite treatment is immediately after exercise (as I explain in another article) and immediately before a contrast shower. So the ideal complete routine should be something like this:
- Cellulite cream (optional)
- Cellulite treatment (or self-massage)
- Contrast shower
- Body brushing
- Cellulite cream
You may include or take out of this routine as many or as few steps as you want. This is an ideal routine whose full application depends on time, and also on the cost of the treatments and the creams. Body brushing, as I explain in another article on this site, is not as effective as beauty therapists and journalists want you to believe, and the only reason I suggest it is as an exfoliation method to help increase the absorption of the anti-cellulite cream you may be using.
Maximise your cellulite cream's effectiveness, help prevent cellulite
Neither a contrast shower nor self-massage can replace the effectiveness of a good anti-cellulite treatment, but they cost nothing and can be used as no-cost add-ons to your course of professional cellulite treatments. In addition, by maximizing the absorption and effectiveness of your cellulite cream, a contrast shower will make the money you paid for the cream go further.
And if you don’t have cellulite, why not use contrast showering to offer a pleasant micro-massage to your thighs and buttocks and therefore boost circulation and prevent cellulite? Of course the combination of contrast showers with muffins and caramel macchiatos will not keep the cellulite at bay for long. However, with a reasonable diet, contrast showers will help you prevent cellulite. Generally speaking, the more naughty food you eat (you know, fats, starches, sugars, alcohol) and the more sedentary you are, then the more professional cellulite treatments and use cellulite creams become important, if you ant to avoid cellulite.
Other forms of contrast showering
Athletes and sports people use contrast baths to recover from or prevent sports injuries and post-exercise muscle pain (also known as DOMS - Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness): alternating sauna or steam bath with a cold water plunge is another form of "contrast showering". Some athletes go as far as immersing themselves in a hot bath first and then plunging into a tub filled with ice cubes. I wouldn't advise covering your whole body in ice cubes, unless you know you're fit enough for that,, but immersing your legs in a really cold plunge is a fantastic way to stay firm and smooth.
You must not take very cold, very hot or contrast showers without medical approval if you suffer from a diagnosed or suspected heart disease, circulatory and respiratory conditions, diabetes, asthma, if you have a cold or other infection, if you faint easily and if you are in poor health in general. Contrast showers are very powerful and therefore must be treated with respect. In general, localized contrast showers on the calves and thighs are pretty safe, whilst full body contrast showers produce full body effects and must be treated with even more respect. So if you are uncertain, ask your doctor first before applying the advice contained in this article.
The worst time to have a contrast shower is before going to bed as it will probably keep you awake for some time. One of the best times is to have it first thing in the morning, as it can help you wake up - but only if you are brave enough. Unfortunately, I can only do that in the summer.
No more cellulite myths...
If you, like almost every other woman, are confused about what cellulite is, due to conflicting information found in the press, the internet, or that provided by beauty therapists and doctors alike, then read on: this page is for you.
90% of women will develop cellulite at some point in their lives. There are hundreds of anti-cellulite creams around but 90% of those creams don't really work. 90% of beauty salons offer some sort of cellulite treatment. And 90% of those treatments fail to offer you anything more than a slight, temporary reduction for the so called cottage cheese skin or orange peel skin (peau d' orange) appearance. And the obvious question is, why?
To find out why, we first have to have a clear knowledge of what cellulite is exactly and what causes it, so that we can determine what is the reason for most treatments failing to offer results, and more crucially how to devise an effective cellulite reduction program.
So what is cellulite exactly?
Cellulite is scientifically defined as Oedematous Fibrosclerotic Superficial Panniculitis (OFSB). In plain English this means: inflammation of the superficial deposits of fat, accompanied by water retention and scar tissue.
(Fat pouch) peaks and (collagen strand) troughs
To start explaining how the whole thing develops, it's worth noting that fat underneath the skin is always enclosed in little compartments wrapped up by a thin film of connective tissue (connective tissue is made of collagen, elastin and other proteins). These fat pouches are literally suspended by connective tissue strands that attach them to each other and anchor them to the surface of the skin above and other tissues below. This forms a three-dimensional suspension structure.
Now, its also worth noting that fat cells can swell several times their normal size. As these fat pockets enlarge with excess fat and water, they expand and push the skin surface upwards.
