(NaturalNews) A lot of problems can contribute to unattractive nails, from a lack of nutrients to a biting habit. When you chew your nails, you not only make them look bad, you also invite infections. Even if you don't chew them, poor eating habits rob your body of the nutrients it needs for strong, healthy nails.
Brittle, short and dirty nails give the impression that someone has poor hygiene or doesn't care about their health. If your nails aren't as long and beautiful as you want them to be, consider changing up your diet or trying some natural remedies to stop biting.
Break the biting habit
Nervousness, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder are some of the emotional and mental causes of nail biting. These issues may require professional help, but chewing your nails could simply be a bad habit. There are several things you can do to fight the compulsion.
Keeping your nails clean decreases temptation. Many people bite their nails because they are dirty, as simple as that. Cleaning, cutting and buffing them regularly may make you less likely to bite.
Anti-biting nail polishes with a bitter taste deter some people from biting, but those nail polishes are full of chemicals. A simpler, healthier solution is to put hot sauce, lime juice or lemon juice on your nails. Pick the one that is the least appealing taste-wise and apply it regularly.
If making your fingernails gross tasting isn't good enough, putting band aids on your fingertips prevents you from getting your teeth on the nails. This may not be fun at work, but if it's a real problem, you can always put the band aids on your thumbs only, the fingers most people go to first, and then you can put the band aids on when you get home. Keeping a coin in your pocket to play with can help you resist the urge to bite while at work.
Eating for nail health
Fingernails grow quick, strong and smooth when you eat right. There are a few key nutrients you need for your nails. Minerals like calcium and magnesium are essential for nail growth and repairing the damage you did with your teeth. Even if you don't bite your nails, they'll still get damaged from minor scrapes and scratches. Also, a lack of these minerals can often be the cause of nail biting. Some foods that are high in mineral include:
Garlic may be helpful too for healthy nail growth. If your nails are growing fine, but they are dull looking, you may need more essential fatty acids in your diet. Nuts, seeds and salmon are high in these important nutrients. Too few B vitamins leads to dry or dark fingernails. Vitamin B12 and biotin are especially important. A vitamin B complex supplement can cover all your bases, but some good sources of biotin include:
Leafy, green vegetables
Nuts and beans are also great sources of protein. Your nails can be weak without sufficient protein, which is needed to make a type of protein called keratin that is a main component of fingernails. Soybeans, whole grains, legumes and dairy products are high in protein too.
Last but not least: vitamin C. Insufficient amounts of vitamin C in your diet may lead to hang nails. To avoid them, eat plenty of fruits such as:
A balanced diet rich in these healthy foods may improve the state of your nails and could also give you stronger, shinier hair. The better your nails start to look, the more you'll want to take care of them.
About the author: Sarka-Jonae Miller is a former personal trainer and massage therapist. She has a journalism degree from Syracuse University. Sarka-Jonae currently writes romantic comedy novels and romantic erotica under the same SJ Miller. Get more health and wellness tips from SJ's natural health Twitter feed or from SJ's Facebook page. SJ's books can be found on Amazon.