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3 Scary Ways Sugar is Destroying Your Nails

The health of our nails can be a very visual indication of our overall health – from our gut to our circulation. If brittle, dry nails are your reality, it could be worth putting your sugar habits under the microscope. Here are 3 scary ways the sweet stuff is compromising your nail health.

Nutrient malabsorption

A diet high in added sugar is known to mess with our nutrient absorption, often through its effects on the gut. When there is an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, it can lead to malabsorption of important nail-boosting nutrients like biotin, vitamin B12, iron and zinc – all of which are crucial for nail health. Let’s take zinc, for instance; this essential mineral plays a crucial role in nail health and is required for the proper functioning of enzymes that are involved in the synthesis of keratin. Keratin is a protein that makes up the structure of nails – without adequate levels of this stuff, we’re left with damaged, brittle nails, as it’s responsible for the strength and integrity of nails, and a deficiency in zinc can lead to weak nails that are more prone to breaking and splitting. Plus, this nutrient helps to maintain the health of the nail bed, which is the tissue underneath the nail that supports its growth. Zinc is also important for immune function, which can indirectly affect nail health. A weakened immune system can make a person more susceptible to nail infections, which can damage the nail bed and lead to brittle nails. So, instead of ultra-processed foods, consider loading up on any of the following zinc-rich foods:

  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Whole grains
  • Yoghurt
  • Cheese

Gut health

Poor gut health can lead to chronic inflammation in the body as a result of an imbalanced microbiome – this is where the bad bacteria start flourishing over the good. This is also known as dysbiosis, and it’s known to occur due to a number of factors, from environmental pollutants to stress and poor diet – and that includes a high-sugar diet. The bad bacteria produce toxins that can damage the gut lining, which poses a further risk of leaky gut syndrome, which allows undigested food particles, toxins and other unwanted nasties to leak into the bloodstream. This can then trigger an immune response, leading to further inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation in the gut can also lead to systemic inflammation, which can affect other organs in the body and lead to a variety of health problems. This is where our nails come in! Inflammation can disrupt the normal growth of nails and lead to weaker, more brittle nails – plus, as we mentioned above, there’s also the issue of poor absorption of nutrients that comes with an impaired gut microbiome.


Collagen is a protein that is responsible for the structure and elasticity of the skin, but it is also found in bones, tendons, ligaments and – you guessed it - nails. Excess sugar consumption is known to affect collagen levels through a process called glycation. Glycation occurs when excess sugar in the bloodstream reacts with collagen and other proteins in the body, forming what are known as advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These AGEs can accumulate in tissues, causing damage and reducing the elasticity and strength of collagen. A high-sugar diet can also lead to the production of free radicals in the body, which can further damage collagen production – so, whichever way you look at it, a heavy sugar habit will do your collagen levels no favours.

So, what does this mean for your nails? Well, collagen is necessary for the growth and maintenance of nails, as it provides structural support and helps to maintain their strength and resilience. It also plays a role in the production of new nail cells, helping to promote healthy nail growth and preventing those brittle, fragile nails many of us have experienced at one time or other. Collagen also contains amino acids such as glycine and proline, which are important for the formation of healthy nails. These amino acids are involved in the production of keratin, that protein we mentioned that is so integral to the structure of nails and helps to keep them strong and healthy. But that’s not all collagen does – it also helps maintain the overall health of nails as it promotes blood flow and circulation, which is necessary for delivering nutrients and oxygen to the nail bed, thereby supporting nail growth and health. That’s why it’s so important to enjoy a diet high in collagen-boosting nutrients, as opposed to those ultra-processed, sugar-laden foods that line the supermarket shelves.

Whether you’re looking to eat healthier or fight off a sugar addiction, we’re here to help. Join us for the 8-Week Program and we’ll help you change the way you look at food – and that doesn’t mean you have to follow restrictive diets or miss out on your favourite foods; we believe you can still enjoy delicious food without jeopardising your health. With celebrity chef Sarah Glover on our panel of experts, you’ll have an array of fun recipes at your fingertips, along with our own exclusive armoury of simple, tasty and healthy recipes for everything from daily meals to impressive entertaining. We know it can be hard to stick to your health goals – especially when you’re trying to manage it alone. When you sign up with us, you’ll have access to clear-cut meal plans, community support and exclusive access to our sugar-free content. Here’s what’s on offer:

  1. 8 weeks of meal plans and shopping lists.
  2. 90+ member-only recipes.
  3. Community forums to share your journey.
  4. Support and guidance from the I Quit Sugar team.
  5. Exclusive content from our panel of experts.

So, if you’re ready to ditch sugar and the host of maladies that come with it, it’s not too late to join. We’d love to help you get started on your health journey. Sign up HERE today!

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