On the other hand, the connective tissue stands that connect the surface of the skin above with tissues below, become get injured, scarred and eventually contracted and shortened, pulling the skin down in the process.
The peaks (caused by fat pushing the skin out) and troughs (caused by connective tissue stands pulling the skin down) cause the mattress appearance we call cellulite (see photo below).
A web of complications - literally and metaphorically
Now the problem with cellulite is the sheer number of complicated negative feedback mechanisms that occur in the affected tissues:
- water retention inhibits fat removal, but does not prevent fat accumulation ("fat trap" effect)
- an excess of adenosine and alpha2 adrenoreceptors in the fat tissue, due to chronic exposure to estrogen, inhibits fat removal, but does not prevent fat accumulation ("fat trap" effect)
- water retention boosts inflammation - and vice versa
- inflammation causes fibrosis
- oxidative damage causes inflammation
- glycation (protein damage due to excess dietary sugars) causes fibrosis
- enlarged fat pushes cause fibrosis
- hypoxia (low oxygen levels due to poor circulation) causes fibrosis
- hypoxia causes fat tissue inflammation
- anti-nutrients and toxins from food and cigarettes also cause fat tissue inflammation
- glycation also causes oxidative damage
- ever expanding fat tissues break down the connective tissue around them, causing skin looseness / "flabbiness"
- ever expanding fat tissues inhibit circulation
As you can see, it just goes on and on and on... One complication causes another, which causes another, which causes another, and the whole thing becomes a never ending vicious circle that must be broken at various points, if we want to make some real progress with cellulite reduction. Breaking this web at just one point is pointless.
A comprehensive approach is needed
After reading the above, it also becomes quite clear how pathetic those caffeine-only cellulite creams sound; or the pointless "cellulite exercises"; or the ridiculous "fat melting" tights; or "body brushing"; or the so called "detox diets"; or some "gentle manual lymph drainage massage" etc.
- Reducing food intake is, by itself, not enough either, as evidence shows
- And the same applies to exercise, as every woman knows
- A bit of lymphatic drainage to (very temporarily) reduce water retention is clearly nowhere near enough. And let's not even talk about the joke practice of "body brushing"...
- Some caffeine cream to marginally boost fat removal and circulation will not do either. Otherwise, with the amounts of coffee women drink today, there would be no such a thing as cellulite. Caffeine does help, but on it's own is not even close enough to effectively remove cellulite. And let's not even mention the sheer time-wasting ritual of rubbing coffee scrubs on your legs.
- A good cellulite cream must contain actives which are widely established to work against many, if not all aspects of cellulite: fat AND poor circulation AND oxidative damage AND glycation AND fibrosis AND inflammation AND skin laxity.
- And the same applies to treatments: a good cellulite treatment should work on both skin laxity AND fat reduction AND poor circulation (there is no known technology that directly works on inflammation, fibrosis, oxidative damage and inflammation).
- And all these have to be combined with clean eating, vigorous exercise and smoke/alcohol avoidance, if some good results are to be expected.
That's how cellulite is reduced.
Why is protein so important for cellulite prevention and skin firmness?
All the body tissues that give you shape and make you look young and firm are made of protein. Your skin and other connective tissues are made of proteins such as elastin and collagen. Elastin offers elasticity whilst collagen provides firmness. A high protein skin level keeps you toned and fit, whilst a high water and fat level makes your skin look and feel loose, puffy and "cellulite-y" (loose skin, excess fat and water retention are the three hallmarks of cellulite).
Several lifestyle factors can degrade your skin and connective tissue proteins, both in terms of quality and quantity, creating skin looseness and cellulite in the process. The list below outlines the 10 most important things to avoid in order to maintain your skin and connective tissue protein integrity and consequently keep your skin firm and cellulite-free.
Keep very active - even if you do not consume excessive calories
You may already know that your body is very economical with fat: it does everything possible in it's power to maintain it's fat levels in order to be able to cope with starvation in the future. This is what helped us survive over the millennia and this is also what makes it so difficult to lose fat these days of plenty.
However, your body is not frugal only with fat, it is economical with protein too: maintaining protein tissue is metabolically very expensive for the body and if your body does not need a specific tissue it slowly breaks it down in order to reduce "maintenance costs". A business might call this "downsizing". In layman's terms this is called "if you don't use it, you lose it", and it applies not just to muscle but also to capillaries and skin.
