Can Jelly Make Your Nails Stronger And More Beautiful? The Jello Question

Is it just me? Who else is there, who remembers being told as a child that, for long, strong, beautiful fingernails, I just needed to consume a couple of squares of jello (or jelly for my fellow UK residents) every day? I’ve tended to assume that this is just one of those childhood myths that get spread around and passed on from cohort to cohort. But is there really any truth in it? (Painting fingernails with dissolved powdered jello has even been recommended as a means to strengthen them!)1

Certainly if there was any truth in the rumour I might be tempted to give it a try. I’ve always had terrible nails: hangnail-ridden, brittle as paper, flaky and with many-layered untidy cuticles. And wonky, unevenly shaped, too. (Although I don’t think that jello could do much about that.) But when I think about it, there isn't much that I wouldn't give for truly beautiful nails.

Beautiful Nails, Perfect Manicure

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The Protein Tip: What Nutrients Are In Jello?

So, is there any truth in the ever popular ‘jello is good for your nails’ theory? Way back when, I was always told that a) nails are made out of a protein called keratin, b) jello is full of protein in the form of gelatin, and therefore c) jello is very good for your nails and will make them grow long and strong. So, is it true? Can jello solve your fingernail-growing problems: hangnails, brittle nails, flaky nails, weak nails?

Can Vitamins Improve Your Nails?

What nutrients do nails really need? Is protein the main essential? Sadly, according to William Bennett and Stephen Goldfinger,2 there are no special superfoods which will improve the appearance and beauty of your nails. (That’s unless you have been poorly nourished and resuming a healthy diet will improve your nutrient profile.) Not that this advice will stop most of us from tinkering with our diets and worrying about nutrients in an attempt to improve our fingernail health and beauty!

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Jello and Nutrition

The crucial question: can jello provide nail-friendly nutrients? Not according to Paul Insel et al, authors of Discovering Nutrition.3 They advise that, although the gelatin in jello does contain protein, unfortunately it’s protein with the wrong amino acids for efficient nail-building. You need amino-acids which contain sulphur to build strong, beautiful nails, they say. (Sulphur containing amino acids are e.g. cysteine and methionine).

So which foods are the right ones to consume for excellent nutrition for beautiful nails? Foods which contain high levels of sulfur-containing amino acids include wholegrains and also meat products (sorry, vegetarians!)

I guess it was always going to be too good to be true: hey, kids, just eat two cubes of jello, it tastes like candy and you’ll have beautiful nails! Instead, it looks like a healthy, sensible diet is the order of the day. Sigh… Why does it always come down to that? Heck!


References:

1. Green, J. "Joey Green's amazing kitchen cures: 1,150 ways to prevent and cure common ailments with brand-name products." USA: Rodale Pr, 2002.

2. Bennett, W., Goldfinger, S.E. "Your good health: how to stay well, and what to do when you're not." USA: Harvard University Press, 1987.

3. Insel, P., Turner, R.E., Ross, D. "Discovering Nutrition." Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Publishers, LLC, 2010.

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