DEAR DR. BLONZ: I've been wondering about the connection between cellulite and whole-food juicing. I am not overweight, and my concern is whether my juicing might be causing the cellulite in my upper thighs and lower gut area. I juice produce, mainly carrots and cucumbers, averaging about 12 ounces per serving. I eat a balanced diet and I exercise, but I heard that cellulite is caused by sugars, and I want to know if my intake of natural sugars might have caused it. -- S.F., San Diego
DEAR S.F.: "Cellulite," a non-medical term used to describe the lumpy, orange-peel-textured skin that develops around the hips and thighs in some people, was popularized more than 40 years ago by author Nicole Ronsard. Cellulite was all the rage back then, with books, diets, devices, exercise equipment and unique routines claiming success at controlling it.
While many dislike its appearance, there is nothing dangerous about cellulite, which develops when the connective tissue attached to the skin and underlying muscles tightens over areas where fatty deposits can then protrude.
There may be a genetic tendency toward cellulite, and both men and women can develop it. But, because men tend to have naturally thicker skin (hold your comments, please!), with fat cells arranged differently, cellulite tends to be more noticeable in women. One commonly held belief is that exercising specific muscles or losing excess fat will decrease the lumpiness. This may have some intuitive logic, but not everyone with cellulite is out of shape or needs to lose weight. (Read more about cellulite at b.link/6resx274.)
Vegetable juices -- especially those made fresh -- are a great way to add nutrients to the diet, and they provide wonderful flavor and aromas. I enjoy them. A cup of carrot juice contains 94 calories and 22 grams of carbohydrates and is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including carotenoid antioxidants, which are a proven health asset. Cucumbers are a great source of potassium, magnesium, silicon and its own family of phytochemicals.
Don't be misled by fears that all food calories turn to fat, especially those from your juicing ingredients. Our bodies are designed to not waste anything that can be stored for later use. Fat forms when absorbed energy (calories) enters the system when there's already sufficient energy on hand. Because we eat only for short periods during the 24-hour day, there will always be times when we absorb more calories than we need at that moment. The human body evolved to be efficient at shifting energy around and changing its forms as needed.
One suggestion I have is to drink your juice slowly, as part of a meal, which will regulate your digestion and reduce the possibility of overeating. Slower eating can temper the rate of sugars and other digestible carbohydrates, raising your blood sugar level and stimulating insulin release.
Send questions to: "On Nutrition," Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.