We’ve all been there. Sitting in a dead silent classroom, focusing on the exam, when suddenly you hear this loud and unsettling roar coming from your stomach. Really? You do this now? I think to myself. Though I’ve always despised bodily noises in general, they’re natural and a commonality in all of us. But what makes our stomachs growl? That’s what I’m here to investigate today.
What I found
To my surprise, there were a lot of articles and/or professionals reporting on this matter, so I’m glad I’m not the only one hung up on stomach growls (though I’m sure I could utilize my time for more important matters)! Also, to my surprise, just because your stomach is growling does not necessarily mean it’s seeking food. Let’s dig a little deeper.
How your systems works
Mark A. W. Andrews, a professor of physiology at Lake Eerie College, breaks it down for us: Basically, the rumbling stems from interactions between the stomach and small intestines as they break down and process a mix of food, gas, and liquid, this concept is known as “borborygmi”. These interactions go on constantly, they just tend to be more noticeable once there is a lack of food. The muscle cells in the stomach and small intestines actually work in a small rhythm, 3 and 12 times per minute, to be exact.
So why is my stomach making noise?
According to Sonia Gulati, the interrupting growls can stem from numerous reasons, not just hunger. For instance, being as your digestive system is working 24/7, most of the time it is still digesting from your previous meal(s). Muscle contractions called peristalsis move the food along, turning everything into what’s called chyme. However, the grumbling doesn’t just come from digestion; by merely breathing, gas gets into our system and is also a contributor. Another factor could be incomplete digestion, meaning foods like lactose, gluten, etc., may not be able to be digested properly, leading to an influx of noise in your tummy. Lastly, the obvious, hunger. Basically, hormones in your body tell your brain, “hey, it’s lunch time!”, which releases gastric juices and muscle contractions in the stomach. This is often the loudest roar because your stomach is empty, so the grumbles echo and cause the classroom disruption.
Is there anything I can do?
Dr. Michael Kessler released an article noting the tips and tricks of avoid overactive stomach rumbles. He suggest drinking more water and eating a healthier diet. Diet can have a huge influence on your digestive system. He suggest eating meals with more fiber, and eating smaller meals more frequently, so your tummy is constantly full and busy digesting. Also, he advises to get a good night’s sleep – who knew sleep could even play a factor in your digestive system?! He suggests other remedies like physical activity, stress management, and good hygiene. So, though they won’t “cure” your stomach growling, it may assuage the discomfort for the time being.
To sum it up, you’re stuck with your overactive stomach growls for life, sorry about that. However, now you know that just because your stomach is growling, doesn’t mean you’re hungry! You can also give Dr. Kessler’s tips a try to try and limit the embarrassing moments in a quiet classroom. If I had to offer a piece of my own advice, I’d say keep a couple of small snacks on you at all times! I have a stash of granola bars at the bottom of my bag at all times in case of hunger emergencies (like in class).
“Why Does Your Stomach Growl When You Are Hungry …” Scientific American. N.p., 21 Jan. 2002. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
Gulati, Sonia. “Borborygmi: What Causes Those Stomach Noises?” Symptonfind. N.p., 27 June 2014. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.
Kessler, Michael. “8 Natural Remedies for Stomach Gurgling.” Doctors Health Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2016.