Why does my stomach growl when I’m hungry and can I make the embarrassing rumblings stop?

Everyone has experienced it – you’re in a meeting and your stomach won’t stop (loudly) reminding you that you’ve skipped lunch. 

You feel embarrassed as loud rumblings interrupt your presentation, but experts say it’s nothing to be ashamed of – and the noises are out of your control. 

The perfectly normal physiological process is known as borborygmi and is the result of contractions of muscles in the stomach and intestines.

These help move food along the digestive tract, Dr Donna Powell, a gastroenterologist, said. 

However, when the tract is empty because you haven’t eaten, the normal contractions generate noise as they move air and fluids through the stomach and intestines. 

If your stomach seems to be consistently growling before you feel ready for another meal, you may need to eat less but do so more often, instead of the traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner

Dr Powell told Prevention: ‘Stomach growling is a normal physiological process. It happens to everyone and is simply a sign that your digestive system is normal.’

It is also ‘beyond our control,’ she added.

Food is constantly being moved along through the body, and if your stomach and intestines are void of contents, you’re more likely to hear digestive noises because there is no food to muffle the sound.

And while there may not be food to move, hunger is thought to cause the secretion of hormones that trigger the contractions regardless.

But what happens if you’re somewhere you can’t easily eat a meal – is there any way to ease the noisy symptoms of an empty stomach?

Experts say drinking water may be enough to temporarily muffle the rumbles. 

Eating your meals slower may also help because it will slow down digestion, keeping you fuller longer, which should keep growling at bay. 

If your stomach seems to be consistently growling before you feel ready for another meal, you may need to eat less, but do so more often. 

Swapping three larger meals for four to six smaller ones can improve digestion and prevent growls, as well as improve metabolism and keep you more satisfied – which will prevent the cries of hunger. 

If your stomach is still speaking up even after you’ve satisfied your appetite, Dr Powell said it could be a sign your digestive system has sprung into action to move along your most recent meal.

However, it can also be because of excessive gas, indigestion, diarrhea or a chronic gastrointestinal condition such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

To avoid the awkward sounds, Dr Powell said it is important to keep your stomach satisfied by eating regularly and not skipping meals.

Avoiding carbonated beverages and staying away from gas-producing foods like broccoli, cabbage and beans can also help reduce any post-meal growling. 

You should also discuss any lingering or painful abdominal rumblings with your doctor. 

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