Between the esophagus and the stomach is a one-way muscular valve that, when functioning normally, allows food to enter the stomach. At the same time, this valve prevents any partially digested food or stomach acid from going back up into the esophagus. It’s when this valve is not functioning properly that we often experience a burning sensation in our lower abdomen – a condition known as heartburn. Heartburn results when stomach acid enters the esophagus because the valve either stays open or doesn’t close tight enough after your chewed food enters the stomach.
Overeating, stress, lack of sleep, smoking, eating fatty foods, and excess pressure on the stomach (from excess belly fat, constipation, or pregnancy) can all contribute to heartburn symptoms. Often times, the symptom of heartburn is treated with over-the-counter and prescription acid suppression drugs.
Unfortunately, the long-term use of acid suppression drugs to treat chronic heartburn has been linked to Vitamin B12 deficiencies. In addition, suppressing the acid only treats the symptom rather than the cause. While you (and your doctor) are identifying the cause of your heartburn and coming up with a drug-free solution, you can try eating foods that help control stomach acid and alleviate the burning sensation. These foods include: such as fresh ginger, aloe vera, bananas, lean meats such as poultry and fish, and green vegetables.