So every time you sit on your bum in the office, or lie on the couch watching TV, you send a signal to your body to downsize: being immobile, you need less muscle tissue, less skin tissue, less ligament tissue, less tendon tissue, less blood capillary tissue, less lymphatic capillary tissue and less bone tissue. Who needs firmness and strong bones if there is no movement-induced vibration to utilise this firmness against? And who needs strong blood vessels if they are hardly ever used in a vigorous way? You might as well be a "blob": that would be very economical for your body and that's what it actually becomes after chronic immobilisation.
So as you understand, general physical activity and exercise are not important just to burn excess calories, they are also important because they send the right messages to your body to build new protein tissue and repair the existing one, thereby stimulating your body to maintain a firm skin, tones muscles, strong bones and an effective capillary network.
However, it's not only inactivity that make you lose protein form your tissues. Alcohol stimulates the production of cortisol, the stress hormone, a catabolic hormone that stimulates the removal of protein from the body. In addition, cortisol stimulates the creation of new fat cells in your abdominal area - hence the "beer belly".
Avoid excessive calorie intake
And it doesn't end here either. As adipocytes (fat cells) expand, they physically break down the connective tissue matrix around them in order to accommodate the extra calories that you stuff them with. Remember, what you call firmness depends on connective tissue (made of protein), and allowing your fat cells to expand and break this tissue down means more skin laxity.
Use non-hormonal contraception
Being on the pill, therefore having excessive estrogen in your system, helps expand your fat cells and leads to further skin laxity.
Cigarette smoke, contains chemicals that cause free radicals and inflammation which damage your connective tissue and blood vessels. Smoking doesn't just cause cancer and heart disease, but skin ageing and poor circulation on your thighs as well.
Keep off hydrogenated fats (trans fatty acids)
Nasty trans-fats, fried oils and other dietary and environmental toxins disturb cellular function, cause inflammation and free radical damage and therefore have a negative effect on connective tissue, including your skin and your blood vessels. This is why fried food and hydrogenated fats are leading causes of heart disease. Trans fats are contains in frying oils, margarines and margarine-rich foods such as pasties, croissant, muffins etc.
Avoid sugar and sugary foods
Sugar is the number one cause of cellulite today, not only because of the excess calories it provides, it's addictive nature and the fluctuations in insulin levels and the insulin resistance that it causes. Sugar and overcooked starches also cause connective tissue degradation and ageing through a process called glycation.
Avoid nutrient deficiency
Lack of connective tissue-specific nutrients (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, aminoacids) caused by nutrient-poor, calorie-rich diets cause connective tissue deterioration on skin (leading to skin looseness) and on blood vessels (leading to poor circulation and water retention), further worsening the appearance and health of your legs and buttocks.
Avoid wearing tight clothes
Wearing tight clothes restricts your circulation and lymphatic drainage and makes it difficult to remove excess water and waste products from the tissues, leading to inflammation and water retention.
Fat would also have a tendency to "hang around" in the tissues and not be removed, even if you were on a fat loss diet, thereby making the diet less efficient for your cellulite. Graduated compression garments are an exception to this rule because they actually boost circulation and lymphatic drainage due to the pressure gradient between the extremities and the torso, but in any case they should not be worn for more than 8 hours a day.
Avoid crash dieting and yoyo dieting at all costs
Follow a crash diet and you will certainly lose protein from your skin, which will then be replaced by fat when you regain your weight, thereby replacing firmness with flab. Do this yo-yo dieting for several years and surprise yourself with how loose your skin has become.
Do vibration plate training - lots of it
Vibration platform training (also known as power plate) is the strongest form of skin firming, connective tissue building exercise. It helps boost skin, blood vessel, tendon, ligament and bone connective tissue, protein levels and firmness.
All you need to do is stand (NEVER sit or lie) for 20' on the machine, either doing squats or just checking your Facebook messages - whatever you do the vibration will stimulate skin firming on the above tissues. If you exercise at the same time, all the better, as you all build more leg muscle. If not, it's still works.
Personally, I do my heavy weights separately and then go on the vibration plate in the end, as a way of relaxing and boosting circulation / waste product removal from my body.
