What To Eat Now: foods to cure a mouth ulcer

What to Eat Now: foods to cure a mouth ulcer
Credit: Rex Features

We can all get mouth ulcers (or stomatis, to give them their proper name) from time to time, and the discomfort they cause can range from slightly irritating to downright painful.

Mouth ulcers usually only last a few days, but if you get them often and they seem to last, there may be a nutritional link. There is some evidence to suggest that frequent or severe mouth ulcers are a potential sign of coeliac disease. If you find that you are getting mouth ulcers all the time, a visit to your health practitioner would be advisable.

Although it may be tempting to avoid gluten just to see what happens, do bear in mind that as mouth ulcers don't last long, they are likely to clear up by themselves. If you avoid gluten - or any food - and they clear up, this is likely to be a coincidence. In other words, while it is possible to have a gluten intolerance, it’s always best to have this medically diagnosed before undertaking a potentially difficult diet plan (obviously).

Mouth ulcers can also suggest mild anaemia (by no means the only symptom), which again merits appropriate medical advice. In the meantime, I suggest eating plenty of food rich in B vitamins, especially wholegrains, unsweetened cereals and wholemeal breads. The B vitamins include folic acid, which is involved in the repair of cells in addition to the formation of red blood cells, and thus can help alleviate some forms of anaemia too. Green vegetables, endive and peas are all rich in folic acid, but you may consider supplementing a good quality B complex as well. Do be warned that your urine is likely to become a lurid yellow colour for an hour or so after taking a B complex - this is entirely normal and is merely the excretion of excess B2, or riboflavin.

Low levels of vitamin C could be implicated, as this too is required to strengthen cells - so think sweet potatoes, peppers, kale and kiwi fruit daily. Although citrus is rich in vitamin C it can sting when eating so you might avoid orange, lemons and limes (even in juice form) until the ulcer recedes.

Swishing warm salt water around your mouth, ignoring the initial stinging, can ease localised inflammation. I am also told that coconut water can have a similar effect although the nutritional link is unclear.

Finally, you may need to change toothpaste as some brands contain sodium lauryl sulphate, or SLS, a surfactant that is used in many personal hygiene products as a foaming agent. SLS can contribute to the formation of mouth ulcers - so check the ingredient label and switch if necessary.