May 31

What Does Your Stomach Growling Mean?


by Rob Baker

If your stomach growls a lot, your body is trying to tell you something. What is causing those noises? Believe it or not, stomach growling rarely has anything to do with hunger — or with your stomach for that matter. The real culprit may surprise you.

1. Do You Usually Eat Too Fast?

Growling noises actually come from your intestines. It’s like what happens when you squeeze air from a balloon. As the digestive muscles move food through your gut, it causes growling, gurgling or roaring sounds.

This effect is louder when you have gas. And that's where eating on the go can get you in trouble.

People who eat too fast tend to swallow a lot of air with their food. Plus, when food hasn’t been chewed properly, it’s harder for the gut to digest. This can trigger lots of gas and — you guessed it — loud stomach growling.

Fortunately, the solution is easy: Take your time. Savor every bite. Talk in between bites, not while you're chewing.

2. Do You Get Nervous?

By now, you’ve probably noticed that stress can have strange effects on your digestive system. That's where “butterflies in the stomach” come from. Anxiety can make you have to run to the bathroom. If you're really nervous before a date or an important presentation, your stomach may growl.

To avoid this, grab some protein to give your stomach something to do. A handful of almonds works great because chewing also alleviates stress.

3. Did You Skip Breakfast?

Sometimes, stomach growling really is caused by hunger. When your blood sugar drops, the intestines start to work faster to let you know it’s time to eat. Worse, an empty stomach makes those growling sounds echo loudly.

You can tell the difference when real hunger is the reason. You feel weak and tired. It's smart to get into the habit of eating nutritious meals throughout the day, including breakfast!

4. Does Your Brain Think You’re Hungry?

“How can I be hungry if I just ate an hour ago?” you’re thinking. Sometimes, the reason your stomach is growling has to do with a brain chemical called ghrelin, the hunger hormone.

When you haven’t slept well, you’re thirsty or you’re stressed, ghrelin tricks your brain into thinking it needs food. You start to crave sugary and salty snacks. 

To beat the munchies, remember to drink plenty of water. Set aside “you” time to rest and relax.

5. Does Your Gut Have Trouble Digesting Certain Foods?

Too much gas in your gut may mean that your intestines are having a hard time digesting what you eat. Basically, any foods that give you problems with bloating are also going to cause gurgling or growling sounds. Sweeteners such as sorbitol and fructose are common triggers. Beans, broccoli, cabbage and gluten can also cause gas and stomach growling.

Ironically, some of the foods needed for good digestion may be causing the extra gas. For example, yogurt contains essential probiotics: good bacteria that help your gut absorb nutrients. But many people have trouble digesting dairy. A great alternative is to take a probiotic supplement instead.

Checking how well your gut is working is good for your entire body. The better you can digest what you eat, the more nutrients you get from food. You feel happier and lighter without bloating. And no more embarrassing stomach growling!


Digestion, Meals, Stomach

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