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What can our nails tell us about digestion?

What your Nails tell you about your Digestion

What if I told you that I could look at your nails and tell you about your digestion? Sounds woo woo, right? Now let me explain because this is something I use in practice to help give me clues about what is going on with my patients.


Digestion is so important to our overall health! We have to make it a priority to pay attention to all the signs we can get and your nails are like a digestion report card.


What are the causes of Nail Changes?


1) Low Stomach Acid

If you’re experiencing brittle nails or vertical ridges, then it’s time to look at other symptoms of low stomach acid. If you’re also experiencing indigestion, bloating, or heartburn then the key is to increase the level of stomach acid.


What to do: Using apple cider vinegar is one of my favourite ways to address low stomach acid. The acidity from the vinegar will help increase the body’s own stomach acid production. By doing this the food we eat, especially protein, will begin to breakdown properly in our stomach and continue throughout the rest of our digestive tract. Start with 1 tsp in a bit of water before you eat (Tip: if you are doing this long term then drink through a straw to save your enamel.)


2) Low Zinc

Do you ever notice white spots on your fingernails or on the nails of others? You hear a lot of theories including calcium deficiency or nail damage. The actual underlying cause of those white spots is a zinc deficiency. Other signs of a zinc deficiency include a weakened immune system, change in taste, loss of appetite and diarrhea.


What to do: The best food source of zinc is from oysters. If you’re not an oyster fan then other options are beef, crab, cashews and chickpeas, to name a few.


3) Inadequate Protein

Nothing is worse than breaking a nail. I may be exaggerating here but if you’ve broken a nail you know what I mean. Now, imagine that your nails were constantly flaking, breaking and generally just a mess! This is an issue.

Our nails are (usually) so strong because the covering is made primarily of protein. So it makes sense that we’re not consuming enough, and then we start to see our nails breaking easily.


What to do: If you consume animal products, chicken, eggs, soy, and seafood are great options. If you don’t consume animal products, nuts, quinoa, nutritional yeast, lentils and tempeh are excellent sources. Even if you do consume animal products, these vegan options are a great staple in any diet.

(Tip: If you find that your nails are still breaking even though you have added in protein and supported your stomach acid then it may be time to review this list of symptoms to see if it resonates with you. The thyroid can have huge impacts on nail growth and health)



I’m all about helping you make simple and effective changes to improve your health and wellbeing. If you’re noticing these changes to your nails, it’s time to look at other symptoms related to the specific changes. From there, we can address the proper dietary changes to ensure that your digestive system is functioning optimally.