And most importantly, eat enough protein!
I cannot emphasis this enough: most women simply do not get enough proteins, not just vegans and vegetarians. For some reason, protein got a bad name in the 90s by ill-informed nutritionists, dieticians and naturopaths, who thought that excess protein is not needed and the body can survive with very little protein. The truth is, that although the body can survive with little anything, it cannot thrive with lack of resources. 1-2g/kg of body weight will NOT cause kidney damage, as the prophets of doom mentioned above claim and are absolutely fine.
Skin, muscle organs, even bone are all made to a large extent of protein, and if you do not provide your body with enough protein daily, yes, it will hold on to existing, denatured, partially damaged protein, in order to survive. This basically means low protein tissue repair, which in beauty terms is translated as ageing.
So, go on and tuck into this chicken, fish, red meat, eggs, yoghurt and pulses! And if you are vegan or vegetarian do not buy into the myth that nuts, tofu and especially quinoa contain enough protein, they don't! These days there are plenty of high quality, highly concentrated vegan protein powders made of rice, peas, hemp and even cranberries. Having such a protein drink once or twice a day will provide you with all the protein you need, without having to resort to binging on tofu day in, day out, for eternity. We all know now that tofu, and soya in general, is not the health food we are brainwashed to believe it is...
Non vegetarians can also benefit from the same vegan protein powders, or can also have whey, casein, egg protein too, as well as hydrolysed collagen supplements, which are indeed proven to help with skin firmness.
The contribution of cellulite creams and skin firming treatments
The above is a pretty exhaustive list of things you can do yourself to avoid losing your skin firmness and keeping cellulite at bay.
In addition to these measures you can also consider receiving regular high-intensity deep tissue radiofrequency treatments, the strongest skin tightening / firming technology known today.
Furthermore, a comprehensive, highly concentrated cream which contains multiple skin firming ingredients can also be of help.
The combination of cream, treatment and the above 12 measures is guaranteed to boost skin firmness and keep cellulite at bay.
What are the main causes of cellulite?
The following diagram graphically displays the main causes of cellulite:
Why did you present "natural estrogen" as one of the major cellulite-causing factors?
Estrogen is the reason women develop cellulite and men don't. This is because estrogen stimulates the proliferation (multiplication) of adipocytes (fat cells) in the subcutaneous tissue (lower part of the skin) of the thighs and butt, and sometimes that of the calves, stomach and upper arms. Without estrogen those cells do not proliferate excessively and therefore you don't develop fat pockets underneath your skin. Men who eat too much or sit on their bum may become fat or flabby, respectively, but do not normally develop cellulite. Men only develop cellulite when their body starts secreting excess estrogen. This only happens when they become overweight and/or old and their body transforms too much testosterone into estrogen, via a process called aromatisation, or when they change sex (male to female transexual).
Needless to say, of course, that the worse type of estrogen, both in regard to cellulite and cancer, is artificial estrogen, in the form of contraceptive pill (mentioned above as an even stronger cellulite factor than natural oestrogen), xenoestrogens from plastics and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Furthermore, pregnancy is a leading cause of cellulite due to the very high estrogen levels secreted by the body during that period.
Why did you mention inactivity separately to "calorie surplus" as a cellulite-causing factor? Isn't it all the same?
Nope. Even if you a follow a perfectly healthy diet you will still develop cellulite if you sit on your bum all day. This is because inactivity causes the proliferation of adipocytes at the expense of fibroblasts (collagen cells), regardless of calorie surplus or not. This simply makes you flabbier and fatter on the surface, i.e. more cellulite-y. In addition, inactivity slows down your blood circulation and lymphatic drainage, further exacerbating cellulite.
Similarly, if you exercise a lot but your eating/drinking habits are so excessive that you manage to accumulate a calorie surplus every day, you will also develop cellulite, regardless of how much you exercise.
To be precise, it is binge eating/drinking in combination with inactivity on the same day that causes the most damage, rather than a small daily surplus throughout the year. This is because under those circumstances your body literally "dumps" the excessive calories straight into your fat cells - including your "cellulite fat cells" that by nature are designed to act as fat traps.
What about heredity?
