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 – which is why we talk about what potential nutrient deficiencies you may have if you have brittle nails, fungus, or nails that refuse to grow.

3 Main Chemicals to Avoid

First up is a nail polish evaluation. There are three common and toxic chemicals that are used in nail polish that you should avoid.

They are:

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 classified as a human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Phthalates– a family of chemicals used to increase 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:

Scotch Naturals
No-Miss
Suncoat
Honeybee Gardens
Piggy Paint

My friend the Wellness Mama wrote a detailed blog on the best natural polish options if you want a deeper evaluation on 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.

5 Things You Can To Create Better Nails

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 naked 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 toe nail 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:

Radishes
Cucumbers
Bananas
Kale
Raw milk
Goat’s milk
Pasture-raised eggs
Asparagus
Oysters and other shellfish
Gluten-free oats
Brown rice

And finally, our top favorite supplements to strengthen nails and fill in the deficiencies that can cause weak or brittle nails are:

Silica
Zinc
B vitamins
Spirulina
Biotin
Royal jelly

Resources:

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/mmg/mmg.asp?id=157&tid=29

http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/formaldehyde/formaldehyde-fact-sheet

https://toxtown.nlm.nih.gov/text_version/chemicals.php?id=24