Have you ever wondered what happens to the body when you feel hungry? For many of us, this means a stomach-rumbling or growling reaction. The BBC was asked about the body’s reaction to hunger and their Science Focus arm answered with a detailed explanation of what occurs. According to the BBC, Hunger is a complicated sensation that is indirectly linked to the need for food. Humans are opportunistic omnivores that have evolved to take advantage of nourishment whenever it is present.
In fact, the sight or aroma of food can trigger hunger, and so can just imagining it. Your body needs time to be ready for digestion and many of the interconnected hormone changes are driven by your body clock. This is why you’ll feel hungry at lunchtime, whether or not you need to eat. So, what all is going on in your stomach when you feel hungry? You will be surprised at what our bodies get up to!
The Vagus Nerve Plays a Huge Part
The vagus nerve, also known as the vagal nerves, are the main nerves of your parasympathetic nervous system. This system controls specific body functions such as digestion, heart rate, and the immune system. These functions are involuntary, meaning you can’t consciously control them. According to the BBC, the vagus sends signals to the brain about how full or empty your stomach is, as well as the different nutrients present in the intestines.
Are You Familiar with the Term ‘Borborygmus’?
When your stomach has been empty for two hours, it begins contracting to sweep the remaining food into the intestines. The BBC says this rumbling is called “borborygmus.” So, that rumbling or growling in your stomach is the organ trying to push food into your intestines. Wild, right?
What Happens to the Gastrointestinal Tract When You’re Hungry?
Cells in the stomach and intestine stimulate ghrelin, a hormone that triggers feelings of hunger. Higher ghrelin levels are actually associated with obesity. So, it’s a hormonal response as well.
Your Pancreas Is a Key Player
Your pancreas also helps your digestive system by making hormones. These are chemical messengers that travel through your blood. Pancreatic hormones help regulate your blood sugar levels and appetite, stimulate stomach acids, and tell your stomach when to empty. It’s a big player in all of this.
Hunger Is Actually In Your Blood
According to the BBC, levels of key nutrients in your blood, including glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids, are at their lowest concentrations when you are hungry. It’s a combination of these nutrient levels as well as hormones traveling through the blood that trigger hunger.
Hunger Hacks the Brain
Hunger increases your impulsiveness and reduces your ability to make long-term decisions, the BBC says. This is why you shouldn’t shop on an empty stomach! We all know this to be true but it is wild how much hunger can dictate our decision-making process.
Being ‘Hangry’ Explained By Science
We’ve all been there. You missed a meal and now you’re mad about it. According to the BBC, psychology holds the answer to why this happens. “There’s a long-running theory in psychology that states self-control depends on blood glucose levels,” the outlet says. “When you haven’t eaten you have less glucose, meaning that your tolerance is likely to run out sooner.”
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Scientists Tested the Hanger
In one study, cited by the BBC, psychologists gave married participants a voodoo doll to represent their spouse (what could go wrong?). Each night for 21 nights, the researchers measured the participants’ blood glucose levels and told them to stick as many pins in the doll as they wanted, based on how angry they were feeling. Surprise, surprise! The participants with the lowest glucose levels actually stuck in the most pins. The hanger is real, folks!
Why Does Drinking Alcohol Make You Hungry?
Have you ever had too much to drink and felt the need to eat “drunk food?” If you are a drinker, of course you have. The BBC knows why! A 2009 study at the University of Sussex showed that alcohol directly affects the appetite center of the brain so energy-dense foods like carbs and fried grub are more appealing.
Why Do You Feel Sick When You’re Hungry?
Another experience that most of us have had is feeling nauseous when we are hungry. Why does that happen? According to the BBC, when you’re hungry, the hydrochloric acid in your empty stomach can slosh around and touch the lower oesophageal sphincter (it’s the valve that holds the top of your stomach closed). This is also what happens when you throw up, and it triggers similar feelings of nausea.
Another Reason You Feel Nausea When You’re Hungry
Blame the brain! Hunger can also stimulate the “area postrema” structure in your brainstem, which detects bacterial toxins in the blood to cause you to throw up in reaction to food poisoning. For some unknown reason, very low blood sugar can sometimes trigger a false alarm.
Why Does Hot Weather Make You Lose Your Appetite?
Have you ever been hungry and then stepped outside only to find your appetite completely gone because it is hot out? Why is that?
“All of our metabolic processes generate heat, including digestion,” the BBC notes. “For every 1,000 calories you eat, only 250 are converted into useful energy – the rest ends up as waste heat.”
Your Body Goes After Your Fat Reserves In Hot Weather
In hot weather, your body is already working diligently to keep you from overheating, and it doesn’t need the extra heat from digesting a big meal. So, your appetite is temporarily put on hold and your body gets more of its energy from stored fat reserves instead.
Why Do You Get Tired After Eating?
“Oftentimes, when you’re eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and protein, you may feel sleepier because you have an uptake of tryptophan from the protein and then an increase of serotonin,” registered dietitian Julia Zumpano, RD, explained to Cleveland Clinic.
