We’ve all had it happen: You’re sitting in a room that’s totally silent, and all of a sudden, your stomach grumbles loudly. It’s called borborygmi, and occurs during normal digestion as food, liquid, and gas pass through the intestines.
Borborygmi can also be associated with hunger, which is thought to cause secretion of hormones that trigger contractions within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. With no food to muffle the sound, you end up with the audible growling that feels like it can be heard a mile away.
Incomplete digestion, slow digestion, and ingestion of certain foods can all contribute to borborygmi. Most often this is a normal phenomenon.
Fortunately, there are several ways to stop your stomach from growling.
If you’re stuck somewhere you can’t eat and your stomach is rumbling away, drinking water can help stop it. The water will do two things: It can improve digestion and simultaneously fill your stomach to soothe some of the hunger reactions.
As a precautionary note, you should be drinking water consistently through the day. If you chug it all at once, you may end up with a gurgling sound instead of the growling.
If your stomach always seems to growl at that 9 a.m. meeting even though you ate earlier, make sure you eat slower during your breakfast. This will actually help you digest food better, which can prevent stomach grumbling.
This is another solution for chronic stomach growling. If your body starts consistently signaling that it’s time to eat before you’re ready for a meal, you may need to eat more often.
Many people actually benefit from eating four to six small meals a day instead of three large ones. This improves digestion and metabolism, prevents grumbling during digestion, and helps prevent you from being hungry (which in turn prevents hunger growling).
When you’re eating, chew your food slowly and thoroughly. By completely pulverizing each bite, you’re giving your stomach much less work to do later on. This can make digestion much easier. By chewing slowly, you’re also less likely to swallow air, preventing indigestion and gas.
Some foods are more likely to cause gas and indigestion. Avoiding these foods can significantly reduce stomach growling that’s caused by gas moving through the intestines.
Common culprits include hard-to-digest foods such as:
- Brussels sprouts
Foods and drinks with high acidity can contribute to the grumbling noise, so reducing them in your diet can help prevent it. This includes foods like citrus, tomatoes, and some sodas.
This also includes coffee. Limiting or eliminating your morning coffee could help reduce stomach growling that happens a few hours later. Instead, try a cup of caffeinated tea.
Overeating can make it more difficult for the digestive systems to do its job; that’s why we may notice more of that digestion gurgling following large holiday meals.
By focusing on smaller portions more regularly throughout the day and eating slower (which allows your body to register that it’s full), you can more easily avoid overeating.
Walking after a meal helps digestion, moving food through your stomach and intestines efficiently. Studies have shown that walking immediately after a meal, even just for a light, relatively short walk of half a mile, can significantly speed up gastric emptying.
Keep in mind that this doesn’t apply for intense or high-impact exercise — that’s a little too much immediately following a meal.
You know how your stomach feels like it’s in knots when your nervous? Anxiety or high levels of short-term stress can actually slow gastric emptying (the process of your stomach sending food into the intestines), stalling the digestion process and keeping your stomach rumbling.
If you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety, try deep breathing to calm the central nervous system and reduce physical side effects.
Excessive amounts of sugars — in particular fructose and sorbitol — can cause diarrhea and flatus, thus increasing intestinal noise.
The easiest solution when you know you feel that familiar hunger pinch is to eat something right away. Eat something light, such as crackers or a small granola bar. Skip greasy foods such as potato chips. These are more likely to cause gas or indigestion.
Why does my stomach growl in the middle of the night?
This is most likely peristalsis, which is a series of muscle contractions that propels food forward in the GI tract during the digestive process. It’s the rumbling sound you hear after eating, and it can occur hours later, even at night while you’re sleeping. It’s possible that the rumbling noises sound louder at night when you’re in a quiet environment and more prone to focus on this noise.Healthline Medical TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
You might not like having a growling, grumbling stomach, but it’s extremely normal. Whether you’re hungry, digesting loudly, or experiencing indigestion, keep these tips in mind to both reduce and prevent stomach growling.
If you’re experiencing regular stomach growling from indigestion along with frequent abdominal pain, nausea, or diarrhea, make an appointment to see your doctor. This could be caused by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), slow gastric emptying (gastroparesis), or other, more serious stomach conditions.