Respirators that assess the health of your gut? Yes, they exist

The wellness world is full of gut news, and rightfully so: Researchers are learning more every day about how the microbes that live in our gut give us important clues about how our bodies use energy as well as our overall health.

But in reality, it can be difficult to pinpoint what is going on inside the digestive system, and the relationship of metabolism to weight and health. This makes it difficult to find the root cause of an upset stomach or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. That’s why mobile devices likeoodMarble’s Aire Gastrointestinal breathing test Lumens Metabolism tracker Born: To help people understand what the gut does and how our bodies use food as fuel.

At-home metabolic tests aren’t new — there are The number of home tests that measure hormone levels that can influence metabolism through blood or saliva samples. There is, too Home food allergy tests Available, though the cost-effectiveness of these may be up in the air because it’s hard to quantify What is a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity Without a lot of trial and error (and maybe a pile of medical bills).

But a vape-like device that you can slip into your pocket that promises to give you clues to your metabolism and digestive system is especially promising. These breathalyzers work by reading your breath for different gases emitted and sending that information to your phone to give you actionable insights.

Here’s what we know about how it works, and whether it’s worth it.

Digestive breath tester for people with stomach problems

FoodMarble’s founder, Aonghus Shortt, had an engineering background when he began looking for a better solution for his wife after she was diagnosed with Irritable bowel syndrome, so he createdoodMarble’s AIRE sensor. Specifically, he wanted to help her and others with food-related symptoms understand how food is digested, so they know what triggers their symptoms and which foods are probably good to eat.

To useoodMarbleYou exhale into the device for 5 seconds, and the particles in your breath will flow through special sensors that indicate different levels of gases present in the breath, says Short. In this case, elevated levels of hydrogen and methane indicate a lot of whatoodMarble calls fermentation—what kicks off when your digestive system and gut microbes are well digested.

“Instead of digesting food, you have your gut microbes and you break it down,” Short said. “In a sense, they absorb it instead.”

When paired with theoodMarble app, the device will give you information about which foods cause high levels of fermentation, which presumably also triggers more GI symptoms, such as bloating. The goal is to help you narrow down the trigger foods lessermentation or reducing gas, so they are easier on your intestines.

FoodMarble also has a food library, where you can search for easily digestible foods based on information collected by the breath tester. This may make it easier to go grocery shopping or decide where to eat out when you look at restaurant menus beforehand.

FoodMarble Digestive Breath Test System.

Marble food

A device that claims to break your metabolic code

Lumen’s portable metabolism test, which announces insights that may help you lose weight or get more energy, also begins with an exhalation into the machine. A carbon dioxide sensor measures the level in your breath, supposedly indicating the type of fuel your body uses to produce energy. The goal is better Metabolic flexibilityor your body’s ability to transition between different types of fuel.

Lumen says its device is based on a test type This was historically reserved for testing athletes in a clinical setting. The device tells you Whether you burn mostly fat or carbs, and the associated app suggests a day or meal plan for you, as mentioned in this Wired review. Understanding how your body uses energy may help promote a healthier or more sustainable weight loss plan, or increase your energy.

Classification of gut health scores

Hydrogen breath tests are not new, says New York gastroenterologist Nikit Sonpal. They usually It is used to diagnose health conditions of the gastrointestinal tract, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, lactose intolerance and overgrowth of small intestinal bacteria. And a tool that helps people narrow down which foods trigger their symptoms could be helpful. Sonpal says that in patients he expects to be lactose intolerant, he suggests the “lactose and chill” method, which is basically sitting down to watch a movie while eating ice cream and cheese, then waiting to see if you experience bloating, diarrhea, or cramps. .

However, knowing how much hydrogen or fermentation you produce after eating is not valuable information for everyone. Some foods naturally produce more hydrogen. And according to Sonpal, if you have a higher pH level without symptoms, you don’t need to worry. Indeed,oodMarble says on his website That breath test kits are for people with SIBO, IBS, or digestive issues — so, not for people who are curious but don’t have symptoms.

But Sonpal adds that people with digestive issues It might have another one, or potentially a more serious health condition. He says about a third of people with IBS also have another condition such as celiac, malabsorption syndrome, or Crohn’s disease.

“How many people are going to buy this, design their own food, but potentially delay a diagnosis of something more serious?”

Like other health trackers out there, breath testers and sensors that provide clues in your digestive system or metabolism will be useful to many people, but not everyone. Perhaps they’re best for people who already have an accurate medical diagnosis and are looking for tools to help manage their symptoms, or people who are passionate about health tech and like to keep track of their metrics, including digestive or metabolic health.

Also, you are breathing into a machine, not adding a medication or supplement to your body and introducing the potential for side effects. So using one as a first step might be worth it, if you are willing to spend the money. But losing weight can be more complicated than choosing food.

“Food trackers are one component of the multifaceted diamond of weight loss,” said Sonpal.

In general, digestive and food-related problems can be difficult to diagnose for the same reason that organs are such important targets for new insight devices: It’s a complex system, and related symptoms They often overlap each other. But more information is better than less, and technology is keeping up with our growing concern for gut health.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.