Let’s talk about cellulite – that pesky, dimply skin that can make even the most confident person feel self-conscious. Did you know that your diet could be contributing to cellulite production? It’s true!
Think of your body like a river, flowing smoothly and carrying away any debris that might otherwise clog it up. Now, imagine cellulite as a logjam that disrupts the flow of the river, causing water to pool and stagnate.
In a similar way, poor dietary choices can lead to stagnant lymph and fluid accumulation, making cellulite more visible. Just as a river needs a clear path to flow freely, your body needs the right nutrients to maintain healthy circulation and lymphatic flow.
In this article, we’ll dive into the worst foods for cellulite and why you might want to kick them to the curb. By avoiding these foods and incorporating healthier options into your diet, you can clear the way for healthy, flowing lymph and smoother-looking skin.
Your skin (and your self confidence) will thank you!
What is Cellulite
Cellulite is a common skin condition that affects areas with a high concentration of fat cells, such as the thighs, buttocks, and abdomen. It is characterized by a dimpled or lumpy appearance, often compared to the texture of an orange peel or cottage cheese.
Cellulite occurs when fat cells push against the skin’s connective tissue, causing it to bulge and give the skin an uneven appearance. While cellulite is not harmful to your health, many people find it unsightly and seek ways to minimize its appearance.
Common Causes of Cellulite
The exact cause of cellulite is not fully understood, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic, hormonal, and lifestyle factors. Some of the factors that contribute to the development of cellulite include:
Genetics. Some people are more predisposed to developing cellulite.
Hormonal changes. Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can affect the development of cellulite.
Age. As you age, your skin becomes thinner and less elastic, making cellulite more visible.
Lack of exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can lead to poor blood flow and extra water weight, both of which can contribute to cellulite.
Smoking. Smoking can damage the skin’s connective tissue, making cellulite more visible.
Dehydration. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration, which can make cellulite more visible.
Stress. Stress can cause hormonal imbalances and lead to poor circulation, which can contribute to cellulite formation.
Salt. Foods with high sodium content can cause the body to retain excess water, leading to bloating and puffiness in the skin, which makes cellulite more visible.
Sugar. Consuming too much sugar can lead to the formation of advanced glycation end products (aptly called AGEs), which can damage collagen and elastin fibers in the skin, leading to reduced skin elasticity and increased appearance of cellulite.
Unhealthy fats. Unhealthy fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats, may contribute to weight gain and inflammation, which can worsen the appearance of cellulite.
While these factors do not necessarily cause cellulite on their own, they can contribute to its development and make it more visible.
10 Worst Foods for Cellulite
Processed Food and Junk Food
Processed foods (also called junk foods) are often high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, all of which contribute to cellulite formation.
Sugar and Sugary Foods
Sugar can cause inflammation and damage the collagen in your skin, leading to cellulite and other visible signs of aging.
Fried foods are high in unhealthy fats and contribute to inflammation in the body. Think of fried foods as the “fire” that can damage your skin from the inside out.
Alcohol is inflammatory, which damages the collagen in your skin and contributes to cellulite formation. Inflammation can also cause fluid retention, making cellulite more visible.
The worst cocktails for cellulite combine sugar or juice with alcohol.
Refined carbohydrates can spike your blood sugar levels and contribute to inflammation, both of which can contribute to cellulite formation.
Dairy products themselves are not necessarily bad for cellulite, but certain types of dairy products can contribute to inflammation and weight gain, which can make cellulite more visible.
Here are some examples of dairy products that may not be the best choice if you’re trying to reduce the appearance of cellulite:
Red meats are high in saturated fat, which contributes to inflammation and weight gain, making cellulite more visible. However, some red meats are worse for cellulite than others.
Pro-tip: Pasture-raised, 100% grass-fed beef is generally lower in saturated fat and contains more omega-3 fats, making it a better choice for health and cellulite.
Fast foods are often high in calories, unhealthy fats, and added sugars, which contribute to weight gain and inflammation.
Soda and Sugary Drinks
Sodas and sugary drinks are high in added sugars, including high fructose corn syrup, and calories, which contribute to weight gain and inflammation.
Foods high in sodium (salt) contribute to water retention and inflammation in the body, making cellulite more visible.
While it’s important to be mindful of these foods, it’s also important to remember that no one food is solely responsible for cellulite.
Foods That Prevent or Improve Cellulite
Certain foods can enhance circulation, reduce inflammation, and encourage the body to produce collagen, all of which can help battle cellulite.
For example, foods that are high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds can help reduce inflammation in the body and improve circulation, which can reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Foods that are high in collagen-boosting nutrients, such as vitamin C and protein, can also help promote healthy skin and reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Additionally, foods that are high in fiber can help remove toxins and waste from the body, which can also help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
11 Best Foods for Cellulite
Berries are rich in antioxidants, which help protect your skin from free radicals and inflammation. They also contain fiber, which can help reduce the appearance of cellulite by improving digestion and promoting waste elimination through healthy bowel movements.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps improve circulation and reduce inflammation in the body. They are also low in calories and high in fiber, which can help prevent weight gain and promote healthy digestion.