Heredity also plays a role, but to develop cellulite you do need excess calories and/or inactivity, PLUS estrogen, the main preconditions. I am certain that cave women did not have cellulite, regardless of their mum's genes, simply because they did not have access to doughnuts, computers, estrogenic chemicals from plastics and chemical contraception, among the other presents of modern civilisation. You simply cannot develop cellulite if you walk all day and eat loads of veg and lean mean, fish, berries and nuts - like our stone age ancestors did.
Why is caffeine shown as a minor cellulite-causing factor?
Because it is. Caffeine can potentially cause cellulite INDIRECTLY, due to the stimulation-exhaustion-stimulation pattern it's cyclical use causes to your metabolism, and possibly due to your kidneys becoming dependent on it for water elimination, leading to water retention. However, the evidence on both issue is quite thin.
On the other hand, caffeine is well-known as an anti-fibrotic chemical, and that should be protective against cellulite, to some extent at least.
So, in summary, I would say that only excessive caffeine may cause cellulite, and that is not even a major cause of cellulite, anyway.
OK, now that I know what causes cellulite what can I practically do to reduce it?
Well, avoiding the causes is always a good start! So start by eating healthily (organic, if possible), exercising a lot and avoiding chemical contraception, smoking and excessive drinking. And then add to the mix a quality anti-cellulite cream and, if possible, some intensive cellulite treatments.
And if you are 22, just remember that prevention is always better than cure - you will not remain 22 years' old forever :)
- Vigorous exercise (such as running, interval running, cycling/spinning, fast swimming etc.) provides the most potent lipolytic (fat releasing) stimulus in the body. This stimulus is much stronger than any drug could ever provide. And contrary to drugs, exercise is good for you and free of side-effects.
- However, the fat release stimulus of exercise is applied on the whole body. You cannot reduce fat on a specific area by exercising the adjacent muscles. Even worse, areas that suffer from poor lymph drainage (such as the cellulite tissues) actually benefit less from the lipolytic effects of exercise than circulation-rich tissues.
- That's where a strong cellulite treatment, such as high intensity, deep tissue radiofrequency, comes into play. A strong radiofrequency treatment releases fat from SPECIFIC fat cells, and also increases LOCAL circulation, which helps remove that fat away from the cellulite tissues and into the general circulation, where it can be burned for energy by the muscles.
- The synergy is obvious: both exercise and radiofrequency stimulate fat release from fat cells and they both both boost circulation, making sure fat is taken away from the fat cells and into the muscles, and then the muscles burn this fat for energy. However, radiofrequency ensures fat is taken away from SPECIFIC fat tissue sites and circulation is boosted in that SPECIFIC fat tissue, two things which cannot happen with exercise. Not bad!
- It would be perfect if you were able to run and have radiofrequency at the same time, but as this is impossible, you can compromise by having a your radiofrequency session (or a session of any other strong anti-cellulite treatment, such as high intensity ultrasound) just before or after exercise.
- Perfectionists can have treatment both before and after :)
What is the ultimate fate of toxins, fat and waste products that are removed from cellulite and other tissues by cellulite treatments?
Different cellulite and water retention treatments help remove toxins, excess water, fat and waste products from the superficial tissues of the legs, arms and stomach, including the so-called cellulite tissues.
Since a lot of press articles and promotional material misinform the public as to what happens to the fat, water and toxins that are removed from the tissues by cellulite/lymph drainage treatments, we thought it would be a good idea to clarify the matter and provide accurate information.
First of all, it is important to note that not all treatments are efficient in removing fat, water and toxins from the tissues, especially in relation to the money and time you spend per treatment. But for the sake of argument let's assume that you were lucky/smart enough to chose a time- and cost-effective treatment that does indeed help your body remove fat, water and waste products from the tissues.
Stage 1 : From tissues to heart
As soon as fat is released from the adipocytes (fat cells) it enters the so called intercellular space where it accumulates waiting to enter a vein or lymph capillary. If your circulation/lymph drainage is poor then fat quite often re-enters the fat cell and nothing happens: you're still stuck with excess fat in your fat cell. If your circulation is good, or if it is effectively stimulated by your anti-cellulite/water retention treatment, then the fat molecules enter the vein or lymph capillaries.
The intercellular spaces also contain waste products, toxins and quite often excess water. Again, if your natural lymphatic drainage/blood circulation is efficient or effectively stimulated by your treatment, these substances also enter the lymph/vein capillaries, otherwise they stay in your tissues.
