16 Foods and Eating Tips To Help Heal Your Canker Sore Fast
Even though they're temporary, canker sores can still make daily life difficult, especially eating and drinking.
Today we're bringing you a complete guide of foods to eat with canker sores, along with some eating tips that will help your canker sores heal faster!
What Is a Canker Sore?
A canker sore (also called an aphthous ulcer) is a superficial ulcer that develops inside the mouth and lips. These white, gray, or yellow ulcers usually measure between one and four millimeters in diameter. They may have a pink or bright red border.
Although they can be extremely painful, canker sores aren't dangerous. They also aren't caused by a virus, so they can't spread through kissing or other contact. Canker sores are very common, and many people deal with them several times per year.
A Quick Note About Foods To Avoid
Before we dive into what foods to eat with canker sores, let's discuss a few foods you shouldn't eat with canker sores.
No single food triggers canker sores in people across the board. But through a process of elimination, you can identify your own problem foods from this list of common culprits:
- Citrus fruits.
- Acidic fruits and vegetables.
- Spicy foods.
- Salty foods.
- Sharp, crunchy, or dense foods.
- Foods you're allergic to.
- Fizzy drinks.
Choose Foods With Key Vitamins and Minerals
Some canker sores are caused by a lack of specific nutrients in your diet. By choosing certain nutritious foods to eat, you can help heal and prevent canker sores.
1. Foods With Lysine
Lysine is a protein building block called an essential amino acid. Your body can't produce its own lysine, so you need to consume it through foods or supplements. Research shows that lysine:
- Supports the immune system.
- Helps the body absorb iron, calcium, and zinc.
- Encourages production of antibodies, enzymes, and hormones.
- Promotes collagen growth.
Lots of foods contain lysine, so you don't have to look far to find it. Try these lysine-rich foods:
- Chicken, turkey, pork, and beef.
- Fish like sardines and cod.
- Cheeses and yogurt.
2. Foods With Vitamin B12
Research suggests that taking a nightly dose of vitamin B12 can prevent canker sores from developing. It may also help speed the healing of existing canker sores. Foods high in B12 include lots of the same foods with high lysine content:
- Chicken, beef, and liver.
- Fish and shellfish.
- Milk, yogurt, and cheese.
3. Foods With Iron
Canker sores can be associated with low levels of iron in the blood. Iron-rich foods include:
- Beef or chicken liver.
- Red meat, pork, and poultry.
- Mussels, oysters, and sardines.
- Legumes like beans, lentils, and chickpeas.
- Dark, leafy greens like spinach.
- Pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
- Wheat germ and oatmeal.
4. Foods With Zinc
Zinc is a mineral known for helping boost the immune system. Some studies have shown that supplementing with zinc can promote wound healing and help reduce recurrent canker sores. Some zinc-rich foods include:
- Red meat.
Eating soft foods during a canker sore outbreak can help make sure you get the nutrition you need while avoiding further injury to the painful sore.
This tasty breakfast food is mushy, so you won't have to risk irritating or biting your canker sore. Include a bit of milk, honey, fruit, and cinnamon to add flavor. Oats also include a healthy dose of zinc and iron for canker sore prevention!
Soup can be creamy or chunky, warm or cold, light or heavy. When you have a canker sore, though, we recommend that you avoid soups with too much spice or bulk. Once those irritants are eliminated, soup is a great way to soothe inflamed oral tissues while still nourishing your body. Think well-cooked vegetables, soft potatoes, or noodles with nourishing broth.
Smoothies have so much variety. You can add plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as yogurt, to provide a smooth, easy-to-eat meal that doesn't require any chewing. However, forego any ingredients from the irritant list, such as citrus fruits.
8. Protein Shakes
Protein is essential to the healing process. And just like with smoothies, you can sneak a variety of fruits and vegetables into a protein shake. Again, just remember to avoid any irritants!
9. Nut Butters
Nut butters are great sources of protein, along with many essential nutrients as well. Nut butters can be added to smoothies and protein shakes for a little extra flavor, and can also be a great snack on a spoon or a soft sandwich.
Tips for Eating With Canker Sores
Your canker sores aren't just affected by the foods you eat, but also by how you eat them. Here are a few eating tips to help avoid irritating your canker sores.
10. Slightly Overcook Your Food
No one wants to eat soggy broccoli or noodles. But if you have a canker sore that's really bothering you, consider slightly overcooking your food to soften it more. You can also opt for softer versions of foods you enjoy: mashed potatoes instead of baked, boiled carrots instead of raw.
11. Chew More Mindfully
In our constantly rushed culture, it's easy to find ourselves in a hurry to do everything, including eat. Instead, set aside time to eat with mindfulness, paying attention to every bite. This will help you avoid biting your already painful canker sore.
12. Take Smaller Bites
While you practice more mindful chewing, cut your food into smaller pieces. When you take smaller bites, you're less apt to accidentally chew on your lip or cheek.
13. Eat Smaller, More Regular Meals
Eating mindfully and taking smaller bites can mean meals take extra time. Try preparing smaller, more regular meals throughout the day to keep yourself from feeling rushed when eating and to give your canker sore a break in between.
14. Stay Hydrated
When you have oral pain, sometimes drinking can be painful, especially if you're used to reaching for acidic beverages like soda or orange juice. Instead, switch to non-acidic drinks and cool liquids that can soothe your canker sore. You can also try snacking on water-rich fruits and vegetables like watermelon and cucumber to stay hydrated.
15. Don't Smoke
Smoking is very irritating to the delicate tissues in the mouth. It also decreases blood flow, prolonging canker sore healing time. Avoid smoking by using an alternative nicotine-replacement method like a nicotine patch.
16. Avoid Chewing Gum
Many people who experience canker sores chew gum frequently. Chewing gum can irritate the mucous membranes in your mouth, causing and exacerbating canker sores.
If you chew gum to relieve stress, try to chew it less often. Consider other stress management techniques, such as squeezing a stress ball, to give your mouth a break. If you chew gum to help quit smoking, consider switching to a patch.
Other Treatments for Canker Sores
Over-the-counter canker sore treatment options abound. You can find canker sore topical treatments like liquids, gels, and ointments online and at your local pharmacy. Many options are available, but a few of your top choices include Orajel, Zilactin-B Mouth Sore Gel, and Hyland's Canker Sore Healing Dots.
In addition to over-the-counter medications, light therapy is another nonprescription option to treat your canker sores. The Luminance RED Mouth Sore Treatment Device is an FDA-registered light therapy device designed to manage canker sores. The Luminance RED is one of the only chemical-free treatment options for canker sores. Clinical studies show that light therapy is an effective way to reduce pain and healing time of canker sores.
By using these over-the-counter options in tandem with eating the right foods for canker sores, you can drastically reduce your pain and improve the healing of your irritating mouth ulcers.