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Do your fingernails chip, peel or break easily?

Fingernails that chip, peel or break easily are a sign of low stomach acid, a damaged intestine and a number of nutritional deficiencies including trace minerals, protein and essential fatty acids.

The nutrient deficiencies are caused by poor eating habits and an inability to digest food due to low stomach acid and poor pancreatic function.

Low stomach acid is a really common problem and leads to lots of digestive complaints, including:

  • H. pylori infections (H. pylori prefers it when your stomach acid is low)
  • Toxic bowel (which can also lead to bad breath and body odour)
  • IBS
  • SIBO and Candida overgrowth
  • Leaky gut syndrome

These conditions can cause many symptoms, both inside and outside your digestive tract

Why can your stomach acid level drop?

Low stomach acid itself can result from a combination of numerous factors:

  • Aging
  • Stress
  • Antacid medications (a BIG problem)
  • Excess sugar and processed foods
  • Gluten sensitivity
  • Cow’s milk intolerance
  • Overeating
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Nutrient deficiencies – notably zinc, B1 and B6

Digestion and finger / toenails

Your fingernails are made from molecules that are assimilated from the food you eat, and unless you have enough stomach acid you simply cannot absorb these nutrients.

Assessing your digestive function and ensuring good quality food and nutrients in the diet will allow your fingernails to strengthen over time.

How can you assess your stomach acid level?

There is a medical test that can check your stomach acid level very accurately.

Alas, it’s hardly ever used (it’s called the Heidelberg capsule test and has been available since 1976, believe it or not).

If you can’t find a doctor who performs this test, here are some options:

  • See a skilled manual therapist such as an osteopath and check the Ridler reflex and Chapman reflex – these are points in your chest/abdomen that become tender when you have low stomach acid.
  • Check your stomach acid level using the Gastro Test (this isn’t easy to do, and I recommend you perform it under the supervision of a practitioner).
  • Do a zinc tally test – it’s an inexpensive zinc liquid that you take a mouthful of; if it tastes metallic your zinc level is probably ok, but the less you can taste the liquid, the more deficient you are (we’ve found it quite accurate).
  • Check your saliva pH – if it’s less than 7.2 you may have a fatty acid deficiency.

Specific lab testing:

The following lab tests can give you confirmation of low stomach acid:

  • Elevated urinary indican on an organic acids test (I see this marker elevated a lot)
  • Increased urinary sediment levels
  • Low iron, B12 and other nutrients on a blood chemistry test
  • Pancreatic elastase I enzyme and undigested food in a stool test
  • Low zinc levels in your blood or hair
  • Fatty acid test (finger prick blood, or full blood tests are available)

Consequences of poor digestion

As I’ve said before, the long-term consequences of low stomach acid and low pancreatic enzymes can be far reaching.

They will lead to a digestive environment that encourages the overgrowth of bad bugs like parasites, Candida and bacteria (especially SIBO).

Leaky gut syndrome may develop, which increases the risk of headaches, skin symptoms, arthritis, fibromyalgia and other problems.

Nutritional deficiencies can develop and lead to a number of common symptoms, including fatigue, anxiety, depression, sleep problems and more.

Restoring your stomach acid level

Having corrected my own stomach acid level after having H. pylori, I can tell you from first hand experience it’s well worth doing!

It will increase energy, improve mood, reduce allergies, uplift your entire digestive process and reduce your risk of developing symptoms later in life.

Here are a few tips on what to improve stomach acid level and get key nutrients into your body for optimal nail health:

  • Chew your food thoroughly
  • Eat in a relaxed state and don’t rush around
  • Use bitters compounds before a meal to stimulate acid production
  • Try betaine HCL supplements (under the supervision of a practitioner)
  • Use some digestive enzymes at the end of meals
  • Improve your fatty acid consumption with whole foods or supplements such as avocado, coconut oil, grass fed butter and ghee; consider EPA and DHA supplementation

Would you like some help?

Realistically, it’s hard to know what’s going on until you get the right testing.

Your situation is different from everyone else’s and will probably require a unique solution that’s tailored to you.

We specialize in helping you navigate the minefield of misleading information that’s out there and hold your hand through the process of getting things right.

The best starting point is a case review and consultation where we spend a full 60min running through your health history, symptoms, family history and diet.

After that, we can recommend the right testing and make sure every ounce of energy you spend on improving your health is spent wisely.

You can learn more about the case review and consultation here.



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