Most people think that their stomach growls because of hunger, but the rumbling in the abdomen can also come from the intestines, especially from the small intestine. The growling occurs because there are too many gases present in the gastrointestinal tract or because the food is not completely digested.
The muscles in the stomach and intestines are constantly working to knead, mix and propel the food that gets into it. This rhythmic contraction is called peristalsis and it takes place throughout the day, regardless of whether there is much or little food present in the gastrointestinal tract.
That digestion process makes noises and when your stomach and intestines are empty, you hear that grumpy sound much clearer. When there is less food in the stomach, the cavities are mainly filled with air and liquids, and the sounds are less muted. In such a hollow space, the sound sounds louder because your stomach then acts as a kind of sound box. However, a grumpy stomach does not necessarily mean that you are hungry, but if you are hungry, the chance of growling is higher. Other reasons are:
- Eating daily at set times can cause your stomach to set a kind of timer. At those fixed times, it prepares itself for the food that is coming causing the sound you hear
- An intestinal obstruction or an increased volume of fluid and gas in the intestines due to diarrhea.
- An excess of gas formation due to excessive air-hopping (by eating quickly and talking at the same time) or a gastrointestinal disorder. Certain foods also cause more gas formation such as all types of cabbage, onions, beans and carbonated (fresh) drinks.
A growling stomach is therefore nothing to worry about in most cases. Those sounds are the signal that your intestines are working well.