FoodMarble: A New Personalized Digestive Tracker

I’m not big on gadgets, but as someone who deals with bloating from seemingly innocuous foods, my interest was peaked when I heard about FoodMarble AIRE, which bills itself as a Fitbit for gut health.

I’m certainly not the only one who deals with digestive woes (and luckily mine aren’t serious). An estimated 40% of the population will be affected by one of more functional GI disorders in lifetime. This pocket-size device is built around hydrogen breath testing technology and techniques used in gastroenterology departments to identify specific foods that could be triggering symptoms of conditions such as IBS.

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The founder Aonghus Shortt, PhD, is an electrical engineer and data scientist in Ireland whose wife Grace was diagnosed with IBS after being placed on a series of medications that didn’t relieve her symptoms. Determined to help her feel better, he discovered breath analysis could be used to identify food triggers for digestive symptoms. He started prototyping on his kitchen table and testing them out on her to figure out what foods she could digest. The device ultimately worked and he launched it commercially.

So how did I fare with this gadget? Unfortunately, not amazingly well.

I could see FoodMarble being more relevant if you have the diligence to log everything that goes in (and out…) of your body and breathing into the device multiple times a day – but I just didn’t have that diligence. I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to test out FoodMarble, but it didn’t sound as tedious as it actually is! Especially when you factor in a screaming newborn. And while their connected app has hundreds of foods to choose from, many common ones aren’t included.

It’s not that you can eat something, breath into the device and get an instant answer if the food is triggering or not – you need to look for patterns over time and even then, I have to agree with Wired there isn’t much of anything in the way of data-driven recommendations/explanations based on results.

Bottom line: the idea for FoodMarble is amazing. So many of us suffer from diarrhea, constipation bloating and other digestive woes related to the foods we’re eating it just doesn’t seem that this device is quite there yet in terms of finding the culprit unless you’re willing to commit hours and hours.

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