Why Does Your Stomach Growl?

(Last Updated On: July 16, 2019)

Why Does Your Stomach Growl?

If you’ve ever been hungry or maybe a little sick, you’ve probably felt your stomach do a little rumbling. Actually, if you’re human and have ever eaten food, you’ve probably felt this. It can be inconvenient, and sometimes can induce stomach aches/cramps. And if your stomach growls loud enough, it can even be a little embarrassing. But even as an everyday thing, have you ever stopped to ask why this happens? Why does your stomach growl in the first place?

Before we get into the thick of it though, let’s briefly mention some of the alternative names for stomach growling. There’s the scientific name–borborygmus–which is pretty fun to say. Sometimes, this noise is described as bowel or peristaltic sound. Then of course, there is the more colloquial “stomach rumble”. You, however, might have your very own name for it. Bubble gut, anyone?

Why Does your Stomach Growl?

Generally speaking, the tummy rumbling you hear is caused by the movement of food, liquids, digestive justices, and air through your intestines.

How Do Your Intestines Process Food?

One of the most common times for your stomach to growl is during and after you eat. As you eat, the walls of your gastrointestinal tract contract to mix and squeeze food through your intestines. This series of movements is called peristalsis, and it is this process that generally causes the rumbling you hear in your tummy. Peristalsis not only takes place during eating, but can continue for several hours after eating.

Does Your Stomach Really Growl When You’re Hungry?

The short answer: yes, your stomach will growl when you’re hungry.

When you get hungry, your brain gets an urge to eat, and will send signals to your intestines and stomach. Your digestives muscles begin to contract and squeeze, but since your stomach is empty, the process pushes the air in your stomach around and you get rumbles. If your stomach is empty and you’re not filling it, it’s going to keep vibrating to move food that isn’t there. At this point, you should probably eat something.

Why Do Some Foods Make Stomachs Growl?

We’ve already established that your stomach growls in part because of gas in the digestive tract. And it is true that some foods are better at producing stomach gas than others. You probably know what some of those foods are:

  • Beans
  • Some fruits
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Grains

Eating too quickly, drinking through a straw, or chewing gum are also ways to get excess air in your stomach.

And of course, while stomach sounds are completely normal and typically not a cause of concern, it’s always important to monitor your body and talk to a doctor if the sounds are unusual or accompanied with other more severe symptoms.

Think you can name these cartoon characters from just an image of their stomach? Test yourself to see how you do!

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About the Author:

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Kyler is a content writer at Sporcle living in Seattle, and is currently studying at the University of Washington School of Law. He's been writing for Sporcle since 2019; sometimes the blog is an excellent platform to answer random personal questions he has about the world. Most of his free time is spent drinking black coffee like water.