Fingernails and health – Did you know your nails can reveal clues to your overall health?
Fingernails and health - The condition of our nails corresponds to our internal organs, and body functions. The color and condition of your nails is a reflection of the quality of the blood that nourishes them. They are reflections of your total health. A touch of white here, a rosy tinge there, or some rippling or bumps may be a sign of disease in the body, food intolerance or nutritional imbalances. Problems in the liver, lungs, and heart can show up in your nails.
Fingernails and health – When you care for your nails and hands, you must first note carefully that the appearance and color have changed since changes may signal the existence of a condition more or less serious. Despite its apparent solidity, nail is actually quite vulnerable to external environment, and so does the internal functioning of the body. Repeated aggression, lack of care or not, too many treatments, affect the nail, marking it clearly. Fatigue, poor diet, no daily intake of protein, vitamins and minerals, also influences the structure of the nail and, consequently, its resistance. Of course, they add real potential diseases that result in fingernails color change or producing micro-lesions that reflect a poor health of the body.
The nails on our body are composed of laminated layers of a protein called keratin that’s also found in our skin and hair, and are made up of six parts. This grows from the area at the base of the nail under your cuticles. This is another area where fungus can form and you can begin to have ridges on your fingernails.
Nails grow at a rate of around 1 mm per week – that’s twice the rate of toenails – and take around six months to grow from bottom to top. As a result they act as a map revealing your physical health and general well-being.
Healthy nail beds are pink due to the rich blood supply underneath them. Depending on their shape, texture and color, your nails can provide important clues to underlying disorders, food intolerance, nutritional imbalances or more obviously, an accident.
Tiny white splotches dotting otherwise healthy-looking pink nails are not normally a sign of anything serious. Most often, those spots are the manifestation of some type of trauma to the nail. If you injure the nail matrix—the area at the base of the nail where new nail cells are created—you’ll see the results of that trauma show up as white spots as the nails grow out.
But if you’re certain you didn’t injure your nails and you are noticing recurring white spots, it could be symptoms of a serious disorder – but in most cases are caused by iron or zinc deficiency. There are several other causes—including the skin conditions psoriasis and eczema, or a diet that’s deficient in the mineral zinc (found in whole grains, poultry and seafood).
Show high content of sugar from alcohol, fruit and chocolate. Also indicates lack of zinc which is needed for mineral breakdown in the process of digestion. Eat zinc-rich foods such as whole grains and chicken and also, consider taking zinc supplements.
If the nails are mostly white with darker rims, this might indicate liver problems, such as hepatitis. Indication lack of iron and poor circulation where the blood is not reaching the end of your fingers. ‘Build blood by increasing your magnesium intake,’ recommends naturopath Cornelis Van Dalen.
Dark red nails
Can result from high content of fatty acids and cholesterol due to excess of dairy, sugar and salt. This can lead to an under-active liver and blocked arteries. Replacing refined foods with whole grain rice and bread. Also flush out the system with plenty of fresh vegetables and at least five glasses of water per day.
Indicate an upset digestive system caused by over consumption of sugar, pharmaceutical drugs, fruits and juices. Avoid tropical fruit – which hold a high content of sugar – and eat plenty of seasonal vegetables, whole grains and pulses.
Yellow nail syndrome
Yellow discoloration in your fingernails may result from a respiratory condition, such as chronic bronchitis, or from swelling of your hands (lymphedema). In yellow nail syndrome, nails thicken and new growth slows, resulting in discoloration. Nails affected with this condition may lack a cuticle and may detach from the nail bed in places.
Although this condition is often a sign of respiratory disease or diabetes, it’s possible to have yellow nails and not have a respiratory condition. Yellow nails may also result from any condition that causes the growth of your nails to slow down.
When the normally smooth surface of the fingernail has several small dents or pits in it, this may be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis. Psoriasis is a skin condition that starts in the nails 10% of the time. The inflammatory skin condition—it shows up as red, scaly patches on the skin—can also affect the skin cells in the nails. Instead of growing out smoothly, the surface of the nail takes on a dented appearance. Once the psoriasis is treated and under control, nails will slowly return to normal. (Since nails only grow about a millimeter per week, it will take a few months for the old, pitted nail to fully grow out and be replaced with a healthy one.)
Biting your nails may be nothing more than an old habit, but in some cases it is a sign of persistent anxiety that could benefit from treatment. Nail biting or picking has also been linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder. If you cannot stop, it is worth discussing with your doctor.
Clubbing occurs when the tips of your fingers enlarge and your nails curve around your fingertips. This condition results from low oxygen levels in your blood and could be a sign of lung disease. Clubbing is also associated with inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.
A healthy nail has a specific shape—slightly raised in the middle, then curving down a bit at the tip.Spoon nails (koilonychia) are soft nails that look scooped out. The depression usually is large enough to hold a drop of liquid. Spoon nails may be a sign of iron deficiency anemia. As with many health problems, it can take months of iron deficiency before the problem shows up in the nails. And when the anemia is corrected, it will take awhile for normal-shaped nails to re-grow.
With the condition known as Terry’s nails, your nails look opaque, but the tip has a dark band. Sometimes this can be attributed to aging. In other cases, it can be a sign of serious illness, such as Congestive heart failure, Diabetes, Liver disease, Malnutrition.