As soon as interstitial fluid enters the lymphatic capillaries it is called lymph. Lymph in the lymphatic capillaries is moved to the larger lymph vessels of the leg towards the inguinal lymph glands in the groin. From there it ultimately enters the "thoracic duct", a large lymphatic trunk underneath your abdominal organs. From there, lymph drains into a vein on the base of your neck (at a junction called terminus) and enters the heart. Similarly, lymph from the arm tissues reach the axillary lymph glands in your armpit, enter a vein on the base of the neck and also reach the heart.
If the fluid enters a vein capillary it mixes with - and becomes part of - the vein blood. In the same way lymph is transported towards the heart, waste products from the veins of the legs, enter larger veins and eventually enter the heart.
Stage 2: From the heart to kidneys, liver, muscles and (god forbid...) back to your fat cells
From the heart, waste products and toxins eventually end up in the kidneys/liver where they are expelled by the body in the form of urine/faeces, respectively. Water is expelled by the kidneys as urine, by the lungs as part of the breath, and by the skin as sweat. This process is more efficient if the liver detoxification system and your kidneys function well. In addition, if you exercise/eat healthily lymphatic drainage is also more effective, and adds to the efficiency of the treatment, thereby increasing the efficiency of your treatment.
However, contrary to tabloid wisdom, glossy promotional brochures and internet misinformation, fat is NOT expelled by the body through the kidneys or the liver. It would be pathological if such a thing were to happen. In fact, fat finds it's way into muscles, organs or (other) fat cells. If you happen to spend more calories than you ingest, most of that fat will be oxidised ("burned") in your muscles and organs for energy. Conversely, if you consume more calories than your body needs, most of the fat will end up back to your fat cells (including the cellulite fat cells).
Yes, that's right. A cellulite treatment is not enough to effectively remove cellulite fat - you also need to exercise and restrict your calories in order to lose cellulite! Fat cannot be burned onsite by a cellulite machine or cream, neither it is removed by the faeces or urine. Also, fat is definitely impossible to sweat out through the skin with the aid of a body wrap or by going into a sauna (including far-infrared saunas). And if any promotional brochure, press article or website states so, the author they are simply lying or are grossly misinformed...
Beer, carbs, alcohol and glycaemic index
Different types of alcohol have different effects on the body, depending on their alcohol and carbohydrate content. Beer seems to be one of the worst types of alcoholic drinks you can have, as it contains a high amount of high GI carbohydrates, in addition to alcohol. Because of this combination of the extremely high glycemic index carbs (GI=110) and alcohol - and quiet often the fattening, greasy, salty food that goes together with it - drinking beer is a recipe for belly fat and cellulite.
Why exactly is beer so fattening?
The glycaemic index describes the speed at which a food raises blood glucose levels (i.e. blood sugar levels) and, as a consequence, blood insulin levels. High glycemic index foods raise blood sugar levels very quickly and lead to an abrupt raise of blood insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone secreted by your pancreas to stimulate the absorption of nutrients (fat, glucose, aminoacids) by your cells, including your stomach fat cells and cellulite fat cells.
In addition, alcohol raises the levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is another fattening hormone, which is actually even more potent when combined with insulin. Cortisol is also a catabolic hormone, meaning that it leads to the loss of protein from tissues, thereby weakening your skin, connective tissue and blood vessels, thereby causing skin looseness and fluid retention.
Cellulite is primarily superficial fat, lack of firmness and water retention and alcohol, especially beer, causes all three of them!
Does that mean I have to quit beer altogether?
Well, why not? Wine is a much better alternative, especially red wine that contains antioxidants such as resveratrol, which to some extent balance the negative effects of the alcohol it contains - as long as you don't consume more than two small glasses (125ml) at any one day, and you don't make it a habit to drink those 1~2 glasses every single day.
Otherwise, if you love beer so much, make sure you don't drink excessively, don't have fattening food with it, choose a light beer (i.e. one with less alcohol and/or less carbohydrate content) and try to burn the calories the same evening - not the day after, when it will all be too late. Needless to say that if you care about the smoothness of your thighs and stomach, beer with fish and chips is not a good idea, neither eating a kebab at 3am after 6 pints of beer...
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