Why does your stomach growl when you are hungry?

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Doctors call it “borborygmi”. Sounds somewhat like the sound you hear, isn’t it?

Growling in the stomach is a common phenomenon all of us would have experienced sometime or the other. “The stomach muscles are in constant peristaltic motion to digest the food ingested and letting it flow into the intestines. In general, increased flow within the system causes the stomach to growl,” says Dr Mahesh Goenka, director and head of the department of gastroenterology, Apollo Gleneagles, Calcutta.

The reasons for the increased flow of chyme (digested food) are many. Often, an obstruction in the gut may hamper the bowel movement, thereby causing an increased flow in the proximal region to allow smooth passage. In an attempt to do so the muscles contract vigorously, thereby causing the growling noise. The obstruction could be due to a tumour or a consequence of tuberculosis.

“Again, if in the absence of food the stomach walls squeeze together in an attempt to mix and digest food, the gases and digestive juices slosh around in the empty organ creating the noise,” says Dr Goenka.

Yet, hunger actually has nothing to do with an empty stomach but is a result of certain nutrients missing in the bloodstream. The brain contains a “hunger centre”, which functions as an accelerator — or brake — for our stomachs and intestines. Once the necessary nutrients are lacking in the blood, the dinner bell is rung and the stomach and intestines start growling.

The reasons that trigger malabsorption of nutrients often include worm infestations like gyadriasis or tropical spruce (common in India), TB, lymphoma (an intestinal tumour) or Crohn’s disease (an allergy that causes inflammation of the bowel). And, adds Dr Goenka, if you are thin and lack adequate adipose padding, then too your stomach can often be heard growling.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

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