There are several ways to determine a food intolerance, one of which is to take a breath test. By measuring the amount of hydrogen or methane in your breath, it can be determined whether a food has been properly digested or not. The Irish-based company FoodMarble offers this type of breath test in a handy portable device that you can use at home. Two dieticians from Intoleran, Anouk and Rosanne, tested it out and share their experiences. Also in this blog you will find a discount code for 15% off a FoodMarble device!
What is FoodMarble?
FoodMarble AIRE is a small pocket-sized device that allows you to start measuring the values in your breath yourself. This is combined with a handy app, where you can see these values and enter things yourself, such as your diet and symptoms that you experience. FoodMarble has 2 different devices, the AIRE which only measures the hydrogen content, and the AIRE 2 which measures both the hydrogen and methane content. The device we are testing for you is the AIRE. We also ordered the ‘Food intolerance kit’, so you also receive 4 sachets of powder, with which you can later test your intolerances. With FoodMarble you go through a kind of process with the help of the app where at the end you have insight into your intolerances. How this process looks like we explain for you.
What do you need to do?
The process you go through within the app consists of 3 phases: Baseline, Reset and Discovery.
- Baseline: Here you will learn how to use the app and the AIRE device conveniently. You enter your meals that you eat, do breath tests after meals and record any symptoms such as intestinal complaints, sleep and stress. This will give you insight into which meals, for example, give you high fermentation levels and/or bowel problems.
- Reset: In this phase you omit foods that are high in FODMAPs from your diet, to see how your values react to this. The intestinal complaints should decrease and stabilize in this phase.
- Discovery: In the final phase, you schedule ‘Discovery days’ using the FODMAP test kit. You get 4 test bags: lactose, fructose, inulin (one of the fructans) and sorbitol (one of the polyols). On a test day or Discovery day you take the contents of a sachet with water on an empty stomach, and then you go and see how the values react to this. After the test you get a certain score with which the app indicates whether you have an intolerance or not, and also to what extent you are sensitive to these FODMAPs.
What were our expectations?
Anouk: I myself occasionally suffer from intestinal problems, but not always directly linked to certain types of food. I do know that I react to the fructans in food, such as garlic and onion. I thought it would be very interesting to see if there were really high values of hydrogen to be read after eating a meal rich in fructans, and for example when doing the inulin test. I was also very curious to see if there were other things that I would react to specifically.
Rosanne: I have always had some intestinal problems, which I didn’t really know what it was caused by. Since I started working for Intoleran 5 years ago, I saw a connection with my symptoms and foods like: onion, leeks, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, chicory and brown beans. Because of this, I had quickly made the link with an intolerance to fructans and galactans, as this is common in these foods. My expectation was therefore that these intolerances would definitely show up in the FoodMarble test.
What were our experiences?
Anouk: I found it very interesting to get more insight into how my body reacts to certain types of food. If you know what you react to, you can also take this into account. The challenges were quite intensive, because beforehand you are not allowed to eat anything for 12 hours and during the challenge you have to blow into the AIRE device every 15 minutes. Yet I found it worth it given the insight you get after that time. I myself have only done 2 of the 4 challenges, but if you really do not know where your bowel problems come from it is good to do all 4 challenges. I found the app to be user-friendly and comprehensive. The disadvantage I found was the price of the AIRE, but you get a lot in return!
Rosanne: The AIRE device is small and therefore easy to carry around. You can keep it in a small pouch for example. I have gained more insight and confirmation of my suspicion of a fructans/galactans intolerance. If you really don’t know what you are intolerant to, the AIRE can give you more insight. The AIRE can also be used under the supervision of a dietician and the dietician can also view the information. Since the FoodMarble app was developed in Ireland, not all foods are found that we use in the Netherlands. For example, if you eat stamppot kale, you cannot find cooked potatoes in the app. The app is completely in English, which was not a problem for me, but is good to know. For some people, the AIRE can be quite pricey, but you do get a comprehensive app in return and the AIRE can also be used for longer.
What were our results?
Anouk: As I had already noticed that I reacted most violently to different types of fruit and vegetables, I was most curious about the challenges of fructose and inulin. So I did both. With the fructose test, I did experience a slight increase, but it wasn’t actually classified as intolerance. The inulin test showed a big increase and peak in my values after 1.5 minutes, after which I was also classified as intolerant. I had actually counted on this myself, but it was still nice to get this confirmation.
Rosanne: The challenges I have done are the sorbitol and inulin (fructans) challenges. They measure whether or not you have an intolerance based on the hydrogen that you exhale after fermentation in the intestines. With the sorbitol challenge I had a slight increase in hydrogen breath level, the app indicates that there may be a possible intolerance. I had little to no intestinal problems after drinking the sorbitol, so it is a very slight intolerance. I also did the inulin challenge, which I already suspected I was intolerant to because it is a fructan. I had a higher peak in the measured hydrogen breath level and I also had major intestinal problems. So now I can say with certainty that I have a fructan intolerance.
What is our conclusion?
The devices from FoodMarble can help you gain more insight into your possible intolerances to carbohydrates and polyols (FODMAPs). If you find it difficult to go to a dietician, then this is certainly an opportunity to gain more insight into possible intolerances.
Want to try it yourself? Then order through THIS LINK and receive a 15% discount on one of the devices.
FoodMarble and Intoleran
If, after using FoodMarble, you know what you are intolerant to, you can use a supplement from Intoleran to still be able to eat something once in a while that you normally can’t stand. The only group that we unfortunately do not have a supplement for are the polyols.
Rosanne: I myself also use the supplements regularly. During my first week of using FoodMarble, I had made a meal that contained a lot of fructans/galactans. After this I had intestinal problems and the value of the hydrogen I had blown up was also extremely high. Since the food was very good, and I wanted to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day, I took the supplement Quatrase forte (2 capsules). After this I just had a low hydrogen level and fortunately nothing bothered me.
Dietitians and FoodMarble
If you are going to do your own research to determine your intolerances, FoodMarble can certainly be of great help. However, we still recommend seeking guidance from a dietician, possibly after you have completed the tests. It is not wise to continue avoiding many foods, because then there is a chance of deficiencies in, for example, vitamins and minerals. A dietician can help you establish a full dietary pattern, which also takes into account your intolerances.
Dietitians can also, if you wish, see your data from FoodMarble through a clinical FoodMarble environment. You can also choose not to do any challenges yourself, but only use the FoodMarble to measure your hydrogen breath level after eating your meals and keep track of your symptoms in the app. The dietician can then view this data and use his/her knowledge to more quickly establish a link between your symptoms and a particular intolerance.