At times the human body can be fairly loud. Normally this is truest when you would really rather it be quiet – while you’re in an interview for instance, on a date, or watching a film during the moment when everyone goes silent… It’s usually at precisely these moments that our bodies then decide that it’s time to let out a loud trumpet of gas, to give us the hiccups or to roar with hunger.
The first two are understandably noisy as air is leaving the body through a small opening. When we’re dealing with a grumbling stomach though it can be less obvious why it’s making all that noise. Is it just malicious? Does our body have some kind of evil sense of humour? Or does this serve an important role of some kind?
A Bit About Your Digestive System
If you are the owner of a noisy stomach, then the first thing to recognise is that it’s not just your stomach making all that noise but also your small intestine and the rest of your digestive system to an extent.
Essentially your digestive system is a long tube that runs from your mouth all the way to your rear end and that processes food along the way. It also happens to link a number of organs that serve this role, and it relies on a number of different muscles to push the contents down through the stomach and prevent them from coming back up (most of the time). This downward pushing motion of the muscles is known as ‘peristalsis’.
Another role of these muscles is to mix the food, liquids and digestive juices together to create the mixture known as ‘chyme’.
The Source of the Noise
So what you now basically have is a lot of food and ‘chyme’ being mushed around and pressed up and down by your stomach muscles. As you can maybe imagine, this has the effect of displacing a lot of air which gets squeezed out either end as food gets pushed in. This essentially creates noise in the precise same way that your farts do – only it’s kept inside your stomach.
The best analogy is to think of those putty pots you perhaps played with a child that would let you press your fingers into them to create rude noises. The noises were created by the air escaping around either side of the putty or something through the middle, and this is the same thing that happens inside your digestive system as food and juices are moved around by your muscles. Your digestive system is one giant putty pot….
Why it Happens When You Get Hungry
At this point you may be wondering why your stomach should make more noise as you get hungry. Surely you would be noisy when there was more food in the system? More putty in the pot?
Well for one thing, if you have an emptier stomach this will then free up more space for sound to bounce and reverberate around. Yes in other words you will improve the acoustics if you have an emptier stomach while all that chyme actually has something of an insulating effect and absorbs some of the noise. Furthermore, when your stomach is empty the walls themselves will also vibrate turning your stomach into something of a bagpipe…
At the same time, when you’re hungry your stomach will begin to rev its engine and warm up ready for action. That’s due to hormones being released that signal your brain that it’s time to eat (which makes you hungry). In response the brain then tells the muscles to do a ‘final sweep’ of your digestive system and to push away any food that may have been missed the first time. So that noise is caused because your digestive system is churning just tiny amounts of food through letting all kinds of wind pass. While you’re hungry your stomach will go through this process around once an hour for 10 to 20 minutes.
How to Prevent a Noisy Stomach
Now you know why your stomach makes all that noise you should be able to work out how you can quieten it down. The first thing to do then is to try and reduce the amount of gas in your stomach as it’s the air specifically that makes the noise. You can do this by eating more slowly and with your mouth closed so that you don’t breathe in as much while you’re chewing.
Another straightforward tip that will reduce gas is to eat less ‘gassy’ food. Gassy foods include things like beans which are also known for making you noisy a little lower down. You should also avoid carbonated drinks which are just filled with gasses.
Finally, you should try to eat multiple smaller meals throughout the day rather than just a few large meals a few times a day. This way you’ll have more food in your stomach at all times meaning your body will be less likely to send those signals to start churning again. There are other benefits to eating more small meals too.
So there you have it: your stomach is a musical putty pot or set of bag pipes depending on how you look at it. That grumbling noise is nothing to worry about, but if you’re feeling shy about it there are several things you can do to quieten it back down!