Being paleo makes us more aware of the signs of good health (clear skin, thick hair etc) but are our fingernails good health indicators?
I was always told that the colour of your finger nailbeds when pressed was a good indicator that your iron levels were healthy. Any evidence that this is true?
My nails are a bit screwy - I always have white spots on them (I work two fairly physical jobs so they might just be due to bumping and squishing) but lately I've had some small red vertical lines under a couple of them, and my nail beds aren't a uniform colour. Sometimes they're kind of purplish, or a bit yellow, or white. The "half-moons" at the base of my nails aren't uniform either, they're either off centre or kind of blend in with the rest of the nailbed.
Is there any actual evidence that the state of our fingernails tells us anything about our general health? Or does the state of our fingernails merely reflect what we might be doing with our hands on a daily basis?
I work with nails professionally and yes, they do indicate health in many ways. Most of what you're describing however is just the result of bumping and bruising. Below your cuticle is the nail matrix, basically a stencil that dictates the shape and appearance of your nail as it grows. It's easily damaged and once damaged it doesn't repair itself. That's why old people have so many ridges on their nails - many many years of matrix scars. So the matrix dictates the nail itself (including the 'moon') and then the relationship your nail has with the skin underneath it dictates the colouring. This is where health shows the most, but your issues sound like bruises and air bubbles (without being able to see them). Hope that helps!
I was reading in the book
"Why Stomach Acid is good for you"
That weak or frail nails can be related to a poor digestion system, your body is not getting the amount of nutrition from the food you eat.
With that my Girlfriend has very weak finger nails and she also has horrible digestion and celiac. I don't know about her nails have spots or anything like that has she covers he nails up with fake ones.
They do tell us a bit, but interpretation stills needs an expert. I know that they are used as one of the means of diagnoses by traditional medicine practitioners in India - Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani.
The easiest for the layman to do is noticing a yellow-brownish discoloration of the fingernails. You can be quite confident that the nails belong to a regular smoker. There are other ones that you can find here Nail diseases under "Nail changes and conditions associated with them"
Definitely. Brittle fingernails is a pretty common symptom with vegetarians/vegans, and for Paleos, Richard at FreeTheAnimal (here http://freetheanimal.com/2011/04/recent-cooking-and-meals-classic-caesar-dressing-chicken-picatta-pork-chops-fried-potatoes-and-beef-filet.html#comment-68325 ) talks about how eating too many raw eggs caused his fingernails to become brittle. According to Chris Masterjohn (here: http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/Egg_Yolk.html ) it's specifically the raw egg white which contains the antinutrients that are eliminated by cooking.
Even while paleo at some points my nails were extremely brittle. I put it down to extremes of hot and cold while cycling in the winter and going to bikram yoga. But then I tried taking zinc supplements and suddenly my nails grew fast, strong and white. So I think while some chemicals and soaps and weather can affect them, I think nutrition is very important for nail health.
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