Today, we talk about how to get healthy, beautiful nails from the outside in, and of course, since this is Food as Medicine, we also focus on the inside out. We discuss what potential nutrient deficiencies you may have if you have brittle nails, fungus, or nails that refuse to grow.
First up is a nail polish evaluation. There are three common and toxic chemicals used in nail polish that you should avoid.
Toluene – Often used in paint thinner, toluene is a volatile, flammable toxin rapidly absorbed after inhalation and is also absorbed through the skin.
Formaldehyde – Known to cause cancer in rats and is classified as a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Phthalates – A family of chemicals used to increase the flexibility of plastic. These are known hormone disrupters.
We suggest doing a polish purge if you regularly paint your own nails, and restock using natural polishes like:
Our friend, the Wellness Mama, wrote a detailed blog on the best natural polish options if you want a deeper evaluation of why these are some of the best. You can also look for indie polishes (hand-made polishes that are either 5-free or 7-free) that pride themselves on not including toxic chemicals in their formulas.
1: Moisturize your cuticles with vitamin E oil or sesame oil. This will moisten them so you can push them back. They will also grow back less thick.
2: Moisturize your nail beds with coconut oil rubbed into them to improve circulation. This should be done on bare nails, and you can spend about a minute per nail bed.
3: Give your hands some love. We spend a lot of time taking care of the skin on our faces, but our hands do so much for us, and they can show their age without enough love. Consider wearing a pair of plastic or cloth gloves to bed once a week while you moisturize your entire hand with olive oil.
4: Alternatively, give your hands an olive oil bath once a week where you’re soaking nails and hands for 5-10 minutes in straight olive oil.
5: For brittle nails that break easily or have fungus, soak them in an apple cider vinegar bath (equal parts water and ACV). This will help to strengthen them as well as help them grow faster. We also love how it helps combat fungal infections (so does coconut oil). If you have fungus and want to take it a step further, add 5 drops of oregano oil to your apple cider vinegar bath. Remember, if you have toenail fungus, it’s a sign of a systemic fungal or candida infection inside your body and something to look into.
Poor quality nails is a sign the body is deficient in something, which gives us an opportunity to use Food as Medicine.
These are the tops foods to strengthen nails:
And finally, our top favorite supplements to strengthen nails and fill in the deficiencies that can cause weak or brittle nails are: