That gurgling sound comes from normal contractions in your intestines. A too-silent abdomen could mean constipation.
We've probably all experienced that loud gurgling noise after a meal. You know, the one where you wonder if everyone else could hear? If you've ever wondered why it happens and whether or not it's normal, this article will answer those questions.
The Process of Digestion
Let's start with what happens at mealtime. As you swallow your food, it passes through your esophagus and into your stomach. It is your stomach's job to mix, blend and store your food for preliminary digestion and as this happens, there are muscular contractions of the layers in the stomach wall.
As the food moves up and down in your stomach, hydrochloric acid (HCl) and enzymes are added to aid the digestion of your food.
Once your stomach has completed its job, your pyloric valve opens and the food goes into your small intestine, where various enzymes, bicarbonate and bile go to work to further digest your food.
Your small intestine, where 90% of nutrients are absorbed, is approximately 20 feet long. As your food passes through your small intestine on the way to your large intestine, its contractile waves move food around to enhance absorption. This is where the gurgling comes in.
Gurgling sounds are actually the result of air and liquid in your bowels, which move about by the contractions of your intestines. This is medically known as peristalsis. The sounds can be heard with a stethoscope over your abdomen and often, they are loud enough to be audible to people near you.
Leonard Smith, M.D., is a renowned gastrointestinal, vascular and general surgeon as well as an expert in the use of nutrition and natural supplementation. As a surgeon, Dr. Smith has first-hand experience of the problems associated with faulty digestion and the surgical necessities they can cause.
For the past 20 years, Dr. Smith has investigated many holistic medical programs, including nutrition, exercise, chelation, stress management and the relevance of mental and spiritual attitudes in healing. Acknowledging the effectiveness of whole organic foods and nutritional supplementation, Dr. Smith strives to stay on the leading edge of research and breakthroughs in the field of functional nutrition.
This same condition, although to a lesser degree, also occurs in your colon (large intestine) and may be accentuated before a bowel movement.
Is Gurgling Good or Bad?
That gurgling noise is actually a good thing! If your abdomen is totally silent most of the time, it may be an indicator of constipation.
A medical condition called ileus results when the muscle coat of the intestines "goes to sleep," resulting in little to no contractions. The result is constipation. Medications, narcotics, bed rest, surgery, back and other injuries can contribute to this condition. But there are other, often-overlooked causes for ileus or "silent abdomen." To understand them, we must look at the inner ecosystem and our "gut brain."
Constipation and Your Inner Ecosystem
Another cause for ileus is an unhealthy inner ecosystem. The inner ecosystem is made up of the friendly microflora (good bacteria) that reside in our intestines and keep us healthy and strong.
When pathogens, like the fungal species, candida, overtake the good bacteria in the gut, the inner ecosystem becomes damaged and immunity is compromised. Medical research in animals suggests that fungal toxins can penetrate the intestinal lining and cause the muscle coat of the intestines to "go to sleep," resulting in little to no contractions.
The Second Brain - Your "Gut Brain"
Inside your gut is a second brain, known as the enteric nervous system. This "gut brain" is often behind the butterflies we feel in our stomach or the "gut feelings" we sometimes get. Both brains communicate to one another, which is why symptoms like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome may seem difficult to distinguish as physiological or psychological.
Your Gut Brain and Motility
Your gut brain controls the motility and action of your intestines. Problems with motility, like constipation, are a very challenging area of medicine today. Causes for motility disorders range from stress to the balance of healthy microflora in your inner ecosystem.
Medical research continues to find solutions, which may involve drugs or creating implantable pacemakers in the abdomen to stimulate peristalsis for the most serious cases.
Heal Your Inner Ecosystem
An anti-fungal diet, like the Body Ecology diet, is a great way to ensure that your inner ecosystem is teeming with the healthy microflora that aid your digestion and elimination. This is especially important as we age, since aging is a common cause of silent abdomen.
As the immune system becomes less efficient with aging, it is easier for fungal overgrowths to occur, releasing toxins and slowing intestinal action.
However, an imbalance of pathogenic bacteria and fungus can occur at any age if your diet contains too many simple carbohydrates and sugars. This condition should be considered if your abdomen is too silent and constipation is present.
Interestingly, an unhealthy inner ecosystem can also cause too much gurgling, resulting in excessive elimination or diarrhea. The Body Ecology diet's probiotic-rich fermented foods are a great way to bring your inner ecosystem back into balance for either situation. Bring this article to your doctor as a way to discuss possible options for your situation.
Perhaps you feel fine and just hear that normal gurgling sound, and if you do, be happy that your nervous system is well balanced!