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Your Blood Sugar Rises and Your Energy Level Falls
“After you eat a meal, insulin is the key that unlocks sugar into your bloodstream,” Zumpano said. “After you eat a meal, your blood sugar rises. Insulin goes into the bloodstream to take the sugar out of the blood and put it in the cells for energy.”
There you go! Now, you know some interesting facts about hunger and why our stomachs rumble when we are hungry. If you’d like to learn even more about the human body, keep reading. We’re telling you why you yawn next!
Why Do We Yawn? Discover the Possible Answers Below and Some Fascinating Facts About Our Bodies.
Current research suggests a correlation between brain temperature and yawning as well as it potentially being an empathic response. So, do we yawn to regulate brain temperature or do we yawn because others are yawning around us?
Even If You’re Not Tired, Yawns Happen
The most scientifically backed theory about why we yawn has to do with brain temperature regulation. A 2014 study published in the journal Physiology & Behavior looked at the yawning habits of 120 people and found that yawning occurred less during the winter than in summer. If the brain’s temperature gets too far outside of the normal range, inhaling air can help cool it down.
Yawning When You’re Tired
Why do we yawn when we’re tired? It might be your body trying to stimulate your brain. When we’re tired, the brain slows down causing the temperature to drop. But, stick a pin in this topic because we will return to it.
Why Do We Yawn When We’re Bored?
Boredom is a lack of stimulation and that’s not only true for you when you feel it. When our brains get bored they slow down, causing the temperature to drop. Yawning helps stimulate the brain and raises the temperature back to. a normal range.
Why Do We Yawn When We See Someone Else Yawn?
In general, when you’re in the same environment as another person, you’re both exposed to the same stimuli and the actual temperature that surrounds you. That means that both people or multiple people can share the same set of circumstances that causes yawning.
Does Yawning Wake Us Up?
Another reason you may yawn is due to the body wanting to wake itself up. The physical motion helps stretch the lungs and their tissues, and it allows the body to flex its muscles and joints. Evidence also suggests that yawns also force blood toward your face and brain to increase alertness.
Other Possibilities for Why Yawning Is Contagious
Yes, yawning is contagious and, no, you’re not imagining it. Yawning is so contagious that even videos of people yawning can make you yawn. In the above video, created by BuzzFeed, people are shown yawning. Try watching the video and see if it will also make you yawn. We’ll let you know just what it could mean after you’ve viewed it.
Did You Yawn?
Did the video make you yawn? If it did, that could be a really good signal. According to a Baylor study reported by Healthline, yawning after you see someone else yawn means that you’re expressing empathy and a readiness to bond with another person.
More on the Baylor Study
The study, which was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, looked at 135 college students, their personalities, and how they reacted to different facial movements. The results showed that the less empathy a person had, the less likely they would yawn after seeing someone else yawn.
However, You’re Not a Psychopath If You Did Not Yawn
You might not have yawned while watching the video and if you did not, there is no reason to worry! The results of the Baylor study cannot be generalized. This means that not yawning does not indicate psychopathic or sociopathic tendencies.
How Do You Stop Yawning?
Sometimes you catch a case of the yawns and you cannot stop yawning once you have started. A lack of sleep is generally the cause but there are some things you can do to help yourself out. It’s actually pretty easy to stop a yawning fit scenario.
If you are excessively yawning, practice deep, nasal breathing. That just means for you to take deep breaths through your nose. A 2007 study also found that nasal breathing decreased contagious yawning completely in their research.
Tips for Better Sleep and Less Yawning
For better quality sleep and fewer yawns, exercise more. Also, limiting caffeine and alcohol will help. Further, creating a comfortable sleeping environment and sticking to a sleep schedule will also help you get the most restful and restorative sleep possible.
Other Ways to Stop Yawns
Get that body moving! Breaking up a routine will also help stimulate your brain. Feelings of tiredness, boredom, and stress tend to make people yawn even more. Excessive yawning may also stem from taking in too much caffeine or going through an opiate detox.
Time to Cool Off
As we mentioned, yawning is likely a result of brain temperature. That means that cooling yourself off will likely help you from yawning. You can try taking a walk outside or finding a space with a cooler temperature. If you don’t have time to go for a walk, drink some cool water or eat a chilled snack, such as fruit or baby carrots.
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When Should You See a Doctor?
You should get medical advice from a doctor or licensed health official if you feel like you’re excessively yawning. If the yawning or other symptoms keep you from carrying about your day-to-day life, tell your doctor when you started yawning, other symptoms such as brain fog or pain in certain areas, and if you’ve had a lack of sleep. This information can help your doctor diagnose the underlying condition and make treatment recommendations based on individual needs.
Other Potential Causes for Excessive Yawning
Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or narcolepsy, could be the reason behind your excessive yawning. Further, many medications used to treat depression and anxiety can cause it. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are notorious for causing it, according to Healthline.
It Could Be Serious
Although far less common, excessive yawning could also be a sign of health conditions that can include:
- a heart attack, especially if you are experiencing other common related symptoms such as chest pain or discomfort, upper body discomfort, lightheadedness, and shortness of breath
- epilepsy, particularly in the presence of frontal lobe involvement
- neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS)
- liver failure, which may be experienced as fatigue
- a brain tumor, though this would be extremely rare
Why Do We Call It a Yawn?
