Migrating Motor Complex: A Key Role In Gut Health

A critical aspect of digestion of which many are not aware is called the Migrating Motor Complex (MMC). The MMC is a cyclic motility pattern that occurs in the stomach and small intestine when our body is in a fasted state. By way of contractions, the MMC, essentially, acts as the upper gastrointestinal tract’s housekeeper–helping move particles remaining in the small intestine through the digestive tract.

The MMC, a digestive function many species possess, occurs in four phases–each with varying intervals of contractions. The length of the MMC cycle itself, however, varies significantly from person to person and from day to day with research estimating it ranges anywhere from 90 minutes to almost two hours in length.

The functioning of the MMC is extremely complex and involves a gastroprokinetic hormone, motilin, as well as help from the vagus nerve. While it’s not important to necessarily understand the science behind the MMC, it’s crucial to remember that the MMC only functions when your body is in a fasted state.


A poorly functioning MMC can lead to gastrointestinal issues such as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This likely occurs when food particles remain in the small intestine and lead to an increase in the growth of bacteria. When the MMC is not functioning properly or effectively, it has also been linked to chronic constipation (seen with IBS) and supporting it can reduce digestive issues such as constipation, gas, and bloating.

Support Your MMC

Spacing out meals and snacks is the best way to support the functioning of your MMC. Aim for three to four hours between each meal. Consuming foods high in fiber and healthy fats with each meal will help reduce hunger and keep you satiated longer so you can increase your fasting window.

If you suspect you may have or have been diagnosed with SIBO, or experience chronic digestive issues, Totally Body Health can help you both manage the health of your gut and your symptoms. Call today for your FREE consultation.

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