Beau’s lines are indentations that run across your nails. They can appear when growth at the area under your cuticle is interrupted by injury or severe illness. Diseases or illnesses associated with Beau’s lines include:
- Uncontrolled diabetes
- Circulatory diseases, such as peripheral artery disease
- Illness associated with a high fever, caused by pneumonia, scarlet fever, mumps or measles
Nail separates from nail bed
With a condition known as onycholysis, your fingernails become loose and can separate from the nail bed. If your nails show signs of detaching, this may be associated with:
- Injury or infection
- Thyroid disease
- Drug reactions
- Reactions to nail hardeners or acrylic nails
The nail plate is made up of several layers of keratin (a protein). Ideally, those layers are sealed together to form a unified, strong nail. But when nails aren’t protected—your hands are in water a lot, or exposed to cold, dry air—those layers tend to delaminate. The result is nails that are likely to peel. The main reason why most people face the problem of peeling nails is lack of protein. The ones who are facing the problem of nail peeling have to make sure that they add a good amount of fruits, vegetables and some supplements that could strengthen the nails on the overall basis.
- Reactions to Climate Changes: There are many people who are quite sensitive to climatic changes and this leads to chipped and peeling nails. All those who feel that the cold weather leaves them with peeled nails have to make sure that their hands are properly moisturized and covered when they step out of their house.
- Reaction of Medicines: – Any one who is taking some medicines also need to take care of nails as there are many that leave the nails chipped. It is better to speak to the doctor regarding side effects of the prescribed medicines as this would help one to take the medication that does not leaves the nails peeled.
- Excess exposure to chemicals: – It is better to wear gloves and take necessary precautions if ones work involves exposure to any hard chemicals. It is better to keep the hands well moisturized as most of the times dry hands also lead to flaky nails.
- In water for too long: – If the job involves wetting of nails on regular basis, it is always better to dry the nails properly using a soft towel. All those who immerse their hands in water on a regular basis have to make sure that they do not leave their hands dry overnight. It is better to apply olive oil on the hands while going to bed.
By some estimates, about 20 percent of women suffer from a condition called “brittle nail syndrome.” While it may sound like just a fancy name for nails that break easily, the causes go deeper than that. Brittle nails are ones that can’t hold on to moisture, so the layers of the nail plate dry out and crack. Medically speaking, it’s possible for an under-active thyroid to cause both dry skin and brittle nails. Nutritionally, a diet low in iron can cause nails to become thin, brittle and easily broken (eating more green, leafy vegetables, red meat and eggs will help boost your iron intake). Biotin supplements (a B-complex vitamin) have also been shown to improve the condition of brittle nails. And your habits play a role as well. The main culprit: excessive exposure to water. Constantly wetting and drying your hands (and nails) can make brittleness worse. Indicate liver congestion from lack of vegetables, pulses and fish.
Cracked or split nails
Dry, brittle nails that frequently crack or split have been linked to thyroid disease. Cracking or splitting combined with a yellowish hue is more likely due to a fungal infection.
Horizontal lines/indentations can be caused by moving from a warm climate to a cold climate. They can also be caused by a change in the way you are eating. These line/ridges take time to appear, so this can be an indication of past dietary problems, which will take time to clear up as long as you are feeding your body a balanced and healthy raw/vegan diet. I’ve seen people change to a raw/vegan diet and yet they are still not balanced because they eat mostly what I call raw junk. So please make sure that you are eating properly. Indicate high levels of stress.
Vertical lines/ridges are a result of nutrient imbalances, over intake of carbohydrates and salt, under intake of protein and fats. Point to congested liver, kidneys, digestion tract and liver stagnation.
Anyway, irrespective of whatever story your nails convey it really feels good to have well groomed finger nails. A healthy diet is the key yet sometimes we need a little boost and supplements rich in Vitamin B, potassium, iron and calcium such as soy products, celery, eggs, sea food or fish oil, which can help your fingernail health tremendously. The right vitamins and minerals is not only good for your nails, you will help your fingernails and health together.
Fingernails and health – To maintain healthy fingernails, avoid infections, and improve nail appearance, try the following tips:
- Keep your nails clean and dry.
- Avoid nail-biting or picking.
- Apply moisturizer to your nails and cuticles every day. Creams with urea, phospholipids, or lactic acid can help prevent cracking.
- Manicure at least once in a month is a good idea for maintaining the nails well and pampering them.
- File your nails in one direction and round the tip slightly, rather than filing to a point.
- Don’t remove the cuticles or clean too deeply under your nails, which can lead to infection.
- Don’t dig out ingrown toenails. See a dermatologist if they become bothersome.
- Avoid nail polish removers that contain acetone or formaldehyde.
- If you have artificial nails, check regularly for green discoloration (a sign of bacterial infection).
- Eat a balanced diet and take vitamins containing biotin.
- Giving your nails a regular massage is also a great way to help give you healthy fingernails.
Fingernails and health – In Conclusion, the condition of our nails corresponds to our internal organs, and body functions. Therefore when a certain nail shows some problem or condition, (like white line/spots, ridges etc), it is a sign that the corresponding organ or energy is unbalanced. To maintain your healthy fingernails over time, ask your doctor to take a look at them during your next checkup. Your thumb/nail corresponds to your lungs, the index finger – the large intestine, the middle finger – your heart, the ring finger – triple heater, the baby finger – your heart and small intestine.
Remember our external appearance always reflects our internal condition.
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