The Latin term used in medicine is oscitatio from the verb oscito meaning “to open the mouth.” The English word “yawn” comes from gionian in Old English, meaning “open the mouth wide.”
Yawning Might Serve a Different Purpose for Other Animals
In animals, yawning can serve as a warning signal. Charles Darwin’s book, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, mentions that baboons do it to threaten their enemies, possibly by displaying their large canine teeth.
Yes, FIsh Also Do It
Did you know that fish also yawn? It’s a pretty wild fact considering they do not breathe in the same way as land-dwelling creatures. But, they might be doing it for another reason than we do. Siamese fighting fish do it only when they see a conspecific (same species) or their own mirror-image, and their yawn often accompanies an aggressive attack
Some Penguins Do It as Part of Their Courtship
Adelie penguins use yawning as part of their courtship ritual. Penguin couples face off and the males engage in what is described as an “ecstatic display”, opening their beaks and pointing their faces skyward. This trait has also been seen among emperor penguins. Researchers have been attempting to discover why these two different species share this trait, despite not sharing a habitat.
Snakes Yawn for a Disturbing Reason
Snakes yawn, both to realign their jaws after a meal and for respiratory reasons, as their trachea can be seen to expand when they do this. How creepy is that?
Yes, Your Dog Is Catching Your Contagious Yawns
Dogs, and occasionally cats, often yawn after seeing people yawn and when they feel uncertain. Dogs demonstrate contagious yawning when exposed to human yawning. Dogs are very adept at reading human communication actions, so it is unclear if this phenomenon is rooted in evolutionary history or a result of domestication.
Folks Were Once Superstitious About It
Back in the day, people had some pretty wild beliefs about yawning including that it was an evil or good spirit entering or exiting the body. It’s because of the belief that in the Medieval period people would make the sign of the cross over their mouths before, after, and during a yawn. Polydore Vergil, a humanist scholar, recorded instances of it between 1470 and 1555.
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Even George Washington Had Something to Say About It
One of the United States’ founding fathers believed that yawning was rude to do in public. It’s been seen as a sign of boredom and a social faux pas for centuries. “If You Cough, Sneeze, Sigh, or Yawn, do it not Loud but Privately; and Speak not in your Yawning, but put Your handkerchief or Hand before your face and turn aside,” Washington once said.
Andrew is an Assistant Editor for Mamas Uncut with over ten years of experience as a writer in the creative, marketing, and blogging spaces. After studying Film and Art History, he developed a passion for telling stories in a variety of mediums. Obsessively making lists, reporting celebrity news, and diving into emerging pop cultural topics are a few of his interests.
- 1 The Vagus Nerve Plays a Huge Part
- 2 Are You Familiar with the Term ‘Borborygmus’?
- 3 What Happens to the Gastrointestinal Tract When You’re Hungry?
- 4 Your Pancreas Is a Key Player
- 5 Hunger Is Actually In Your Blood
- 6 Hunger Hacks the Brain
- 7 Being ‘Hangry’ Explained By Science
- 8 Scientists Tested the Hanger
- 9 Why Does Drinking Alcohol Make You Hungry?
- 10 Why Do You Feel Sick When You’re Hungry?
- 11 Another Reason You Feel Nausea When You’re Hungry
- 12 Why Does Hot Weather Make You Lose Your Appetite?
- 13 Your Body Goes After Your Fat Reserves In Hot Weather
- 14 Why Do You Get Tired After Eating?
- 15 Your Blood Sugar Rises and Your Energy Level Falls
- 16 Why Do We Yawn? Discover the Possible Answers Below and Some Fascinating Facts About Our Bodies.
- 17 Even If You’re Not Tired, Yawns Happen
- 18 Yawning When You’re Tired
- 19 Why Do We Yawn When We’re Bored?
- 20 Why Do We Yawn When We See Someone Else Yawn?
- 21 Does Yawning Wake Us Up?
- 22 Other Possibilities for Why Yawning Is Contagious
- 23 Did You Yawn?
- 24 More on the Baylor Study
- 25 However, You’re Not a Psychopath If You Did Not Yawn
- 26 How Do You Stop Yawning?
- 27 Nasal Breathing
- 28 Tips for Better Sleep and Less Yawning
- 29 Other Ways to Stop Yawns
- 30 Time to Cool Off
- 31 When Should You See a Doctor?
- 32 Other Potential Causes for Excessive Yawning
- 33 It Could Be Serious
- 34 Why Do We Call It a Yawn?
- 35 Yawning Might Serve a Different Purpose for Other Animals
- 36 Yes, FIsh Also Do It
- 37 Some Penguins Do It as Part of Their Courtship
- 38 Snakes Yawn for a Disturbing Reason
- 39 Yes, Your Dog Is Catching Your Contagious Yawns
- 40 Folks Were Once Superstitious About It
- 41 Even George Washington Had Something to Say About It
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