By A Perpetually Hungry Contributor
My tummy, GiGi, is gurgling, gently. Does that imply she’s happy? Probably, because research has proven that our gastrointestinal (GI) tract has a language all its own. The food, air and gas moving through our intestines may be signaling that all’s well with them. Even if it’s been a while since we’ve eaten, digestive juices are released every hour or two to clean up any leftovers and may continue talking.
Stomach rumbling and growling usually occur when we’re hungry. Just the thought, sight or smell of food can trigger acids and fluids that need something to work on. So I imagine my growls might be translated into a threat like, “Feed me before that important meeting, or I’ll do the talking for you.”
Growling and rumbling are more commonly associated with hunger because the sound is louder in an empty stomach and intestines without food to muffle the noise. This growling has been of interest for so many years that the ancient Greeks came up with a name for the sounds—borborygmi (BOR-boh-RIG-mee), which actually translates as “rumbling”. The origin of the term relies on onomatopoeia (ana mata pea); it is an attempt to put the rumbling sound into words
We may be more aware of our borborygmi, also known as the “gastric symphony”, at night while lying in bed because the room is quiet. Just think–your own personal music. GiGi sometimes talks to me while I’m reading a book. Maybe I need to pay more attention to see whether she prefers mysteries or historical fiction.
Rumbles may also occur when there is incomplete digestion of food that can lead to excess gas in the intestine. Sometimes excessive stomach noise can be a symptom of an underlying GI disorder, such as irritable bowel syndrome. But in those cases, stomach noise usually is accompanied by other symptoms such as bloating or cramping. Decreased or absent bowel sounds often indicate constipation.
Occasionally, GiGi creaks, but I guess that’s to be expected since she’s getting older just like the rest of me. Actually, borborygmi can happen at any age, but usually gets worse as people get older.
Perhaps I’ll have to pay more attention to “gremlins”—oh, excuse me—ghrelin. “A hormone called ghrelin stimulates appetite and makes your stomach growl,” Mehmet Oz, MD, says. Another doctor warns that if you wait until your stomach starts growling, then you’re waiting too long between meals. Your body is running out of fuel to burn and will start to eat at itself. This turns into catabolism, sort of a self-cannibalism. I make sure GiGi doesn’t have this problem.
Perhaps you’ll want to stop now and listen to what your tummy’s trying to tell you.
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