A few weeks ago, I noticed that my fingernails were growing like crazy and still hadn’t cracked or split. Every once in a while, my nails get very strong but then they usually just crack off once they hit a certain point. But, last month, before I had to cut them, my strong fingernails showed no signs of stopping! It made me wonder, what had I been eating to get such strong nails?
You’ve probably heard the quote that a healthy outside starts from the inside. When I started to see positive changes from healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle, that’s when I really sat up and paid attention.
Unfortunately, it can take some time to strengthen your body’s natural healing processes inside before you even notice physical improvement. But, don’t worry – it IS achievable!
And, one of the first signs of a healthier YOU is the strength of your fingernails. Soon, you’ll see changes in your skin and hair, too, but it’s those nails that seem to be the first telltale sign that your nutrition program is working.
What You Need for Strong Fingernails
Your body needs a variety of nutrients to stay healthy. But in order to absorb nutrients from food or supplements, you also need a strong digestive system.
This means that you need adequate stomach acid to break down food into small particles before they enter the intestinal tract. Your gut bacteria must be balanced between good and bad bacteria so that you don’t overtax your body with toxins. Proper elimination of waste is also crucial to remove stuff that’s no longer necessary.
A strong digestive system is also necessary to help promote overall total body health, including healthy hair and radiant skin.
I drink a little bit of apple cider vinegar mixed in water before every meal, along with a digestive enzyme to help boost my enzyme count. This simple ritual has helped improve my digestion the most, and, in turn, I’ve discovered a ‘secret’ to clear and radiant skin, healthy hair and strong fingernails.
When I abandon this step in my routine, I quickly notice changes in my appearance that make me unhappy! I also notice changes in my digestion that I know aren’t normal.
Good digestion isn’t just about what you put into your body, though. A healthy digestive system starts with good mealtime hygiene.
Make sure to chew all your food very thoroughly. Eat until you’re about 80% full and stop; mindful eating like this can help you achieve weight loss and improve problems like gas and bloating. It helps to eat without distractions because we are more likely to inhale meals while watching TV, reading a book, playing on a computer or doing other activities. Plus, other activities could send a stress signal to your adrenals, which will shut down digestion.
Any perceived or real stressor can stop digestion in its tracks. Your body doesn’t care about digesting food when it’s concerned with your safety. Work deadlines, a fight with your child, or any other event that the body may react to with elevated cortisol can interrupt digestion.
Stress can mess with your hormones and your healthy gut bacteria, indirectly cause a toxic load on the liver and make you hungry for unhealthy foods.
Practice stress management daily. Avoid stressful situations when possible. Deep breathing, good quality sleep and daily exercise are important.
Reduce Your Toxic Load
The body is designed to protect itself so if your liver is working overtime to detoxify excess hormones, chemicals and other bad stuff, the skin, hair and nails will suffer. And, if your immunity is lowered, or it’s busy fighting an infection, nutrients may not be available for your skin, hair and fingernails.
One of the best things I’ve found for strong fingernails, healthy hair and glowing skin is to eliminate all commercial brands of hygiene and personal care products. I now use mainly all-natural products for my hair, skin and teeth. While these products may not cleanse any better or act as miracle cures for dry skin, they do reduce the toxic load on my liver.
What About Nutrition?
What you eat matters, of course. Even if your digestion is compromised or your extremely stressed out, focus on eating mainly whole foods that promote strong fingernails, healthy hair and great skin.
Your nails, skin and hair are made from a protein called keratin. Keratin is a structural protein that protects epithelial cells from damage or stress. This means that you need adequate protein to maintain strong fingernails, healthy hair and glowing skin.
Protein from grass-fed red meat or poultry, pasture-raised eggs, or high-quality protein powder are helpful. Try a fermented vegan protein powder to help build up a healthy gut microbiome too.
Antioxidants protect you against free radicals, which are damaging to skin and fast-track the aging process. Blueberries, strawberries, cherries, or any other brightly colored berry or fruit are full of antioxidants. You can also get a number of antioxidants for strong fingernails from raw nuts and seeds, legumes and most vegetables.
Zinc helps to make the proteins found in your hair, skin and nails. Oysters have the highest amount of zinc but you can also find this essential mineral in beef, poultry and beans.
Many people jumped on the biotin craze a few years ago. This B vitamin has been shown to help increase the production of keratin. In fact, people with weak nails and hair often have a biotin deficiency. Biotin is naturally found in eggs.
To retain moisture in your skin, you need a few servings of healthy fats every day. Salmon offers omega-3 fatty acids and promotes healthy skin. Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, a problem associated with weak hair and nails and dull skin.
You can also get essential fats from avocado, extra virgin olive oil, virgin coconut oil, cold-pressed flaxseed oil, and raw nuts and seeds.
Beta carotene is a wonderful vitamin for healthy skin and hair. It helps to stimulate hair growth and gives your skin a radiant quality. Beta carotene is found in sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, mangos and pumpkins.
Foods to Avoid for Strong Fingernails and Healthy Hair
If you’re looking for strong fingernails, healthy hair and radiant skin, there are some foods to avoid, too.
Diet pop, particularly aspartame, has been linked with hair loss. Sugar is pro-inflammatory and disrupts protein absorption. Processed white carbs have zero nutritional value and they can lead to gut dysbiosis. Alcohol is dehydrating plus it interferes with estrogen detoxification and zinc absorption.
Strong fingernails are a true indication of good health. And, when your skin glows and your hair shines, you know things are going well. Remember that your digestion needs to work at its best and that your liver can’t be overtaxed, so if you’re struggling to attain the look of health, try some of the tips above today.