Dr Libby: Brittle Nails Or Thinning Hair? Now’s The Time To Listen To Your Body

By Dr Libby Weaver
You don’t want to ignore what might be going on internally. Photo / Babiche Martens

In this special series, guest writer Dr Libby Weaver shares her health insights.

Right now, we can get fake everything — nails, hair, lashes and eyebrows, just to name a few. These can lift our spirits, help our self-esteem and support our confidence — all wonderful things.

By all means

You don’t want to ignore what might be going on internally to drive these changes as this can lead to far more significant health issues down the track. Our beauty bits offer us insight into what’s going on inside.

The thing about cells

Every cell of your body — and there are about 50 trillion of them — not just skin cells on the outside, contributes to how you look and feel every minute of every day. And those cells need both nutrients and efficient waste-removal systems for you to feel and look your best. The biochemical pathways of your body also need to work efficiently and, to do this, nutrients are required.

So, what is a biochemical reaction? It is where one substance is converted into another substance. That is one reaction. Then that new substance will be converted into something else in another reaction. Every second, there are billions of biochemical reactions occurring inside you. Doesn’t that blow your mind?

For each reaction, a nutrient or a number of nutrients are required. That means, if we become nutritionally deficient, the efficiency of our body to change one substance into something else can become compromised. As a result, we can suffer on the inside (think bloated tummy) or on the outside (think congested skin).

To ensure that the biochemistry of our inner world is giving us what we want on the outside — great energy and clear skin jump to mind for many — we need to ensure that we are providing ourselves with the nutrients needed for these reactions and to nourish every cell. When your body has all the nutrients it needs to fuel the billions of biochemical processes that keep us alive and healthy every day, this will show up in how we shine on the outside.

Yet if we are not consuming the amount of nutrients we need, if we are constantly churning out stress hormones (or perhaps, as is so common today, both), or if other body systems are not functioning efficiently, our external beauty bits tend to suffer.

The priority list

Your magnificent body is hardwired to put your survival at the top of its priority list. This means that every process happening inside you that contributes to you staying alive gets priority over your beauty bits. It’s far more important, for example, that your zinc plays its crucial role in detoxifying alcohol so it can be eliminated, rather than building strong nails, or that your iron levels support oxygen transportation so you can stay alive, rather than being used to make your locks more luscious.

Without great quality food full of nutrients and antioxidants, as well as hydration, our digestion, liver, thyroid and kidney function, plus our sex hormone balance, can all become compromised. As a result, the skin and other beauty bits can suffer, creating frustration and sadness for you in the process.

Your beauty bits can also be compromised when stress hormones are being churned out. When this happens, non-vital processes, like strong nails, are not deemed as important because your body believes that something is literally threatening your survival.

Weak, brittle, spoon-shaped or nails that don’t grow can reflect numerous interior processes, including nutritional status, protein metabolism and bone health. Thinning hair on the head can be a reflection of a nutritional deficiency, poor thyroid function, insulin resistance and/or androgen excess. If we lose the outer third of our eyebrow hair, it’s a classic sign that our iron levels are through the floor and/or that our thyroid needs support.

Left untreated, these inner issues can have far more significant consequences down the track. So if you mask changes you don’t like with the fake option — enjoy being able to do this, of course — be sure to also address what’s driving the changes.


When it comes to our skin, most people will focus on topical creams and expensive serums thinking this is what will treat or prevent blemishes and signs of ageing. When you see someone (in real life, not via filters) with a glowing complexion, it springs from much deeper within them than some type of clever highlighter they’ve applied or the primer they put on that morning.

Skin that truly glows is cultivated from a vast array of physical and emotional processes inside you, including the nutrients you supply your body with, your sex hormone balance and liver function, as well as how lit up you feel about your life. We do absorb what we put on our skin so topical vitamins and nutrients can contribute to clearer and brighter skin.

Yet no cream will ever be as effective as the choices you make to nourish and improve your internal health. It is also important to be mindful of the ingredients of your skincare as many contain potentially problematic substances that can add to your detoxification load.

Instead of letting the quality of your skin, hair or nails frustrate or sadden you, see these things as signs that your body is offering you, letting you know that something on the inside needs your attention. Your body might be asking you to eat, drink, move, think, sleep, breathe, believe or perceive in a different way.

Amping up your nourishment to ensure you’re getting at least five (if not seven) serves of vegetables a day (one serve equates to about half a cup) is always a great place to start. Keep your intake of potentially problematic substances and poor quality foods — things such as alcohol, refined and artificial sugars, deep fried foods and highly processed foods — to a minimum and ensure that water is your main drink.

Remember, too, that ageing is supposed to happen. We cannot escape or deny it. Do your best to nourish yourself from the inside out and embrace the grace and wisdom of ageing.

The more uplifting meanings you attribute to the changes you notice in your body, the more peace you will have, beauty you will radiate and the more fuel you will have to take care of yourself and those you love.

Dr Libby Weaver. Photo / Supplied
Dr Libby Weaver. Photo / Supplied

Dr Libby Weaver PhD is a nutritional biochemist, best-selling author and international keynote speaker. To learn more about how to support your body from within, join the Detox by Dr Libby programme at Drlibby.com

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