We don’t always think about our nails when thinking about our health. Usually we are more concerned with the appearance our fingernails and toenails have and how they make our hands and feet look. But nails that break easily, are cracked or discolored can often be a sign of poor nutrition or underlying health conditions such as hypothyroidism. Not that the appearance of nails isn’t also important, it can be. Well-groomed nails can make a big difference not only in how we present to others in business or social situations, but also in our own self-image. Beautiful nails and healthy nails can be a reality by applying some of the following natural solutions.
Diet for Healthy Nails
Good overall nutrition not only keeps your body healthy, but will also carry over to creating stronger beautiful nails. This means getting the minerals, vitamins, and proteins your body and nails need. Nutrients that especially support your liver will also be good for your nails since in Traditional Chinese Medicine the liver governs the nails. Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, pumpkin, and green veggies like broccoli and asparagus or fruit such as apricots and cantaloupe that have a lot of vitamin A are one of the vitamins your nails crave. Biotin, an essential B vitamin, and protein are also contributors to healthy nails. This makes eggs a good choice for a healthy nails diet as they contain lean protein and vitamins A and E as well as biotin and calcium. Soybeans are another food that give you a lean protein source and biotin. Other good food sources for biotin include brown rice, mushrooms, peanuts, poultry, salmon, avocado, almonds, liver and AFA bluegreen algae. Increasing your intake of probiotics like acidophilus and bifidus, can help your body increase its natural production of biotin. Studies done on taking biotin supplements have reported an increase in the thickness of nails and a reduction of splitting and breakage and Sumayah Jamal, MD, a NYU dermatologist, agrees that taking 2.5 milligrams of such a supplement can give you these results.
Nutritionist Ian Marber advises eating whole grains for complex carbs that work in conjunction with vitamins and minerals for healthy nails. Barley and yeast fit into this category and also provide biotin and protein. Other good nail strengthening grains include oats, rye and buckwheat which also give you vitamin A and Brewer’s yeast that has B-complex vitamins and zinc. In addition to zinc, iron is important for healthy nails as according to Dr. D’Anne Kleinsmith, spokesperson for the American Dermatological Society, your nails can start curving if you are deficient in iron. Good food sources for zinc include pumpkin seeds, oysters, beef, wheat germ, nuts, eggs, chickpeas, fortified cereals, sesame seeds, milk, yogurt, miso and cashews and for iron look to lentils, spinach, healthy meats such as pork, lean beef and fish, cereals fortified with iron, soybeans, and white beans. Calcium is not only needed for strong bones and teeth, but also for strong nails. Dairy foods are a great source of calcium, but yogurt in particular is one of the best dairy sources. If you don’t do well with dairy, you can also get calcium from spinach, bok choy, mustard greens, sardines, fortified cereals and juices, beans, tofu, and fish.
I know it’s not always easy to get all these good foods in our diets as much as we should and if this is a problem you face, consider a wholefood supplement such as this algae supplement program that not only gives you the nutritional solution of AFA bluegreen algae, but also the probiotics and enzymes you need as well as 9 different algae and sea weeds giving you minerals and phytonutrients from lake and sea including dulse which is high in plant-based protein, iron, calcium, vitamins B6, 12, and A, Dunaliella salina which is loaded with beta-carotene for forming vitamin A, antioxidants and polyunsaturated fatty acids, kelp and bladderwrack with vitamin C and E as well as calcium and other trace minerals to nourish nails, skin and hair, Eckolnia cava with antioxidant power to fight off oxidative stress, and fucoidan found to support collagen production. In addition the program gives you red beta algae, and wheat sprouts for superior antioxidant nutrition and reishi, maitake, cordyceps, wild black trumpet, and Poria cocos mushrooms to support a healthy immune system.
Grooming for Healthy Nails
According to Mount Sinai Medical Center dermatologist Dana Stern, MD, one of the best grooming tips for healthy nails is to not cut or push back your cuticles as they protect against fungus and bacteria. Leaving the cuticles intact helps prevent infections that can damage your nails and affect their appearance. You can moisturize the cuticles to improve their appearance however and this will also keep nails hydrated and strong. Dermatologist Margaret Ravits, MD, advises using oil around the cuticles if you have brittle nails that chip, crack or split easily to moisturize the nail and reduce these effects. And while some experts say that using products for nails that have silicon or taking MSM supplements can help with healthy nails, most agree that taking gelatin supplements don’t do anything for nail health even though many people have heard of doing this for years. Dermatologists, including Dana Stern, MD, also seem to agree that using polish remover with acetone can actually harm nails by stripping them and leaving them more brittle. Margaret Ravits, MD also advises against using the orange emery boards to file nails as they can cause cracks that make nails more susceptible to breaking. She prefers a file that has a fine smooth surface and to use it slowly in only one direction when filing. If you find you have dry nails you may need to look at the soaps and shampoo you use. Shampoo designed for oily hair and detergent soaps that strip oils coming into contact with your fingernails can cause them to lose moisture and become dry.
For beautiful nails that you’ll be proud to show off and that will reflect your overall health give some of these diet and grooming tips a try. You’ll not only be proud to shake hands with a new acquaintance or business client, but will know that you are eating healthy and it shows.
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