If you’re one of the 20 percent of American adults suffering from chronic indigestion, you know how hard it can be to pinpoint the cause of your troubles.
That’s because everyone’s digestive system is unique. Despite expert medical advice and a carefully-kept food diary, you may not know which foods are problematic for your unique digestive system.
To eliminate the guesswork, the Dublin-based startup FoodMarble has developed a product called AIRE, which is described as the world’s first personal digestion tracker. AIRE is intended to help people with symptoms usually associated with irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive disorders.
This small, handheld device is similar to a Breathalyzer which measures blood-alcohol levels. But when you breathe into the AIRE, it measures gasses which are associated with poor digestion such as hydrogen and methane.
In conjunction with its app, AIRE can identify foods which are most likely to cause symptoms such as gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and constipation. The device also can help you construct a custom diet of meals and snacks that are compatible with your digestive system, and help control digestive symptoms by tracking your food intake, gas levels, stress, and sleep.
The AIRE devices, which sell for $99, are Bluetooth-enabled and use a breath-analysis technology that hospitals and gastroenterology clinics have utilized for many years. But this is the first time such a miniaturized device has been developed for home use.
When you eat foods which can’t be broken down by stomach acids and absorbed by the small intestine, they pass into the large intestine, where they’re fermented by bacteria.
This process releases gasses that cause symptoms of indigestion. Some of these gasses are absorbed into your bloodstream. When this blood reaches your lungs, measurable amounts of the gasses are exhaled in your breath.
The initial aim of AIRE is to determine whether or not you’re exhaling gasses which suggest you’re sensitive to foods high in so-called FODMAPs – rermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols. FODMAPS are a class of carbohydrates including fructose, lactose, and sorbitol, which are found in many everyday foods.
On an empty stomach, you start by taking a baseline breath reading. Then you drink a FODMAP concoction provided by AIRE’s manufacturer, and take readings every 15 minutes for about three hours to measure levels of fermented gasses.
An accompanying mobile app – which is compatible with iOS and Android –allows you to rate your digestive comfort on a scale of one to 100.
Once you have readings for these FODMAP concoctions, AIRE uses the data to create a personal digestive profile. This can help you identify foods which are either compatible or not compatible with your digestive system.
Other key AIRE features include:
- Meal Maker, which devises nutritionally-balanced meals based on your food compatibility results.
- Complete Digestive Tracking, which allows users to log food intake, sleep quality, stress, and digestive symptoms. It also can combine data from other wearables to create a more complete picture of factors that contribute to your digestive well-being.
- Data Sharing, which allows you to share digestive tracking data with your doctor or dietician.
Although breath analysis is an accurate way to determine food compatibility, it’s not perfect. A recent review in gastroenterology’s most-respected journal – Gut – showed that the more expensive hydrogen breath tests used by doctors can produce confusing results such as false positive and false negatives.
AIRE is intended to help people with symptoms usually associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Since it’s not intended for people who may have gluten intolerance (celiac disease) or severe acid reflux, it’s best to consult with your doctor before ordering the device.
High FODMAP roods include:
- Vegetables such as asparagus, artichokes, onions, garlic, legumes, sugar snap peas, beetroot, Savoy cabbage, celery, and sweet corn
- Fruits such as apples, pears, mango, nashi pears, watermelon, nectarines, peaches, and plums.
- Dairy products such as cow’s milk, yogurt, soft cheese, cream, custard, and ice cream.
- Legumes such as beans.
- Breads and cereals including wheat and rye.
- Nuts such as cashews and pistachios
Low FODMAP foods include:
- Vegetables such as alfalfa, bean sprouts, green beans, bok choy, capsicum (bell pepper), carrot, chives, fresh herbs, choy sum, cucumber, lettuce, tomato, and zucchini.
- Fruits such as banana, orange, mandarin, and grapes..
- Dairy products such as lactose-free milk and yogurt, and hard cheese.
- Breads and cereals including gluten-free bread and sourdough spelt bread, rice bubbles, oats, gluten-free pasta, rice, and quinoa.
- Nuts and seeds such as almonds and pumpkin seeds.
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