Me­gan Shep­pard

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

Do you have a ques­tion for Me­gan Shep­pard? Email it to feel­good@ex­am­ or send a let­ter to: Feel­good, Ir­ish Ex­am­iner, Linn Dubh, As­sump­tion Road, Black­pool, Cork

I am 31 years old and have just started to no­tice cel­lulite, par­tic­u­larly on my thighs. I have never had any trou­ble with this be­fore. I have a healthy BMI and have no problems with my weight. Can you please tell me what I can do to stop this from spread­ing? >> Ev­ery­body has fatty re­serve ar­eas in the breasts, but­tocks, thighs, up­per arms, and belly. What hap­pens with cel­lulite is that fluid waste prod­ucts are ac­cu­mu­lated in th­ese ar­eas, caus­ing a dim­pled ap­pear­ance.

As you have dis­cov­ered, cel­lulite does not dis­crim­i­nate when it comes to body size. It is more of an in­di­ca­tion of diet and life­style than weight or BMI.

While men and women can de­velop cel­lulite, it is far more com­mon in women due to the struc­ture of the sub­cu­ta­neous fat tis­sue. Men have a thin­ner top layer of sub­cu­ta­neous fat than women, and their fat cells are con­structed in an in­ter-crossed layer. In women, this layer con­sists of larger cells in an up­right po­si­tion which are sep­a­rated by curved con­nec­tive tis­sue walls. It is th­ese walls that pro­trude and cause the “or­ange-peel” ap­pear­ance on the skin.

Lym­phatic fluid is an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion when it comes to cel­lulite — there is al­most triple the amount of lym­phatic fluid in our bodies as there is blood. It not only helps to re­move cel­lu­lar de­bris and tox­ins, it also helps with fight­ing off dis­ease.

Dry skin brush­ing each morn­ing with a nat­u­ral bris­tle body brush will help ac­ti­vate the lymph and re­duce cel­lulite. Use brisk strokes and al­ways work to­wards the heart. You can also stim­u­late the re­lease of flu­ids that can cause cel­lulite build up by adding es­sen­tial oils such as ju­niper, grape­fruit, fen­nel, cy­press, and eu­ca­lyp­tus to a base oil and mas­sag­ing them into your skin — for ex­tra lymph stim­u­la­tion you can add sugar to make a scrub.

Move­ment is also cru­cial in the preven­tion of cel­lulite since the body uses fat as fuel. When we don’t get enough ex­er­cise, the fat is stored. Great anti-cel­lulite ex­er­cises in­clude skip­ping, jump­ing on a tram­po­line, walk­ing, cy­cling, swim­ming, and other forms of aer­o­bic ex­er­cise. Foods to avoid in­clude ex­ces­sive sugar, dairy, meat, deep fried and pro­cessed/re­fined foods.

Whole foods, lo­cally grown and or­ganic where pos­si­ble, with a high in­take of raw fruit and veg­eta­bles, will help to move the tox­ins and wastes from your en­tire sys­tem, in­clud­ing the fatty re­serves. Pure water is also es­sen­tial in help­ing to flush out tox­ins.

I bought some maca re­cently to help in­crease my en­ergy lev­els. How much should I be tak­ing, and what is the best way to take it? >> Maca (Le­pid­ium meyenii) is a cru­cif­er­ous root veg­etable found in the Peru­vian Cen­tral An­des. It has been used nu­tri­tion­ally and medic­i­nally in South Amer­ica since In­can times. You are quite right in that maca can help to im­prove en­ergy lev­els, but it also helps as a mood booster.

A pow­er­ful an­tiox­i­dant, maca root con­tains ap­prox­i­mately 100 times the lev­els found in other cru­cif­er­ous crops. Not only is it a com­plete pro­tein, it is rich in vi­ta­mins and min­er­als — in­clud­ing zinc and cal­cium. Maca is also great for bal­anc­ing hor­mones, en­hanc­ing sex drive (in males and fe­males), and sup­port­ing fer­til­ity.

You can eas­ily add this su­per­food to a smoothie or bliss balls. As far as a daily dosage goes — start with half to one tea­spoon­ful and in­crease lit­tle by lit­tle each day un­til you can com­fort­ably take a daily dose of one to two ta­ble­spoons. Com­bin­ing maca pow­der with banana, four to six dates, vanilla, honey, cin­na­mon, one tea­spoon of tahini, and a cup of water makes a lovely smoothie loaded with health ben­e­fits.

To make bliss balls, com­bine the maca pow­der with a cup of any soaked dried fruit, half a cup of soaked nuts, quar­ter of a tea­spoon of ground cloves, one tea­spoon of cin­na­mon, and an optional quar­ter to half a tea­spoon of flavour essence. Blend in a food pro­ces­sor and roll in co­conut, carob or ca­cao. Store in the fridge.

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