Nail fungus is not just a cosmetic issue.
Most of the time our system keeps moulds in check but when we see a yellowing or thickening nail, we know this fungus is out of control.
The nail looks bad but there are other problems people often prefer not to talk about.
Take the smell for example. Feet with a fungal infection – nail fungus or athlete’s foot – can give off an unpleasant smell. You might not notice until you trim your nails. Then you’ll likely feel embarrassed by the odour.
The nail may thicken until it lifts right off your toe. That leaves your toe unprotected – because we have nails for a purpose.
Some people find the fungus shows up in other ways in other parts of their body. Itchy scalp, dandruff, itchiness after sport, general tiredness and feeling under the weather.
We all know moulds love to spread. And nail fungus does too. You might ask “So if I can see the fungus is causing itching far from my toenail, does that mean it’s run right through my body?”
Yes, it does.
We call this fungal overgrowth. And it harms you.
When a fungus spreads your body is in a constant fight to eliminate this toxin.
And that makes you feel lacking in energy for other mental and physical tasks.
Life no longer seems so much fun, your ambition may start to disappear and things that you used to look forward to - playing with your grandchildren, hiking and cycling, or inviting friends round for supper - just seem too much trouble.
But fungal overgrowth left untreated can infect the blood and seriously affect your health.
Some people have experienced terrible pain and even problems with their limbs so bad that only removing the limb can help.
The best thing to do is make sure that you treat that one yellow nail as fast as possible to stop the potential spread of the infection.
Certainly talk to your doctor about what to do.
But the doctor will probably prescribe a spray or ointment to apply to the surface of the nail. Just be aware that less than 20% of the time this method cures the problem completely.
And know that you will need to apply that cream for many months.
Anything you apply to your body day after day for a long time will have consequences – not always all good. Side effects of some creams include liver damage and even hair loss.
A faster way to treat the problem is having professional laser treatment. This has a higher success rate but it’s very pricey.
Finally there are lots of home remedies including tea tree oil – a drop on a Q-tip spread over your nail every day – seems to be the most popular.
Soaking your feet in a solution of bicarbonate of soda is also a favourite.
Iodine – a drop on a Q-tip spread over the nail once a day – is worth trying too.
The problem is that these remedies haven’t been tested rigourously enough to say if they really work.
If you’ve ever examined your nail you’ll know that the fungus is spreading under the nail. So anything spread on the top surface will take a long time to work, whatever you choose.
We know that most of us catch the fungus from wearing tight shoes.
Most moulds love the dark.
Most moulds love dampness.
If those shoes are sports shoes and get sweaty that makes a perfect breeding ground for the fungus as it waits for a foot to enter.
If we walk in warm damp areas where other people with fungus have walked then we are more likely to get infected. Think swimming pool changing areas.
So keeping our feet very clean, always drying them carefully, wearing protective sandals in damp public areas and washing socks, tights and sneakers regularly will all help avoid us catching this infection.
But none of that explains why in some societies where working in damp conditions is a daily chore the population isn’t overwhelmed by nail fungus.
Think of women working in the paddy fields.
So there must be another reason some of us suffer while others simply never do.
Watch the video to understand the latest research findings on how to rid your body of fungus.
Like so many chronic problems, the answer lies in your gut.
You may not be eating two key nutrients that are needed to stop the fungus taking hold on your system.
Or you may, unknowingly, be actually feeding the fungus the very nutrients it loves.
I think this video will change the way you think about that yellow toenail.
Medical understanding of how diet and the gut affect our health far beyong stomach complaints, is showing how some people might be making life easy for fungus to colonize them.
Fungus needs carbohydrate to live.
You may be unwittingly feeding fungus every day just by over-eating carbs.
If you love to snack but never find the time to cook a balanced meal, it’s likely that you are eating too many carbs including sugars.
But we all know how difficult it is to change the way we eat. We start off with great intentions to cut out sugar but our body craves it and before we know it we are back snacking on candies, cakes and sodas.
As our understanding of how nutrients in food work to keep us healthy, laboratories have been working on producing nutritional supplements. These add-ons to your normal diet can help rebalance your gut so that it does the full job it was designed to do. That means it keeps you mentally and physically in good shape.
There are now supplements on the market which put together an array of natural substances which have fungus-fighting properties. Here's one that targets nail and skin fungus based on medical research at Yale.
Please be aware that I am not a doctor! It is always advisable to talk to a medical professional before taking supplements or making changes to your usual diet.
It will take time to regrow a nice new pink nail as your system and microbiome - the microbes in your gut – adapt. But I think it’s the right way to go.
Of course, try to cut down on sugars and carbohydrates. But be realistic. This supplement can give you a helping hand on a daily basis so that even if you find it impossible to stick to your best resolutions, you can be sure that you are still making progress. Your gut is rebalancing and working on the fungus.
Basically you are reinforcing your body’s natural ability to fight fungus throughout your whole body. You aren't trying to kill the fungus just whenever you notice it.
My belief – again let me say I am not a medic – is that rebalancing the gut should be the first thing to do.
Then keeping footwear and feet clean, fresh and dry should be seen as the essential second step.
As we know fungus hates the light, I suggest you walk bare-foot anywhere safe and sunny as often as possible.Give this regime time to work then select, if needed, another layer of protection by using a paint-on solution from your store cupboard or your pharmacy.
Think about how and why people develop fungal overgrowth? Then think about how many seniors live.
I’m a senior and I know I love a sugary cake in the afternoon. I know I sometimes feel cold quickly and pad around my home in comfy slippers or thick socks. And how often do I think of washing and air-drying my sneakers in the sunshine – after all I’m not a sportsperson!
But beyond all this we have to acknowledge that as we get older our bodily systems, and that includes our various immune systems, simply are no longer as efficient as when we were younger.
Nail fungus can be embarrassing and stop you doing the things you want such as walking barefoot on the beach with a friend or going swimming or even going for a pedicure. Add to that the tiredness you’re feeling and, even if you’re lucky and the fungus doesn’t get into the bloodstream, fungus harms your quality of life.
So don’t ignore that yellow toenail.
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