Before the pandemic hit, something that I did pretty religiously was get my nails done. While I proudly rocked long almond-shaped ones that were all mine, I enjoyed getting them powder-dipped or having a gel manicure that would last for weeks on end. However, once I read that long nails aren't exactly "pandemic-friendly" because they tend to store up a lot of germs and I also had to get used to taking care of my own nails (since salons were closed), I started to pay closer attention to how to care of them more than ever. This included when it came to my diet.
Something that you may already know is our nails are made up of a fibrous structural protein called keratin. This automatically means that our nails need protein in order to stay healthy. Not only that but since nails, on average, grow around 2 1/3 millimeters each month, it's important that we consume foods that will increase blood circulation, encourage cell growth and strengthen our nails in the process.
In walks eight foods that will do just that. Whether you stay in the nail salon or you care for your nails at your crib, if you want to see less brittleness, breakage and splitting, these are some of the foods that will help you to accomplish your goal.
One of the best things about eggs is how much protein they've got in them (about six grams per serving). Again, since your nails are made up of protein, I'm pretty sure you can see why I decided to list eggs as one of the best foods for your nails first. Eggs also have a good amount of Vitamin B12, selenium and choline in them. Choline is dope because it helps to build cell membranes (which is something else that your nails need). Also, since eggs have the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in them which can protect your nails (and hair and skin) from damaging UV rays while also promoting elasticity, it certainly can't hurt to add more eggs to your diet.
Another Egg Angle for Your Nails: DIY Eggs and Honey Nail Strengthening Mask Recipe
Cauliflower is the kind of vegetable that's packed with Vitamin C while also being a good source of fiber, folate, choline, the antioxidant sulforaphane and Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K. Vitamin C is really good for your nails because it helps to increase the levels of collagen in your body. That's good to know because collagen works to make your nails less brittle. Sulforaphane is beneficial because it's able to reduce bodily inflammation. Vitamin K is cool because, as we age, our body needs more of this nutrient added to our system; in part, to strengthen our nails and to keep them from breaking as easily.
Another Cauliflower Angle for Your Nails: Cauliflower (Colored) Nail Polish by Palate Polish. It's vegan and cruelty-free.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are considered to be a "perfect" food; a superfood, if you will. It's a starchy veggie that also has plenty of protein and fiber. The amount of Vitamin A that sweet potatoes contain is totally off of the charts (almost 770 percent of the daily value that you need). It's also high in Vitamin C, manganese, Vitamin B6 and potassium, and it contains an impressive amount of pantothenic acid, copper and niacin too.
Your nails need copper because it helps to slow down their aging process. Your nails need manganese because it plays a significant role in the synthesis and production of connective tissue that your nails require.
So, definitely try and eat a baked sweet potato or treat yourself to some sweet potato fries a few times a month (at least).
Another Sweet Potato Angle for Your Nails:Sweet Potato Face Mask (that you can also apply to your hands)
You're gonna be hard-pressed to read an article about foods that are good for you and not see salmon somewhere on the list. As far as your nails go, salmon's omega-3 fatty acids help to deeply moisturize your nails from the inside out, the vitamin B-complex in it contains amino acids that will help to build protein and keep your nails from splitting and peeling, and zinc helps to alleviate white spots on nails (which is typically a sign of having a zinc deficiency).
Another Salmon Angle for Your Nails: Rub some fish oil on your nails a couple of times a week to keep your cuticles moisturized and your nails nice and shiny.
Blueberries are a low-calorie fruit snack that definitely will give your system plenty of antioxidants, vitamins C and K, fiber and manganese. Since they are made up of 85 percent water, blueberries can help to keep your nails hydrated as well. Not only that but did you know that if you don't have enough manganese in your system, that can lead to splitting and/or breaking nails? This means that every time you sprinkle some blueberries onto your cereal or you drink a homemade blueberry smoothie, you will be helping your nails to get stronger by the day!
Another Blueberries Angle for Your Nails: Blueberry Lemon Scrub. Exfoliating your hands (including your nails) can help to remove dead skin cells, even their skin tone and increase blood circulation which will ultimately encourage your nails to grow faster.
6. Yellow Peppers
Although red peppers actually have the most nutritional value, don't sleep on what yellow bell peppers can do for you too. They've also got a good amount of protein in them as well as Vitamin C (569 percent of the daily value), potassium, copper, phosphorus, calcium, Vitamin B6 and folate. All of this works together to reduce free radicals, detoxify your system and slow down the signs of aging.
Also, since phosphorus helps to repair, maintain and even grow tissues and cells while calcium helps to heal damaged tissue, your nails will thank you, every time you dig into a yellow pepper, for sure.
Another Yellow Pepper Angle for Your Nails:Morning Tang Juice Recipe
Fiber helps to detoxify. Folate assists with cell growth and division. Vitamin E works to keep free radicals at bay. Vitamin C reduces oxidative stress and strengthens one's immunity. These are all nutrients that kiwi has in them. As a bonus, when you eat them along with iron-rich foods (such as red meat, dark leafy greens, beans and dried fruit), kiwi can help your system to absorb iron more quickly. And all of this is essential if you want to have long nails that won't break.
Another Kiwi Angle for Your Nails: Kiwi Nail Art Tutorial
Oats are another food that is really good for you. It's a gluten-free whole grain that has a lot of manganese (191 percent of your daily value) as well as phosphorus, protein, fiber, magnesium, copper, zinc, folate and vitamins B1 and B5. Something else that oats contain is the plant compound polyphenols. When it comes to your nails, this is a good thing because that is a compound that is able to protect your nail beds' cells while also keeping your nails hydrated and preventing them from splitting. Just one more food that will help your nails to thrive, from the inside out, in every way!
