Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

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Grumble
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Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by Grumble » Mon Aug 03, 2020 7:47 pm

I’ve just been advertised Foodmarble on Facebook, it’s a gadget that claims to help you find out about food intolerances.

https://foodmarble.com/

I thought that rather than dismiss it and move on I would do the properly skeptical thing and try to read the website first. It seems that the device measures hydrogen in the breath as an indicator of how much fermentation is happening in your gut. This is, as they claim, “Based on validated clinical technology.”

“Based on” is a bit a phrase I’m always suspicious of. They have conducted what seem from the abstracts to be proper trials, linked to from here: https://foodmarble.com/how-it-works

It seems like their gadget does perform similarly well to a bench top tester, and could therefore be used to perform diagnostic tests with some degree of confidence, although I’m not experienced in reading papers. However when I look at what hospitals do for these tests, they are normally conducted after a fast (amongst other conditions), which I don’t think is the case here. See for example: https://www.hey.nhs.uk/patient-leaflet/ ... eath-test/
(Incidentally I found that leaflet after following a link from their FAQ, https://help.foodmarble.com/en/articles ... t-used-for, 2nd link in the article, which it turns out is actually a google search!)
I suspect the detail of methodology is quite important and is the difference between a lifestyle test and a proper medical test, never mind if the equipment itself works just as well. If you succeed in making kit smaller and more affordable why stop at selling it to medical people who will use it properly? Why not sell it to anyone who can afford it and become part of the Wellness sector? Maybe I’m stepping past skepticism and becoming cynical.
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

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sTeamTraen
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Re: Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by sTeamTraen » Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:12 am

Hydrogen breath testing is a thing. But it's not clear to me, from a brief scan of these two articles, what the benefit to the average food intolerance punter of knowing their levels might be. I can imagine it might be useful if you have IBS, though.

The first two people on the "head honchos" page have PhDs, both in electrical engineering; I couldn't find out if the CTO is similarly qualified. The "CMO" is a gastroenterologist, which is at least the right specialism.
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Grumble
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Re: Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by Grumble » Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:52 am

On a Facebook comment they did mention a 12 hour fast before test, so maybe I missed it on the website, perhaps they are sticking more closely to the medical methodology than I thought. I’m still sceptical of putting a medical test in people’s hands but perhaps that’s my prejudice. If they talk through the results with a dietician or whatever it might be useful
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

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Grumble
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Re: Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by Grumble » Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:54 am

They claim that the hydrogen sensor doesn’t need recalibration. I have hydrogen sensors at work that need recalibration every 6 months - and they aren’t lab instruments but portable personal detection alarms
I know this is vitriol, no solution, spleen venting, but I feel better having screamed, don’t you?

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Re: Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by dyqik » Fri Aug 07, 2020 12:19 pm

Grumble wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:54 am
They claim that the hydrogen sensor doesn’t need recalibration. I have hydrogen sensors at work that need recalibration every 6 months - and they aren’t lab instruments but portable personal detection alarms
That might be ok, because of the different applications.

Safety detectors have to be absolutely calibrated and stable, so that slow build-ups (and depletions in the case of O2) can be detected. A breath tester is more of a differential measurement - measure background level, then measure the level while the subject is breathing out. The signal is modulated by the subject breathing out, and so you don't need long term stable calibration.

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Re: Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by jimbob » Sat Aug 08, 2020 11:52 am

Grumble wrote:
Tue Aug 04, 2020 7:54 am
They claim that the hydrogen sensor doesn’t need recalibration. I have hydrogen sensors at work that need recalibration every 6 months - and they aren’t lab instruments but portable personal detection alarms
Are they based around electrochemical cells?

In a previous job, we used such ones in carbon monoxide fire detectors and used to test them with hydrogen.
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by Cardinal Fang » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:01 pm

Perhaps someone could answer for those of us less knowledgable about such thing - is fermentation in the gut bad in the first place? And is hydrogen gas a marker of it in the first place?

When I make kimchi and the like, it releases carbon dioxide. Not hydrogen. I'm kinda assuming any fermentation in the gut would be anaerobic

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Re: Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by shpalman » Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:15 pm

Cardinal Fang wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:01 pm
Perhaps someone could answer for those of us less knowledgable about such thing - is fermentation in the gut bad in the first place?
Well, it's uncomfortable, if a lot of gas is produced. And a sign that the nutrients aren't being absorbed in the usual way.
Cardinal Fang wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:01 pm
And is hydrogen gas a marker of it in the first place?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_breath_test
molto tricky

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Re: Is this good science or pseudoscience? (Food intolerances)

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Aug 10, 2020 11:09 am

shpalman wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:15 pm
Cardinal Fang wrote:
Sun Aug 09, 2020 2:01 pm
Perhaps someone could answer for those of us less knowledgable about such thing - is fermentation in the gut bad in the first place?
Well, it's uncomfortable, if a lot of gas is produced. And a sign that the nutrients aren't being absorbed in the usual way.

There’s Auto-brewery syndrome, which “is a rare medical condition in which intoxicating quantities of ethanol are produced through endogenous fermentation within the digestive system.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auto-brewery_syndrome

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