Search the interwebs and you will find countless postings about what your nails can be telling you about your health. I happen to like some of the fun facts found in this Huffington Post write-up.
The short of it is, your nails are made out of proteins and a host of other amino acids. Your hair and your nails have similar make ups, driven mostly by keratin which is the prime protein. The things that you see (your hair, nails, skin) are often expressions of what is going on inside of you, or what you’re making available to the factories within your body to do their best work. I took a biology course a few months ago which dabbled into protein synthesis – it’s a complex thing and I’m constantly reminded how amazing the human body really is. If you’d like to get nerdy about the make up of your nails, check out this link. It can be helpful if you have underlying issues to help determine what could be amiss.
It’s no secret that a healthy diet is good all the way around. But when it comes to your nails, they could just be telling you what you might be missing.
Two disclaimers here. I am not a doctor and am not attempting to diagnose or cure anyone. And, how your nails perform is also up to genetics. If you take that in mind and have realistic expectations, you can feel confident that you’ll be on a path to healthier, more beautiful nails.
I am a reformed nail biter. Gross, I know. I don’t really know when it began, but up until a few years ago it was part of my daily life. I remember my dad commenting all the time “you bit them down to the quick!” He was right. They were pretty gnarly.
But what my little nubs were also telling me is that I likely wasn’t getting enough nutrients to keep them strong. I had a relatively healthy diet (strike that comment from college up until well, a few years ago) but I played sports full time and many times skipped lunch for homework or other things. I wasn’t taking in enough for the output, so my nails would just break and rip off. I look at my nails today and I really don’t know how I’d bite them without some serious effort. They are that strong.
Here’s a picture of my lovely nails. Yes, my hands need lotion, and yes my nails aren’t beautifully shaped or manicured. I purposefully cut my nails and then put them out of sight until I cut them again. Remember that nail biting story? If you can ignore that then let’s look at the items on the counter. This, along with a [somewhat] healthy diet is what helps my nails grow strong.
Put down the polish
Sometimes doing less is more. Those fake nails, shellac and regular manicures are doing you more harm than good. Think about it. The scraping, cutting, buffing, acetone removal, alcohol-laiden polishes, chipping and peeling…the list goes on. I hear so many times that people get manicures because it keeps their nails strong, or they’re ugly without them. I’m here to tell you, that’s not the case and you’re likely perpetuating the problem. Polishes severely dry out your nail, and do not allow for natural oils and air to help them grow. Fake nails or other long-lasting polishes breed bacteria which can injure the nail bed. And if they look terrible without something on top of it, the best thing would be to address what is causing your nails to look that way vs. covering it up.
Am I against manis and pedis? NO! I love a great mani/pedi. But, as with everything humans enjoy, it’s everything in moderation. I’d challenge you to let your entire nail grow out at least twice a year with no polish on them. And look at how much your wallet will thank you.
Still want something to pamper your nails? Opt for a great hand massage and moisturizing oil treatment. It will get that blood flowing which is great for your nail beds and keeps brittle nails hydrated and active.
If you’re expecting me to write about a topical nail product that does wonders, I’m sorry to disappoint you that I’m not. A nail oil and daily lotion on your hands is about all you need. Economical and straightforward! Truly though, it starts from within.
My secret sauce
In the picture from left to right:
Green Superfood & Protein Shake: daily
This goes beyond nails of course, but certainly is a top contributor. I use a trusty shaker bottle with some water and voila. Each of these items has a specific purpose – boost my energy while getting healthy fruits and veggies, help with digestion, provide building blocks for my body to use in making strong nails and fill the gaps where my diet may be missing. Both the Amazing Grass (watermelon) and BIOHM (Maca Root) are naturally sweetened without sugar, although AG does have a small amount of Stevia if that bothers you. These flavors helps to make it palatable. You could add these to sweeten up summer drinks and smoothies. I saw a recipe on AG for watermelon lime popsicles. YUM. I’m not going to lie and say it’s a substitute for brownies, but the fact I do this every day is a testament to it’s drinkability. The collagen powder is tasteless and dissolves easily. This is more versatile and can be added to coffee or another drink. I don’t suggest cold drinks as you’ll read in my I drank collagen for 30 days post. I also like Vital Proteins which is a little more straightforward on the types of proteins, but nearly undetectable.
Alive! Whole Food Supplement: daily
Has so many B vitamins to boost my energy and too many greens/veggies/minerals to count. I can tell this works because I see the bright yellow tinge in my urine for the next 24 hours. Different than others that you see once and goes away. This means it’s being flushed right out of your body. It is a large pill, so if you have troubles you may want to look somewhere else.
Nature’s Bounty Hair, Skin and Nails supplement: daily
This has been my ride or die biotin supplement for years. I can immediately see a difference in my nails and hair if I stop taking it regularly. This is a slow race, so don’t expect miracles right off the bat, but it’s been a staple for me for a long time. It is more of a multi-vitamin, so I only take one of these since I’m taking everything else. I don’t want to overdo it. But, you can take up to three a day. These are also very small and easy-to-swallow pills if you have problems with that.
BIOHM Probiotic: daily
They were a client of mine and I really like their probiotic. It’s pricey, so it’s more of a splurge for me, but the enzymes within help to break down food within the body and get more out of it (including bettering my digestion). While I wouldn’t say this is the key to great nails, it does help overall health.