Another Oats Angle for Your Nails: Check out Allure's feature "Oat Milk Nails Are the Nail-Art Equivalent to No-Makeup Makeup".
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (email@example.com) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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What Are Intrusive Thoughts & How Do We Manage Them?
TW: some depictions of intrusive thoughts may be disturbing for readers.
Have you ever caught your mind drifting off to entertain the most disturbing scenarios imaginable? Maybe you can’t stop thinking of all the ways a loved one could pass away or worrying that you left every candle lit in your apartment to which you’d return to a home in ruins. If distressing ruminations like these have crossed your mind, you may be experiencing an intrusive thought.
What Are Intrusive Thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are unwanted or distressing thoughts, images, or impulses that pop into your mind without your control or consent. These thoughts can be repetitive, unsettling, or even violent in nature, and can cause anxiety and frustration for those who experience them.
“Generally they're unwanted thoughts that come up in our head that interrupt what we're doing or thinking, and can feel very foreign,” says Adia Gooden, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and host of the Unconditionally Worthy podcast. “It’s any thought that intrudes or interrupts what you are doing. They can be distressing and upsetting for us because it feels like we are not in control of them, and they're coming up out of nowhere and aren’t in line with how you normally think.”
What Causes Intrusive Thoughts?
Certain trauma or stress can contribute to the development of intrusive thoughts, so having a challenging experience from the past or current life situations may trigger them to form. “An intrusive thought could come in the form of a flashback, image, or a thought about something that's happened to you,” Dr. Gooden tells xoNecole. “When it gets to the point where you feel like you can't function or make clear decisions, that's when intrusive thoughts become really challenging.”
While some of the 1 billion videos found under the #intrusivethoughts hashtag on TikTok would lead you to believe that these thoughts are nothing more than casual displays of our imagination going untamed. Intrusive thoughts are more than sticking your hand in a soap dispenser, wanting to cut all your hair off at 3 a.m., or having a random impulse to eat fake bread in public.
The Anxiety & Depression Association of America reports that approximately six million individuals, equating to roughly two percent of the American population, encounter intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts are often linked with obsessive-compulsive disorders, but they can also manifest in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, or anxiety.
Examples of Common Intrusive Thoughts
Because of the explicit nature of intrusive thoughts, they tend to cause shame and internal conflict in those who experience them. Although these thoughts can differ from person to person, these ideation can consist of:
- Violent or aggressive thoughts towards oneself or others, such as harming or killing someone;
- Sexual thoughts that are unwanted or inappropriate;
- Repetitive thoughts, such as a song or a phrase that keeps repeating in your mind;
- Contamination or germ-related thoughts or the fear of contamination and getting sick;
- Religious or blasphemous thoughts, such as questioning one's faith or having thoughts that go against religious beliefs;
- Doubts or uncertainty about one's own actions or decisions, such as fear of making a mistake or fear of not doing something right.
Intrusive Thoughts and OCD
That’s why Dr. Gooden encourages everyone to understand the difference between our fleeting thoughts and impulses and true, intrusive thoughts. “What level of distress does it cause and is it something you would never consider,” she says. “If you're finding that these thoughts are getting in the way of you living your life and that you're controlled by the thoughts, those are some signs that it would be good to get some support in navigating it.”
She also emphasizes the importance of understanding that while we may not always have control over our thoughts, we can control our behavior. “On TikTok, people are sort of blaming intrusive thoughts on their behavior, and our behavior is always a choice,” she says. “If we are in our right mind and we're not having a psychotic episode, our behavior is our choice — we are not obligated to follow any given thought that we have.”
Are Intrusive Thoughts Normal?
With intrusive thoughts, it’s natural to question whether these thoughts are “normal” to have. However, these thoughts are not meant to define who you are as a person but simply indicate that you have a functioning human mind with automated thoughts that you, or any of us, can’t control. These thoughts may come, but they don’t have to be acted upon, nor do they define who you are.
“I've worked with clients in the past who say, ‘Why am I thinking these things? What's wrong with me?’ But if you're not acting on the thought, then it's probably not a huge issue,” Dr. Gooden says. “If you are thinking a harmful thought towards yourself or someone else and you are making plans to act on that thought, then yes, we need to do something about it.”
How To Manage Intrusive Thoughts
If you are struggling with managing unwanted thoughts, Dr. Aida suggests taking these tips to help manage your mindset when they occur:
- "Recognize that it's a thought and thoughts are just thoughts. We often put a little bit too much weight on our thoughts, and that can create a lot of distress. But remember that thoughts are not facts."
- "Having a thought that's disturbing or upsetting doesn't make you a bad person, and it doesn't mean that you are suffering from a mental illness."
- "Sometimes the best thing you can do is say, 'Huh, that was an interesting thought. I'm going to let that go. That thought is not helpful for me right now."
- "Ask yourself: is this helpful? Is it helpful for me to buy into this thought and believe this thought? Asking that question can be really helpful because we are not at the mercy of our thoughts. If it's not helpful, you can let it go."
Intrusive thoughts can feel bizarre and foreign when they come up, but they aren't inherently "bad." Our minds can sometimes be filled with random and inappropriate thoughts, but that's what our stream of consciousness does: it thinks. Fortunately, we can release those thoughts at any moment; you don't have to follow through with them.
And ultimately, not every TikTok diagnosis is one that we should label ourselves with.
"It's important for people to acknowledge what they're experiencing but not run too quickly to diagnose themselves with some mental illness or disorder," Dr. Gooden advises. "It ends with confusion, and we miss the opportunity to understand the people who really do have that mental health challenge."
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