Like most people, you have probably had a canker sore somewhere in your mouth, most likely more than once. These are small round, whitish ulcers on the inside of cheeks, lips, tongue and gums and sometimes they seem to last forever. Some people are continually plagued by recurring canker sores, but there is something you may be able to do about it. Decreasing or eliminating your intake of sugar and sodas may go a long way in reducing or even eliminating outbreaks.
Ingesting sugar raises your body’s acid level (meaning it increases the pH); anecdotal evidence suggests that the more acid in your mouth the more bacteria production you will have. This may contribute to the formation of mouth sores in some people. Sugar-filled gum, hard candies and lozenges are especially likely to cause issues. Likewise, the sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) and phosphoric acid in soda beverages such as coca cola and other soft drinks also promotes inflammation and raises the pH of your mouth and the rest of your body. Don’t think you are off the hook if you drink diet sodas with Aspartame or another artificial sugar. Remember that phosphoric acid can also eventually eat into tooth enamel.
Citrus and Citric Acid
Don’t confuse the phosphoric acid in soft drinks with citric acid, which is found in citrus fruits like lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruit. Citric acid can also contribute to canker sores in some people. You should especially avoid drinking citrus beverages such as orange juice or eating these fruits while you have a mouth sore, as it will only exasperate your condition and possibly delay the healing process. Ironically, while citrus may cause canker sores to burn, once your body has digested them they are actually alkalizing to your system.
Other Foods That May Cause Canker Sores
Sugar, soft drinks and citrus fruits are not the only potential culprits in canker sore outbreaks. Other problem foods include coffee, chocolate (sorry to break the bad news), alcohol, shellfish, vinegar, cheese, tomatoes, pineapple, nuts, strawberries and even wheat, barley and rye. The gluten in these grains can cause problems for people with gluten sensitivities or intolerance and in fact can be a major symptom of celiac disease. If you are prone to getting canker sores, you should also try to cut down on eating crunchy foods like potato and tortilla chips, crackers and toast, which can cause microscopic tears inside your mouth and possibly lead to an ulcer or else irritate one you already have.
Check Your pH Level
You can test your pH level using simple pH test strips that will measure how acidic or alkaline your tissues are. You can either measure your urine or saliva. Too much acid may lead to various health issues; you could have low energy, have a problem losing weight or suffer from digestive issues, heartburn, water retention, or develop a burning sensation on the tongue or in the mouth (hello canker sores).
Increasing Your Body’s Alkaline Level
A baking soda and water mouth rinse may help re-alkalize your mouth and return it to the proper pH. But don’t stop there. Canker sores can be a signal that your entire body is too acidic. If you are suffering from a pH imbalance, mother nature may be telling you that you need to make some changes to your diet. You may benefit from eating a diet that helps your body maintain the correct balance. Alkaline-forming foods include vegetables, especially leafy greens, and fruits. Foods such as processed junk food, meat, dairy and wheat tend to make the body’s system more acidic.