Finger nails were known to play an important role in diagnosing health problems in the ancient days before modern medicine made its appearance. Physicians of yore used to examine the nails of a patient as part of their physicals to pinpoint underlying diseases.

Today such practices are pretty much obsolete even among the practitioners of traditional systems of medicine. Most of them go for modern diagnostic methods to spot diseases.

Fingernails are just another type of skin. The nails protect the nerve-rich fingertips and tips of the toes from injury. Nails are a substructure of the outer layer of the skin and are composed mainly of keratin, a type of protein.

Nails grow at the rate of about 0.05 to 1.2 millimetres per week. The nail bed is the skin on the top of which the nail grows. Healthy nail beds are pink to dark pink, which show a rich blood supply.

Fair skinned people have pinkish nails, while other people have brown or black ones. Whatever may their colour, the nails can reveal a lot about the body's internal health. Healthy nails are often a sign of good health, while bad nails are often a tip off to more serious problems. A high protein diet can help your nails grow stronger and healthier.

Our nails, being one of the continuously rejuvenating tissues of the body can be the predictors of several problems affecting health and improper nutrition well before they manifest as apparent diseases. We present a list of disorders that can be diagnosed from the nails:

1) White spots: White spots on the nails can be a sign of a zinc deficiency

2) Brittle nails: If you find your nails appear too brittle, they suggest iron deficiency. Brittle nails can also signify possible thyroid problems, impaired kidney function and problems with blood circulation

3) Yellow nails: Yellow coloured nails can be indicative of some internal disorders long before other symptoms appear. It may suggest problems with the liver, lymphatic system, respiratory disorders and diabetes

4) Nails that chip, peel, crack: Easily breaking nails show a nutritional deficiency and insufficient hydrochloric acid and protein. Cracking, chipping nails could also be suggestive of minerals deficiency