In our photo-shopped skinny-worshiping world its acceptance has become a battle cry for self-love and its abolishment has become the goal of many a health fad.
Whether you accept it as part of being a woman, or hate it and are determined to see its ultimate demise, there’s one thing I know for sure: no one loves cellulite. At best it’s a “live with it” kind of thing.
I wish I could say I don’t concern myself with such vain considerations, but I’d be lying. I’d love to be totally comfortable in my own skin (eat naked after all) and proudly embrace the dimples on my butt and thighs. I’m all about self-love. But I hate the stuff as much as anyone else. It may very well be a superficial piece of the health puzzle – albeit an emotionally and politically charged one – but we’re all dealing with it so let’s talk about it.
What is cellulite anyhow?
Let’s start with some science. I’ve heard everything from cellulite being a weight problem to a sign of stagnant lymph to simply genetic predisposition. What’s the deal?
Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
Cellulite is the herniation of subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue that manifests topographically as skin dimpling and nodularity, often on the pelvic region (specifically the buttocks), lower limbs, and abdomen. Cellulite occurs in most postpubescent females. 
In other words, cellulite is simply fat that’s stuck in connective tissue and causes that lovely “cottage cheese” effect that we all dread. Maddeningly, cellulite is primarily a female phenomenon. Men rarely experience it, and only when they are hormonally out of balance.
But is it just an issue of being overweight? What about this whole concept of stagnant lymph? Or is it just genetic?
Why do we get cellulite?
Isn’t that the million dollar question, and while there are many large claims out there, I’m not sure that anyone has the exact answer. Here’s what we do know:
- The fat connection – Cellulite is trapped fat, so reducing fat should logically reduce cellulite. Women have more fat biologically, and thus it stands to reason that we have more cellulite. That said, I believe it’s about much more than just weight. Just an afternoon at the beach will show you that someone’s weight and cellulite content aren’t always directly proportional.
- The skin connection – Since cellulite is fat trapped in connective tissue in the skin, it stands to reason that the health of our skin is an important piece of the cellulite puzzle. This means any strategy for addressing cellulite needs to address the health of the skin and in particular, collagen, which is responsible for the firmness of our skin.
- A toxic situation – Toxins accumulate in fat and our body will hold on to extra weight in order to prevent those toxins from circulating. It’s a survival mechanism and if there’s anything I’ve learned about the body after my years in practice, it’s that the body will ALWAYS prioritize survival. This is where the whole concept of stagnant lymph comes into play. Our lymphatic system is one of our body’s primary means for detoxification. If it’s not flowing properly and the body isn’t able to detoxify effectively, then we have an increased toxic load.
- Heredity – This is a more complicated piece of the puzzle, but consider this: while we inherit our parents’ genes, we also typically inherit their lifestyle, diet, and daily habits. There is a cutting-edge field of study called “epigenetics” with compelling research to show that while we may inherit genes from our parents, our environment and lifestyle can determine whether these genes are turned on or off. This is a very empowering notion. (If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, here’s a great book to get you started.)
Equipped with some ideas of why we’ve got this cellulite to begin with, we can put together an effective natural strategy for how to reduce it. Here are the five things I’ve done and seen a noticeable improvement.
1) Eat a clean diet, free of refined foods
What you feed yourself is absolutely the most important piece of this whole puzzle, as it will address all of the considerations I’ve outlined above. A nutrient-dense whole foods diet will let the body shed weight, will provide the nutrients for healthy skin, will ease your body’s toxic burden and is an important piece of the lifestyle puzzle that determines genetic outcomes.
First and foremost, you want to eliminate all processed foods, particularly those containing any refined grains, vegetable oils, or added sugars of any kind. This means the elimination of basically all packaged foods. If this sounds overwhelming or very different from how you’re eating now, check out our 14-Day Sugar Control Detox. It’s a great body recalibration and crash course in true whole-foods eating.
Side note: If you’re already eating a processed-foods free, sugar-free diet, then you might try intermittent fasting, where you compress the hours during which you eat in a day and hence give your body more opportunity to go into fat burning mode. Dr. Joseph Mercola wrote about it here if you’re curious to learn more. Unlike most proponents of intermittent fasting, I do not recommend it as a starting point. I only recommend this approach if you have already moved to a lower-carb style of eating where your body is accustomed to using fat as a primary energy source. Starting with intermittent fasting before your blood sugar is in balance can be extremely challenging to your system.
2) Move your body the right way
I’m not talking about just any kind of movement here. I’m talking about the kinds of movement that are most effective at fat burning and boosting human growth hormone (HGH) levels (high intensity interval training, for example), and/or the kind of movement that stimulates lymph and thus supports your body’s detoxification pathways, such as any kind of bouncing: running, skipping rope, bouncing on a rebounder, pogo stick… you get the idea.
3) Dry skin brushing
Dry skin brushing is using a natural bristle brush on your skin before your shower. This has long been touted as an effective strategy for cellulite reduction because it helps tone the skin, it supports your skin’s role as a detoxification pathway, and it stimulates lymph, further supporting detoxification. I’m a big fan of skin brushing.
Make sure you use a quality brush like this (no synthetic bristles) and start from your extremities moving towards your heart. Make sure your skin is fully dry or it will tear. Ouch! You want to brush hard enough to bring a little pinkness to your skin, but not so hard that you’re actually causing damage. After a few days of doing it, you’ll notice it feels really soothing and satisfying.
4) Tallow balm
Now, this piece I learned entirely by accident. Ever since I started using my homemade tallow balm on my legs, I’ve noticed the skin seems more toned. I did a little research and discovered that this actually makes a lot of sense. The fatty acid profile in tallow (just over 50% saturated fat, the rest mostly mono-unsaturated with minimal poly-unsaturated fats) most closely resembles the fatty acid profile of our own cells.
Did you know that fat, in particular saturated fat, makes up an integral part of the cell membrane of every single cell in our body, our skin cells included? This fat is responsible for the health and structure of those cell membranes in our skin. Thus it stands to reason that the tallow balm I’ve been slathering on is actually promoting healthier, more toned skin.
5) Gelatin, the best way to promote collagen growth
As you’ll know if you’ve ever seen a commercial for some expensive skin care product, collagen is the much sought-after ingredient. But here’s the catch: you can’t actually absorb collagen through your skin. D’oh!!! Yeah, that’s a little detail no one wants you to know about.
You can however, increase your body’s natural production of collagen, and one of the best ways to do that is to consume gelatin on a regular basis. A great way to do this is to incorporate bone broth into your daily diet, or you can supplement with gelatin by making fun gummies or even just adding it to your beverages. The key is that you’re using a high quality gelatin like this. I have actually noticed that when my consumption of gelatin decreases, my cellulite gets worse, and vice versa. Fascinating, isn’t it?
If you’re intrigued and want to read more about cellulite and how to get rid of it from the inside out, here’s a great book on the topic: Primal Moms Look Good Naked. What are your cellulite reduction strategies? Share them in the comments below.
Like what you're reading? Don't miss out . . .
Enter your info to be the first to know when we publish new insights, articles and recipes.
Plus, we'll send you our exclusive Kitchen Essentials List as a welcome gift (because a well-stocked kitchen is the most reliable short-cut to healthy, delicious eating).