Department of Clinical Alimentation and Laboratory Diagnosis of Medical University of Gdańsk
Smooth and shiny nails stand for good general condition of our whole organism. Do your nails look healthy and strong?
Due to the fact that healthy and strong nails are not only a matter of proper care but mostly a matter of good health, food we eat every day really has an impact.
It’s well-known that some abnormalities in functioning of our organisms are reflected in condition of our skin, hair and nails. In times when methods of medical diagnostic were very limited and examination of a patient was based on thorough observation including skin and its appendages, a condition of nails was helpful to state a diagnosis. Due to the fact that nails grow slowly (app. 0,1mm per day), their condition may indicate changes that took place in our organism in time period of a several to a dozen of so weeks earlier. And conversely, to bring-back healthy nails, we need even a few months of treatment, includingproper diet.
Healthy, diversified, well-balanced diet helps us to keep fit and slim body, nice complexion and nails and above all else may protect us against diseases of affluence such as: heart diseases, brain diseases, diabetes, hypertension, obesity and tumours. Mediterranean diet, which is applied for thousands years, stands out as an effective and pleasant alternative easy to implement. It gives long-term effects, doesn’t require dramatic changes of nourishing habits and – what is very important – teaches how to make pro-health choices. People who eat a lot of raw, unprocessed food such as fruit and vegetables, olive oil, fish, non-fat meat, nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and also reasonable amounts of wine, will surely enjoy good health and beauty.
We can be liable to the shortage of vitamins and mineral compounds during various periods of our lives. These shortages may be more severe among those who don’t pay attention to the way they feed themselves, eat in a rush, in fast-food bars which serve highly processed meals full of animal fat and sugar. Please be aware that in some moments of our lives such as recovery from the disease, children in their intensive growth, pregnant and breastfeeding women, people on reduction diet, people at their increased physical and mental effort and elderly people may be prone to such disorders and thus should plan their daily menu.
Healthy nails are smooth, shiny and strong. White dots, crosswise and lengthwise lines, yellow or green discolouration or malformation of nail plate (so called spoon-like nails or clock-glass shaped nails) may indicate less or more serious disorders in functioning of our organisms. Diet poor in nutritious proteins, vitamins and some mineral compounds, especially ferrum and zinc, results in brittle and weak nails. Fungal infections, some medicines, hormonal disorders, stress, or serious illnesses of a liver, thyroid or respiratory system may have the same effects on nails. We already know that good condition of our nails depends mostly on proteins, ferrum, zinc, selenium, biotin and other vitamin of group B, vitamin A and E, calcium, silica compunds and essential unsaturated lipid acids.
Let’s see then what sort of food is rich in these ingredients?
– products rich in proteins: eggs, poultry, fish, leguminous plants (pea, bean, soy, lentil, fava)
– products rich in ferrum:liver, red meat, fish, poultry, seafood (especially oysters), egg yolk, leguminous plants, wholegrain products, cereal, dark-green-leaf vegetables (spinach and broccoli), dried fruit (figs, raisins, dates and apricots)
– products rich in zinc: meat, cheese, wholegrain bread, leguminous plants, oatmeal, grits, eggs, nuts
– biotin (in the other words vitamin B7 or vitamin H): is produced mainly in gastrointestinal tract in presence of intestinal bacteria. Yoghurt, bonny clabber, buttermilk, pickled cucumbers and cabbage create ideal conditions for development of these good intestinal bacteria
– products rich in vitamins B: wholewheat bread, cereal, seeds, nuts, yeast, grits, milk, eggs, cheese, meat
– products rich in vitamins A and E: cod-liver oil, butter, eggs, spinach
– products rich in calcium: milk and dairy products (yoghurt, buttermilk, bonny clabber, cottage cheese, cheese)
– silica compounds: field horsetail tea or supplements containing horsetail
– products rich in essential unsaturated lipid acids: plant oils, (soy, sunflower, rapeseed), olive oil, fich, nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds)
– gelatin: protein derivative obtained from animal bones and gristles. For diversified diet it can be consumed in meal such as chicken jelly, fish jelly.
Also magnesium, iodine and copper influence the condition of nails. If our diet is diversified,, it means that it includes food from each level of food pyramid and the shortages of these elements should occur. Magnesium compounds can be easily supplied to the organism with highly mineralized waters like Muszynianka or Piwniczanka.
In case of considerable shortages of vitamins and minerals, they can be supplemented. However please be aware that pharmaceutical supplements can be only an additional source.
We already know that to maintain healthy and nice condition of nails, we need to supply our organism with all essential nutritional ingredients. Our diet has to be diversified. Everyday menu has to include wholegrain bread (whole-wheat or rye), wholegrain grits, brown rice and rye pasta. Let’s make conscious choices of wholegrain, full-of-B-vitamins and fiber.
The less processed food, the more valuable ingredients and mineral salts it contains. Fruit and vegetables are best raw because then they contain the most of vitamins and mineral salts. They are also a great source of antioxidants and fiber. Antioxidants are important because they protect our organism from free radicals and their harmful impact. These are free radicals that damage cells of our bodies and are responsible fir skin aging. It’s easy to remember to grab fruit and vegetables of intensive colour (highly yellow, orange, red and dark green) anytime we feel like having something full of antioxidants. Such fruit and vegetables contain a great deal of vitamin A, C and E, flavonoids, xanthophylls, licopene and other antioxidants. Results of recent research on fibre indicate its positive role in our diet. Supplied in a form of wholegrain bread, vegetables and fried fruit, it may slow down the aging processes.
Calcium also ans its impact on healthy and strong nails and bones. The best source of calcium is dairy products – milk and its derivatives. Moreover if we work for a nice and slim body, we should invite low-fat cottage cheese, bonny clabber and buttermilk into our dining room every day. Low-fat dairy products help to reduce the content of bad animal fat in a diet. Good fat is plant oils such as soy, sunflower, rapeseed, olive oil and also oils in nuts and fish. Plant oils contain a lot of vitamin A, E (these vitamins are also antioxidants) and essential unsaturated lipid acids which have positive impact on condition of our blood vessels because of their ability to reduce cholesterol level in blood. Practice shows that fish and seafood usually appears on our plates once a week only while fish fat is a very good source of lipid acids omega 3. Instead we are very eager to buy supplements containing these ingredients. Having fish for dinner a few times a week would do the job. Fish is also a very good source of vitamin D which is essential for proper absorption of calcium.
We already know that our menu should be based on balanced diet, in which the supply of macro- and microingredients should be in accordance to individual organism needs. Yet we need to emphasize strongly that even the best diet won’t work as long as our lifestyle is unhealthy. Everyday physical activities, giving up smoking, psychological balance, stress reductions and release should be constant elements of our life. Healthy lifestyle is a crucial factor for beauty, health and longevity.
Lek. med. Marta Stankiewicz
Assistant in Department of Clinical Alimentation and Laboratory Diagnosis of Medical University of Gdańsk
Źródłó: pismo „Paznokcie” nr 27.