Cellulite is a frustrating issue that many women go to great lengths to banish, often spending impressive sums of money on creams and expensive treatments that accomplish tiny, temporary improvements at best. I still remember when my 14-year-old cousin was featured in an “after” shot for a cellulite cream. Clearly there wasn’t much truth in that advertising! Cellulite tends to defy a lot of seemingly logical solutions. Women can lose significant amounts of weight, and the cellulite lingers. Naturally skinny women can be plagued by cellulite. Genetics predispose some women to an unfair disadvantage in this area, but predisposition is not destiny. Those with genes stacked against them can still see visible improvement when they provide the body with necessary resources to fight the cellular breakdown.
What exactly is cellulite? Most of us are familiar with its external manifestation: dimply, lumpy, pitted skin that faintly resembles an orange peel. Not very attractive! It can make an otherwise beautiful woman tremendously self-conscious. It’s among the most hated and stubborn body complaints. Cellulite forms when subcutaneous herniated fat begins to bulge though the connective tissue of the dermis. It is estimated to affect 80-90% of adult women, and very few men. The reason cellulite is found almost exclusively on women is because female hormones trigger a structural organization of subdermal fat cells that allows for greater fat deposition with less support from fibrous connective tissue. In fact, those males who do exhibit cellulite tend to suffer from feminizing hormonal disorders. Throughout the life cycle, cellulite appears or increases at significant hormonal markers: puberty, pregnancy and menopause.
An increase in cellulite post-pregnancy is particularly intense because the hormonal impact is coupled with a nutritional drain on the mother. The baby will take what he/she needs from the mother’s body, including primary nutrients that support the health of connective tissue, such as collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid and glucosamine. It’s a perfect storm of increased hormones, increased fat and decreased nutrient availability that weakens mom’s connective tissue. This leaves many new moms with an unwelcome bonus of additional cellulite on the butt and thighs even after losing the baby weight. I know – just what you all wanted to hear! Don’t despair just yet…
There are several natural strategies to strengthen connective tissue, improve circulation, and flush toxins. For the best results, I recommend embracing all of these steps as they work best synergistically. Over a matter of weeks and months, these changes can lead to noticeable improvements that will leave you looking better naked and feeling more confident at the beach.
Eat this! Incorporate these collagen-building foods into your diet:
Collagen rich bone broth: animal based, see my recipe and instructions in The Dia Method 3 Phase Fat Burn Plan.
Animal protein: chicken, liver, whole eggs, salmon, sardines, mackerel, beef, shellfish, crab, tuna (avoid Albacore because it’s high in mercury), full fat dairy.
Natural fats: grass-fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, almonds and macadamia nuts.
Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, onions, red peppers, leafy greens, raw carrots… and virtually all low-starch vegetables (see the postnatal nutrition guide for a full list).
Fruits: berries, cherries, citrus, red grapes, apples, pomegranates.
Other: very dark chocolate (70%+), red wine, green tea, fermented foods (sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt, kefir).
Don’t eat that! Avoid foods that spike blood sugar, inflammation and toxic fat accumulation:
Refined carbohydrates (white flour)
All sugars and chemical sweeteners (stevia is ok)
Juices (even 100% juice)
Trans fats (anything that’s hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated)
Burnt foods (especially charred meats)
And yes, EXERCISE!
Regular exercise, both aerobic and strength training, can help reduce and prevent cellulite by improving circulation of nutrients to cells in need of fortification. Exercise also helps to balance hormones and stabilize blood sugar, both of which are particularly important after pregnancy. Interspersing your Dia Method workouts with a favorite cardio routine a few times a week will keep circulatory and lymph systems flowing as you tighten and tone your muscles.
Supplements to rev up repair:
Adding a few supplements to a diet rich in the foods I listed above can additionally boost the production of collagen and elastin to improve the health of your skin and connective tissue, especially if you’re working to reverse significant cellulite accumulation. Always check with your doctor before adding any new supplement to your regimen. The first four below are most important.
Gelatin (Great Lakes Gelatin is a good brand)
Cod liver oil (Carlson is a good brand)
B vitamins in a whole food complex (Mega Foods is a good brand)
Loofah for lymph flow
Brushing the skin with a dry bristle brush or loofah can facilitate circulation and lymph flow to detoxify the body. Always start from the extremities and brush in small strokes toward the heart. Proper technique helps circulate nutrients to the cells for important cellular repair while releasing stored toxins. Please note: if breastfeeding, wait to incorporate this step until the child is weaned.
If you’ve been struggling with cellulite accumulation for years and feel you’ve tried everything, don’t give up! A deeply nourished body with healthy circulation will repair damaged cells and gradually restore strength and integrity to the subdermal connective tissue. You will see and feel noticeable improvement, but deep restoration takes time. In weeks to months you will see smoother skin, firmer tone and a more youthful figure. Health is beauty. Embrace it from the inside out.