Ever interrupted a meeting with a loud stomach rumble? Or heard sounds in there like a blocked drain is being cleared?
Whilst it can be embarrassing, stomach noises aren’t normally anything to worry about, it’s often just food and liquid moving through your digestion.
The main causes of tummy rumbling (medically referred to as Borborygmi) are explored below.
Normal digestion can create noise
When food hits our stomach there is a muscle contraction that helps to break the food down. Our stomach acid and digestive enzymes can also add noises as the chemical breakdown of food creates gas and more fluids.
The movement and breakdown of food may lead to noises that are audible outside your body.
A stomach rumble don’t always mean hunger
When the stomach hasn’t had food our Migrating Motor Complex (MMC) gets to work. You can read more about the MMC and how it affects digestion.
This is your internal intestinal housekeeper which sweeps away debris from the insides of the small intestine, but it only kicks in when you haven’t eaten for around 2 hours. When your tummy rumbles and your digestive tract is empty the sounds will be louder.
This action of the MMC can make a bit of gurgling and doesn’t necessarily indicate hunger.
Notice whether you feel hungry and eat if you do!
Malabsorption of food can lead to stomach rumbling
If you don’t break down your food effectively then excess gas can be created which may be accompanied by bloating, pain or cramps. This is often down to partially broken down carbohydrates or sugars.
People with IBS typically have issues with breaking down foods and so have increased gas, bloating and water in the bowel.
- People sensitive to sugars, like fructose, or sweeteners like sorbitol / xylitol, or those with lactose intolerance may experience gurgling stomach noises.
- Beans commonly cause excess gas which can be linked to a noisy rumble.
Stomach rumbling and IBS
People with IBS often experience more stomach rumbles than other people, which can be embarrassing.
- If you have IBS-C (tendency to constipation) then the slow bowel transit time can lead to more time to ferment foods in the intestines. This can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria which cause gas and bloating. Read more Tips for Constipation
- If you have IBS-D (tendency to diarrhoea) loud stomach rumbles may be down to increased water and gas. This is likely to be down to a bacterial imbalance in the digestive system. Some people have IBS after a bacterial infection (post-infectious IBS).
A noisy digestion is a common occurrence in SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) where bacteria are fermenting foods in the small intestine causing excess gas and bloating.
Certain foods increase stomach rumbles
Alcohol, fizzy drinks, veg like cabbage, or sprouts can lead to gurgling in some people.
Most of the time a gurgling tummy is nothing to worry about, but see your doctor if you’re worried.
Hi I'm Anna Mapson, registered Nutritional Therapist.
I can help you to:
- understand your digestion better, so you recognise your triggers
- eat a well balanced diet, with tasty meals that are simple to prepare
- develop better digestion and more energy
Find more about my 3 month 1:1 Gut Reset programme
Struggling with IBS-D? Did you know it could be related to bile acid diarrhoea (BAD)? You might not have heard of this, but some studies show that around 34% of people with Diarrhoea predominant IBS may have BAD. What are bile acids? Bile is made in the liver, and...
Stop scrolling all those blogs about better gut health! This is my best gut health advice, the one thing you need to do to get better digestion. If you're looking to improve your gut health my number one tip is to eat more variety. Specifically, we need to aim to...
You might not often discuss your bowel habits with your nearest and dearest, but here's a list of red flags for bowel movements you would need to speak to your doctor about. Red flags to look out for around bowel movements In general terms ongoing bleeding or pain...