Tips for Cellulite Management with Traditional Chinese Medicine Tips for Cellulite Management with Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Angela Soeon Park, L.Ac.

Cellulite is lumpy and bumpy and typically appears in places where the body tends to store fat; thighs, buttocks, upper arms, and belly. Cellulite is a problem encountered by men and women. Studies show that up to 90% of women and 10% of men will develop cellulite due to hormonal changes, especially estrogen transitions.

When estrogen levels fluctuate, there is less blood circulation to the connective tissues, which results in weakened tissues. After puberty, estrogen circulating in the body triggers fluid buildup in fatty tissue. Beneath the skin, this "plumped up" fatty tissue is more likely to strain against the collagen fibers beneath the skin's surface, creating cellulite's distinctive "orange peel" texture and appearance.

These hormonal changes also affect lymphatic circulation, leaving stagnant lymph trapped in weakened connective tissue and may increase the appearance of cellulite.

During pregnancy, hormonal changes can cause stretch marks making women more prone to developing cellulite. However, estrogen also regulates the body's production of collagen. When estrogen levels eventually begin to fluctuate and drop during perimenopause and menopause, collagen production also decreases.

For many years cellulite was considered an aesthetic issue. Many experts agree that a direct correlation exists between cellulite and a predisposition to systemic disease and genetics. Compromised blood flow and the enlargement of fat cells from weight gain or sluggish metabolism are often associated with persistent low-grade inflammation, water retention, oxidative stress, and extracellular matrix alterations from collagen degradation.

Men are less likely to experience cellulite because their connective tissue tends to have a crisscross structure where the fat cells have nowhere to protrude; hence, there is no bumpy appearance. For females, the fat layer and the connective tissues run vertically, which increases the chances of the fat layer protruding and lumps and bumps forming.

While there is no one singular solution to diminishing cellulite, we offer lifestyle and diet tips that can work wonders in helping to reduce the appearance of cellulite.

  • Avoid crossing the legs and wearing skin-tight apparel (skinny jeans, corset). These put higher pressure on your legs and abdomen, causing poor blood and lymphatic circulation.
  • Research has shown that smoking and vaping can be significant causes of cellulite, especially if combined with a genetic predisposition. Nicotine and tar from smoking and vaping damage skin firmness and blood vessel health, leading to more cellulite.
  • Anti-inflammatory nutrients and hydration support smooth, healthy skin. We advise eating less inflammatory foods, like sugar, fried, trans fats, and alcohol, and controlling sugar intake. Like sugar, fried and hydrogenated fats in food are a fundamental cause of cellulite, regardless of calorie balance.
  • With sugar converting to fat and stimulating insulin release with physical inactivity, we become predisposed to fat cell buildup. Sugar will also cause glycation and low-grade, chronic inflammation — both significant aspects of cellulite.
  • Trans/hydrogenated fats and fried food stimulate inflammation, glycation, and fat accumulation, all essential aspects of cellulite.
  • Alcohol impairs liver function, upsets hormonal imbalance (high cortisol release), and carries calories.
  • Anti-cellulite foods, such as grapefruit, contain methoxylated bioflavonoids and vitamin C, which build up and repair skin collagen, smoothing the bumpy skin surface. Sunflower seeds, also considered an anti-cellulite food, are a good source of vitamin E, potassium, and zinc, as well as vitamin B6, a super lump-fighter. Additionally, sunflower seeds are a natural diuretic that eliminates excess water and bloating, making cellulite less visible. Vitamin B6 boosts metabolism in our body. It also regenerates and fortifies connective tissue.
  • Besides eating collagen-rich foods such as bone broth, poultry, shellfish, egg whites, seaweed, beans, and cashews, good quality supplements like Collagen Boost Max, which contains a collagen protein complex made from beef and chicken collage, marine collagen peptides, and eggshell collagen, can provide the necessary nutrients to help reduce cellulite.

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