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The Right Nutrition for Healthy Nails

Ever wondered why some women can get away with scrubbing floor and sawing on nails with a metal file while others need to strengthen their nails by putting base coats and numerous visits to the nail bar? It would be hard to find a nutritionist today who denies that nutrition affects nails. So, the right nutrition for healthy nails is what you must focus on.

Your nails speak volumes about your state of health and what you eat affects nail health. However, if your nails are in a bad shape, it can take anywhere between 3 and 6 months or maybe even a year to improve. The reason: nails, like hair, are lifeless tissue.

We all like to have strong and healthy nails. But if you are plagued with brittle and discoloured nails that refuse to grow, do not fret. Nails grow approximately 0.6 to 1.3 millimetres in a week – faster during warm seasons and slower when it’s cold. Poor eating patterns, stress, low protein levels, thyroid disorders or conditions such as anaemia all affect nail health. However, you can easily rectify all of these.

Nutrition for Healthy Nails – Do’s & Don’ts

Modify your diet, eat and drink correctly and, you can enjoy healthy, strong and beautiful nails.

Thyroid Disorders

Do your hands and feet usually feel cold? If yes, it’s an indication of poor blood circulation brought about by an underactive thyroid or an iron deficiency. Get your thyroxin levels checked. Intensify aerobic activity as it can help to strengthen your cardiovascular system. In the case of hypothyroidism, a low dose of the thyroid hormone taken under medical supervision also helps counter brittle nails.

Vertical Ridges

This is usually due to deficiency or low levels of iron, zinc, and protein. To treat iron deficiency, consume coriander juice made from 100 gms fresh coriander leaves regularly. Also, top up all your salads and vegetables with lime juice. Up your intake of iron-rich foods such as leafy vegetables, fish, eggs, most pulses and nuts like alphalpa, sprouts, almonds, and walnuts. Include good sources of protein and calcium such as low-fat milk and curds to your diet.

Hangnails

This occurs when the skin around the nail dries out. Dry skin tags at the sides of the nails mainly due to the deficiency of vitamin C, folic acid or protein. Include folate-rich foods such as green leafy vegetables, fish and eggs.

Discoloured Nails

Frequent use of nail paint tends to discolour the nails. Yellowish nails are usually caused by smoking, while blue nails indicate breathing problems. Pale white nails indicate the presence of anaemia. Regular intake of beetroot and spinach juice (diluted with water or tomato juice) helps combat anaemia and provides bioflavonoids and vitamin C – both are essential to improve breathing and oxygenation to the tissues.

Slow Nail Growth

This occurs mostly due to lack of proteins or vitamin A, intake of certain allopathic medicines, mental stress or illness. Following a very low-calorie diet also leads to low levels of protein and zinc, both of which are vital for nail growth.

White Spots

White spot on the nails indicates zinc and vitamin B deficiency. Brewer’s yeast and wheat germ are excellent sources of zinc and vitamin B.  Other zinc-rich foods include whole grains such as wheat bran, jowar, bajra, and naachini.

Brittle Nails

Overuse of nail polish remover, dipping hands in harsh detergents, low protein intake, a calcium deficiency and poor blood circulation to the base of the nail are some of the reasons for brittle nails. Cold hands and feet are a common sign of poor circulation.

Also, when your diet is low in protein your body stops supplying protein to your nails and hair, giving other vital organs a priority. Since nails and hair are mostly protein they get severely affected. Take adequate protein by consuming more of eggs (especially the yolk), almonds, fish and tofu. Consume at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of your muscle weight. If you have cold hands and feet begin a brisk walk or a jog at least 4-5 times a week. This will strengthen your cardiovascular system.

The element sulphur is also known as ‘the beauty mineral’ is also essential to keep your nails hard. It keeps your hair glossy and complexion clear and smooth. Sulphur, when combined with protein, contributes to strong hair and hard nails. It is found in the B vitamin and biotin. The amino acids methionine, cystine and cysteine contain sulphur. These are found in rice, wheat, eggs, and organ meats.

To begin your quest for healthy nails, first make a commitment to entertaining positive thoughts, eliminating stress and eating healthier foods. Remember your nail health, beautiful hair and skin are a reflection of what’s inside you. Your body talks to you all the time. You must find time to listen to it.

August 31, 2019

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