What you get
Ok now that you’ve read this big long post and you’re thinking hmmm OK sounds good and all, I’d just like to remind you what you’re getting in this process that takes oh about 3 minutes to do and is less than 100 calories. (these are posts from the ingredients on the respective item’s website):
Bovine collagen, Chicken collagen, Fish collagen, eggshell membrane collagen, Spirulina, Barley Grass, Alfalfa Leaf, Wheat Grass, Chloerlla, Dulse, Spinach Leaf, Broccoli (Whole Plant), Parsley Leaf, Kale Leaf, Echinacea angustifolia Root, Licorice Root, Milk Thistle Seed, Siberian Eleuthero Root, Beet Root, Rose Hips, Acai (Fruit), Green Tea Leaf, Raspberry Leaf, Blueberry (Fruit), Goji Berry, Bilberry (Fruit), Ashwagandha Root, Rhodiola Root, Reishi Mushroom, Maca Root, Bee Pollen, Nettle Leaf, Ginko biloba (4:1 Leaf Extract), Royal Jelly (3x Concentrate), Grape Seed (2:1 Extract), Sunflower Lecithin, Apple (Fruit), Brown Rice Bran, Inulin) PathoBiome 15B: (B. breve, L. acidophilus, S. boulardii, L. rhamnosus), Digestive Enzyme Blend: (Amylase, Bromelain, Cellulase, Lipase, Papain, Protease) VITAMIN A, VITAMIN C, VITAMIN D, VITAMIN E, VITAMIN K, THIAMIN, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID, VITAMIN B12, BIOTIN, PANTOTHENIC ACID, CALCIUM, IRON, IODINE, ZINC, COPPER, CHROMIUM, MOLYBDENUM, SODIUM, POTASSIUM, SPIRULINA, KELP, ALFALFA, BARLEY GRASS, DANDELION, WHEAT GRASS, MELISSA, LEMON GRASS, NETTLE, BLESSED THISTLE, CHLORELLA, PLANTAIN, BLUE GREEN ALGAE, CILANTRO, PROVIDING AMINO ACIDS: GLUTAMIC ACID, ARGININE, LEUCINE, LYSINE, SERINE, PHENYLALANINE, VALINE, ISOLEUCINE, ALANINE, PROLINE, GLYCINE, THREONINE, TYROSINE, HISTIDINE, METHIONINE, CYSTEINE, TRYPTOPHAN). CARDIOVASCULAR BLEND WITH RESVERATROL – (HAWTHORN (BERRY) JAPANESE KNOTWEED, COENZYME Q10, ORCHARD FRUITS BLEND: – (POMEGRANATE (SEED), ACAI (WHOLE PALM FRUIT) EXTRACT, JUICE POWDERS: PLUM, CRANBERRY, BLUEBERRY, STRAWBERRY, BLACKBERRY, BILBERRY, CHERRY, APRICOT, PAPAYA, ORANGE, GRAPE, PINEAPPLE) GARDEN VEGGIES JUICE POWDER BLEND: – (PARSLEY, KALE, SPINACH, WHEAT GRASS, BRUSSELS SPROUT, ASPARAGUS, BROCCOLLI, CAULIFLOWER, BEET, CARROT, CABBAGE, GARLIC) ORGANIC MUSHROOM DEFENSE BLEND – (CORDYCEPS; RESHI; SHIITAKE; HIRATAKE; MAITAKE; YAMABUSHITAKE; HIMEMATSUTAKE; KAWARATKE; CHAGA; ZHU LING; AGARIKON; MESIMA) DIGESTIVE ENZYME BLEND: – (CONCENTRATED ENZYME FORMULA: (PROTEASE I, PROTEASE II, PEPTIZYME SP, AMYLASE, LACTASE, INVERTASE, LIPASE, CELLULASE, ALPHA GALACTOSIDASE); BETAINE HCL; BROMELAIN (FROM PINEAPPLE); PAPAIN (FROM PAPAYA) OMEGA 3/6/9 FATTY ACID SEED BLEND: – (FLAX SEED POWDER (DRY, COLD PRESSED); SUNFLOWER SEED POWDER (DRY, COLD PRESSED) CITRUS BIOFLAVONOIDS COMPLEX – (FROM LEMON,ORANGE,GRAPEFRUIT, LIME, TANGERINE) PROVIDING:HESPERIDIN, NARINGIN, NARIRUTIN, ERIOCI TRIN, FLAVONOLS AND FLAVONES), SIBERIAN ELEUTHERO – (ROOT), INOSITOL, RUTIN, BORON, LUTEIN, ENERGY BLEND – ORGANIC YERBA MATE EXTRACT AND MATCHA GREEN TEA, AMAZING GRASS ANTIOXIDANT BLEND – ORGANIC ACAI, ORGANIC MACA, ORGANIC CARROT, ORGANIC BEET, RASPBERRY, ORGANIC ROSE HIPS, ORGANIC PINEAPPLE AND ACEROLA CHERRY DIGESTIVE ENZYME AND ACTIVE CULTURE PRE/PROBIOTIC BLEND – F.O.S. (FRUCTOOLIGOSACCHARIDE FROM CHICORY ROOT) LACTOBACILLUS ACIDOPHILUS, PROTEASE (ASPERGILLUS ORYZAE), AMYLASE (ASPERGILLUS ORYZAE), LIPASE (ASPERGILLUS NIGER), LACTASE (ASPERGILLUS ORYZAE) AND CELLULASE (TRICHODERMA REESEI), Horsetail Powder (Equisetum arvense) (aerial).
Try to incorporate amino-acid, biotin, collagen and protein-rich items into your diet. You’ll need it to be well rounded to see results, but you’ll likely see a positive effect on your nails within 90 days (giving time for your nails to grow out). A positive side effect may be stronger hair, glowing skin and longer lashes. Who wouldn’t want that?
Have something you’ve tried and love? Drop us a line in the comments.