Fatty fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce inflammation and improve circulation. It also contains collagen, a protein that helps keep your skin smooth and firm.
Pro-tip: Choose sardines packed in 100% water or olive oil to avoid poor-quality oils that negate the benefits of omega-3s.
Rich in vitamins and minerals that support healthy skin, leafy greens are also low in calories and high in fiber, which can help prevent weight gain and promote healthy digestion.
Avocado and avocado oil are great sources of healthy fats and antioxidants that help reduce inflammation and improve blood circulation. It also contains vitamin E, which helps improve skin elasticity and firmness.
Rich in good fats, fiber, and protein, nuts can help keep you feeling full and prevent overeating. They also contain vitamin E and zinc which promote healthy skin.
Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, which promotes collagen production and improves skin elasticity. They also contain antioxidants that help protect your skin from damage and inflammation.
Rich in fiber, whole grains help prevent weight gain and promote healthy digestion. They also contain vitamins and minerals that support healthy skin, such as vitamin B and zinc.
Also known as coriander or Chinese parsley, Cilantro is an herb commonly used in cooking that is loaded with health benefits.
Cilantro’s potential to prevent cellulite is attributed to its detoxifying properties, antioxidant content, anti-inflammatory effects, and diuretic properties.
While cilantro is available as an extract that can be taken orally, why not just add some more of this delicious herb to your diet?
Pro-tip: Add cilantro to salads, salsas, soups, stews, and smoothies, use it as a fresh herb seasoning, make cilantro pesto, or use it as a garnish.
While there is limited research to suggest parsley directly impacts cellulite, it contains vitamin C, vitamin K, and iron, which are essential for skin health and collagen production. Increasing collagen can reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Parsley is also a natural diuretic, which means it can help reduce water retention. This can reduce bloating and improve the appearance of the skin.
Pro-tip: Get creative with parsley by blending it into a homemade pesto sauce, adding it to green smoothies, or using it as a flavorful garnish on soups, stews, and roasted vegetables.
Green tea (and matcha) contains catechins, powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation, which may reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Additionally, green tea supports weight loss due to its thermogenic effects, which may help boost metabolism and increase fat oxidation (1).
More Tips for Reducing Cellulite
Achieve a Healthy Weight
When excess fat deposits accumulate in the body, they can push against the connective tissue under the skin, causing cellulite. Weight loss can reduce the amount of fat pushing against the connective tissue, reducing the appearance of cellulite.
It’s important to note, however, that losing weight alone may not completely eliminate cellulite. Even individuals who are at a healthy weight may still have some cellulite due to genetics, hormonal , and other lifestyle factors.
Reduce Sodium Intake
When we consume high sodium foods, it can cause the body to retain excess water weight, which leads to bloating and puffiness in the skin. This can make cellulite more visible and increase the appearance of dimples and lumps.
In addition, consuming too much salt can cause inflammation, which can damage collagen and elastin fibers in the skin.
Collagen and elastin are essential components of healthy skin, and when they are damaged, the skin can become less firm and elastic. This can contribute to the formation of cellulite.
Pro-tip: Look out for hidden sources of sodium, like monosodium glutamate, often found in processed foods and frozen meals.
When your body is dehydrated, it can cause your skin to appear dry and less plump, exacerbating the appearance of cellulite. Drinking plenty of water helps keep the skin looking healthy and reduces the appearance of dimples and lumps.
It’s important to note that while drinking water can be helpful, it’s unlikely to completely eliminate cellulite on its own. A combination of hydration, a healthy diet, and exercise are necessary for the best results.
Regular exercise is essential for reducing the appearance of cellulite. Exercise can help burn excess fat, build muscle, and improve circulation, all of which can help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
Additionally, exercise can help boost collagen production, which can improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of dimples and lumps.
Try Dry Brushing
Dry brushing is a technique that involves brushing the skin with a dry brush in circular motions. This technique can help improve circulation, stimulate lymphatic drainage, and exfoliate the skin, all of which may help reduce the appearance of cellulite.
The Cellulite Battle: Foods to Avoid and Foods to Embrace
While there’s no magic food that can completely banish cellulite, making a few simple dietary tweaks can go a long way toward reducing its appearance.
Strive to avoid processed, high-fat, and high-sugar foods, as they can contribute to inflammation and weakened connective tissues.
Instead, focus on eating nutrient-dense foods rich in antioxidants, healthy fats, and whole grains to support healthy skin and overall wellness.
Small changes can add up to big results, so be kind to your body and make choices that nourish and support it!
Pam is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a Master’s of Public Health and a Certificate in Integrative and Functional Nutrition. Passionate about the science of health and nutrition, she loves to share her knowledge to help others live healthy, vibrant lives. When not working, Pam can be found hiking, traveling, and enjoying great-tasting, nutritious food.