Eat your way to stronger, healthier nails

Improve the look and feel of your nails with these nutrition tips.

By Dr. Joey Shulman

The importance of nail health

What are your hands saying about you? My mother used to always encourage my sister and me to take care of our hands. "People look at your hands -- they say a lot about you," she would tell us. As my career in nutritional research grew, I soon came to discover that in addition to regular manicures and moisturizing externally, the look and feel of your nails can be greatly improved by the food choices you make. Eating well can benefit both the look and strength of your nails and surrounding skin.

Nails grow about one-tenth of a millimetre a day, which means that it takes a fingernail about four to six months to fully regenerate. Healthy nails appear smooth, without ridges or grooves. They are uniform in colour and consistency and free of spots or discoloration.

Similar to symptoms such as fatigue, bloating or rashes, the health of our nails is often an indicator of what is going on inside your body. For example, ridges or spots in the nail bed can often indicate a nutritional deficiency while discoloration of the nails, such as a green or yellow colour, can indicate a more serious condition such as chronic bronchitis. If you do have a concern with the health of your nails, speak to your doctor.

As the old saying goes, "You are what you eat." In order to improve the look and feel of your nails from the inside out, simply follow the nutritional steps below.

Eat your almonds and walnuts
Almonds and walnuts are loaded with omega-3 essential fats. Omega-3 fats have been shown to improve brain function, have cardio-protective benefits and reduce inflammatory response. In addition, omega-3 essential fats provide the fatty acids your nails need to stay strong and prevent splitting. Sprinkle half a handful of nuts over your salad or stir-fry or mix into yogurt to get an omega-3 boost.

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