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Are you plastering over the cracks of a poor diet with beauty products?

Ever noticed just how many different types of nail treatments there are? It’s mind-boggling. Base coats, gels, polishes, oils. Diamond hard this, magic grow that. Weak, brittle nails are certainly big business.

I’ve sampled a fair few of these “miracle grow” products over the years. You see, annoyingly, the thumb nail on my right hand would peel at the same spot every time it grew. This was particularly irksome if I’d just gone to the hassle of painting them. I don’t remember when it first started splitting on me, but I’d guess at around 20 years ago. I tried the brush-on strengthener oils, the nail boosting cuticle creams, the “no peeling” base coats that promised, but failed, to stick my nail together. But still, that thumb nail would grow and split, grow and split – month after month, year after year.

Until, that is, this year. Yes, dear reader, I can report with some jubilation that my nail is finally growing in one piece – hurrah! With due respect to Sally Hansen and other nail brands, I can attribute this transformation not to any nail treatment oil but to an improvement in my diet. Though I’ve never been one to skimp on fat, I’m now eating tonnes of the stuff (that’s good fats, mind). Did you know that it’s estimated that 90% of us are chronically lacking in Omega 3 fats? That shows up in dry skin or weak nails (not to mention that “chicken skin” effect on the back of the arm…bet you’re feeling for that now!).

Rather than pasting together a weak nail, we’d be far, far better off feeding our bodies from the inside out – and that means eating loads of the healthy fats you find in things like oily fish, eggs, nuts and seeds.

Actually, our nails are pretty good at letting us know what we’re lacking. Nails are made out of protein, so the first thing you can try is adding more to your diet. Organic eggs are loaded with biotin which is key to maintaining strong, healthy nails. If you find your nails are brittle, thin, curved, or have ridges, it can be a sign of anaemia or iron deficiency. Think red meat or leafy greens like spinach and kale to grab that much-needed iron. If you have white spots on your nails, poor growth and inflamed cuticles, you may be lacking zinc in your diet. If that’s you, it’s time to eat more of this crucial mineral, so try eating more pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds.

For me, my little bottles of nail boosters have been given the boot. I’m now keeping a close eye on my (currently intact) thumb nail as it seems to be a pretty good barometer of whether I’m lacking the right nutrients or not.

Over to you now…is there something your nails are trying to tell you?

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