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Why do our stomachs rumble loudly when we’re hungry?
You’re referring to borborygmus. That’s the medical term for the gurgling in your gut, which usually isn’t a sign of hunger. Rather, it’s your gastrointestinal system doing some housekeeping after your previous meal, says Dr Sita Chokhavatia, an associate professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
A few hours after you eat, a 90-minute cycle of contractions – the inter-digestive phase – moves any remaining bits of food from your stomach and small intestine. Then the “migrating motor complex” noisily shuttles the mostly gas-and-fluid mixture onwards. “It’s like squeezing and shaking a balloon filled with water and air,” says Dr Chokhavatia. If you need to stifle the sound in your stomach because of, say, a meeting or a date, munch some popcorn (for the insoluble fibre) or a piece of chocolate, which will immediately shift your gastro-intestinal system back into its quieter initial digestion mode.