Stomach growling, or borborygmi, is a normal phenomenon that anyone can experience. It is associated with hunger, slow or incomplete digestion, or the consumption of certain foods.
These growling and rumbling noises do not always emanate from the stomach, however, as they can also come from the small intestine further along the digestive tract.
This article looks at the causes of borborygmi and lists 10 ways to stop stomach growling.
Fast facts on stomach growling:
- Stomach growling occurs as food, liquid, and gas go through the stomach and small intestine.
- Stomach growling or rumbling is a normal part of digestion.
- There is nothing in the stomach to muffle these sounds so they can be noticeable.
- Among the causes are hunger, incomplete digestion, or indigestion.
There are reasons why stomach growling occurs, some of which are described here:
To help digestion
When food reaches the small intestine, the body releases enzymes to help break down the foods and to facilitate nutrient absorption. Peristalsis is a series of wave-like muscular contractions that take place to move the food along the digestive tract.
These activities, which involve the movement of gas and partially-digested foods, contribute to the growling and rumbling sounds of borborygmi.
To signal hunger
Even if no food has been consumed in the previous hours, the body will regularly undertake the process of peristalsis. The stomach and intestines will also release acid and enzymes to prepare for the ingestion of food.
The noises can persist for up to 20 minutes at a time and may recur every hour until food is consumed.
To indicate underlying issues
Issues that can cause stomach growling include:
- food allergies
- food intolerances
- gastrointestinal infections
- intestinal blockage
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
While stomach growling is a part of normal digestion, there are times when rumbling noises can be a source of embarrassment. Here are 10 natural remedies to stop stomach growling:
1. Drink water
Drinking a glass of water can be an effective solution to stomach growling, particularly if it is not possible to eat something at the time. Water aids the digestive process while also filling the stomach.
Both of these actions help to prevent stomach growling or muffle the sound of it, at least.
For best results, water should be sipped slowly throughout the day. Consuming large amounts in a short period can lead to gurgling sounds from the stomach.
2. Eat something
Once the stomach has been empty for a while, growling noises may signal that it is time to eat again. Eating a small meal or snack may temporarily quell the sounds. Having food in the stomach also lowers the volume of stomach growling.
If stomach growling happens regularly or occurs at the same time every day, it may be a sign that more regular meals are required. Some people may wish to eat 4 to 6 small meals a day, instead of the standard 3 large meals, to prevent hunger and stomach noises.
3. Chew slowly
Digestion begins in the mouth, through the physical act of chewing food. Stomach growling that is linked to indigestion may be prevented by more thoroughly chewing food and eating more slowly.
Chewing food properly also reduces the amount of air that is swallowed, which prevents gas and digestive distress.
4. Limit sugar, alcohol, and acidic foods
Alcohol, sugary foods, and acidic foods can all trigger stomach sounds. Sugars, such as fructose and sorbitol, are especially problematic. Acidic foods, including citrus fruits and coffee, are also known to cause stomach growling.
Alcohol irritates the digestive tract and can cause stomach noises. It also increases acid production and causes inflammation in the lining of the stomach. High doses of alcohol can delay gastric emptying and cause stomach pain.
5. Avoid food and drink that cause gas
Certain food and drink produce more gas than others. If stomach growling is caused by large amounts of gas moving through the digestive tract, then avoiding these foods and drinks may solve the problem of borborygmi.
Gas-producing food and drink include:
- Brussels sprouts
- whole grains
It may be beneficial to remove one food or drink at a time to pinpoint the source of the excess gas and intestinal noises.
6. Discover food intolerances
Intolerance to certain foods can increase gas and stomach growling.
For example, lactose intolerance is caused by a deficiency of lactase, the enzyme that helps to digest lactose. Approximately 65 percent all people have difficulty digesting lactose, although the prevalence varies widely among ethnic and racial populations.
The best way to manage a food intolerance is to avoid the foods that cause symptoms. People with chronic stomach growling should discuss the possibility of a food intolerance with their doctor.
7. Practice portion control
Stomach growling and other noises may become more noticeable after eating big meals, particularly meals rich in fats, sugars, red meats, and other foods that may be hard to digest.
Eating smaller portions at more regular intervals, along with thoroughly chewing food during meals, reduces the risk of overeating.
8. Stay active
Going for a walk after meals has been proven to aid the digestive process by speeding up the rate at which the stomach empties. This faster emptying can reduce stomach rumbling.
A post-meal walk can also benefit digestion in other ways. Research indicates that a 20-minute walk 15 minutes after eating lowers blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. However, high-intensity activities should be avoided immediately after eating.
9. Stay calm
Stomach growling can be more apparent during certain stressful situations, such as job interviews, presentations, and tests. This is because gut activity increases during periods of anxiety, regardless of whether the stomach is full or empty.
Being stressed is also known to slow down digestion and contribute to symptoms of indigestion, including heartburn and stomach noises.
People can reduce levels of anxiety and stress by meditating, practicing deep breathing exercises, and using progressive muscle relaxation techniques.
10. Address gastrointestinal issues
More serious underlying disease processes, such as infection or intestinal blockage, are possible causes of borborygmi. Hence, if stomach rumbling is bothersome and associated with others signs or symptoms, it is important to see a doctor for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.
IBS can also frequently be at the root of stomach growling and addressing this underlying condition may be the only way to reduce these sounds.
Though normal, stomach growling can be tempered by taking certain steps that include eating regularly, avoiding problematic foods, and managing anxiety.
It is important to see a doctor if stomach growling is a regular occurrence, especially if accompanied by other symptoms, as this can be a sign of a gastrointestinal infection or a more serious condition.