Cellulite: What Can We Do About It?

There are some mixed feelings on aesthetic-based goals; it is healthier to focus on self-love and not agonize over every little thing on our body that we can’t always control. Don’t get me wrong; I think for our mental health, we should focus most on internal health, such as what we put into our bodies and how we treat ourselves, as well as how we deal with stress. But sometimes we want to look good too, and that’s OK! It’s natural to want to look good. As long as we don’t give it too much focus over our health and have positive intentions behind it.

Physical symptoms can also be telling of our overall health, especially our skin. Beach season is coming up, and it got me thinking about ways to prepare and what healthy skin looks like. I thought of cellulite, like many women out there do. Through my education process on internal health, I have found certain things play a role in skin issues like cellulite. I will say, we can’t just get rid of cellulite completely. There is no quick fix, but there are ways to help decrease it.

What is cellulite? Cellulite is stored fat that has been pushed through the connective tissue to the surface of your skin. Think about a layer under your skin that has little fiber cords that attach to your tissues below, like a bunch of strings hanging down from a flexible celling. There is only enough room for a little stored fat, but when it becomes too much, it starts to push up on that ceiling (like skin), while the strings are held firmly down, causing the bumpiness texture on the outside. This can also happen if you don’t have enough, or strong, connective tissue to begin with.

With that being said, what do we need to do to prevent this from happening? It’s not just about doing leg exercises, a coffee scrub, or eating less. Our goal is to use fat for energy, not to have too much of it stored. We have a few things to think about that will lead to less cellulite. In order to do that, we have to look at processes around reducing fat storage through digestion, strengthening connective tissue, and supporting the liver.

Let’s dive in:

Eat and digest quality fats. This is the major one! If you take away one thing from this, consider what you put in to your body and do your best to ensure it’s getting digested.

  • First we’ll talk about eating fats. Avoid poor quality fats such as hydrogenated/trans fatty acids, as well as canola, vegetable, soybean oils, and heated polyunsaturated fats or fried foods as much as possible. These are hard for your body to break down; therefore they have damaging effects on the body, can cause liver congestion, and create poor digestion. So stick to quality fats, and ensure your aren’t heating fats above their smoke point. For cooking and baking think about olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass-fed ghee or butter, and bacon fat (yes, I said bacon fat). For whole food sources, think wild-caught fish, grass-fed/finished beef, pasture-raised eggs, antibiotic/hormone-free pork, avocados, raw or sprouted nuts and seeds (without added oils), MCT oil* and coconut products. *Fun fact: MCT oil is already broken down so it digests faster and easier than other fats – they don’t require bile to get digested. 

  • Now let’s talk digestion. You can eat all the good foods, but if you’re not digesting them properly, it all doesn’t matter, and actually causes harm on your body. Here are signs you’re not digesting fats well:

    • Stools that are greasy/shiny, piece-y, floating or clay colored

    • Stomach upset by greasy foods, but you also crave them

    • Dry/flaky skin

    • Muscles easily fatigued

    • Chronic inflammation

    • Headache in the sun, sunburn easily or sun poisoning 

    • Feel nauseous after eating a high fat meal/snack

    • Fishy burps when taking a quality fish oil

  • A few things to help with digestion:

    • Sit down, take some deep breaths, and actually chew your food slowly – this will help get your body into a parasympathetic (calm) state, which is needed for proper digestion (hence “rest and digest”).

    • Avoid poor quality fats, and get a balanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6’s… 1:1 up to 1:4 is a good goal to shoot for, we tend to eat too many omega-6’s because they are in most packaged/processed foods. Omega-3s are your anti-inflammatories; if you have too many omega-6’s, your body is likely inflamed somewhere.

    • Let your body adjust to digesting fats slowly, by supplementing with certain liver supports (see below for specific kind), so your liver can produce healthy bile (healthy bile digests fats).

Supplementation: Here are supplements I recommend to clients to aid in fat digestion (especially if you’ve been on a low-fat diet in the past). You can find most of these for a discounted price on my FullScript account here https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/emilyrodela

  • Collagen - helps keep and build your connective tissue. So try adding some collagen peptides into your coffee or tea, or get bone broth to sip on or use for your soups and cook your quinoa/rice in. Grass-fed is important for quality, like Vital Proteins – it’s at most Costco’s now!

  • Beta TCP (or Beta Plus if no gallbladder) from Biotics Research –aides in fat digestion and liver support (Beet juice, taurine, vitamin C and pancreolipase)

  • Livotrit Plus from Biotics Research – overall liver support

  • GSH-Plus from Biotics Research -contains glutathione which is a mega antioxidant that supports the liver, and glycine which supports collagen production

Detoxification: If we can support our liver to detox efficiently, this will not only improve our fat digestion, but also dramatically improve our skin overall. 

  • Be sure to use products, beauty and household, that don’t have nasty chemicals in them. Exposing your body to environmental toxins clog up your liver, detox system and endocrine system. This is why I love Beauty Counter. I can trust they only put quality ingredients into their products that will help my body, rather than hinder with toxicity. Thrive Market has a good selection of safer home cleaning products. (check out Beauty Counter here: https://www.beautycounter.com/emilyrodela and Thrive Market here: http://thrv.me/emilyrodela )

  • Physical activity is always good for circulation and detoxification. Try not to sit for longer than an hour or 2 at a time. Switch between standing and sitting at your desk (stand up desk, or make-shift one yourself), get up to stretch, walk around, or do some air squats throughout your day! 

  • Dry brushing before you get in the shower can help stimulate your lymphatic system to flow which helps with detoxification. It’s super easy and fast – plus it feels good and makes your skin soft.  Jumping on a trampoline or just plain old jump roping also stimulates your lymph circulation. This is a good protocol if you’re feeling a cold coming too!

If you’ve had issues with fat digestion, try these simple suggestions out. Be patient with the process, as it takes time to see and feel results. As always, if you inch your way to eating more real foods in general, you will see so many benefits not only with your skin, but overall health. Enjoy the journey and learn from it. Let us know if you’ve seen any changes yourself or had success with anything mentioned above. Cheers to the summer ahead, and doing what is good for our individual health!

Resources on fat: https://chriskresser.com/healthy-fats-what-you-need-to-know/

Author: Emily Rodela, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Black Iron Nutrition, @emilyrodela