I struggle with a whole host of fun stomach issues. I have Crohn’s Disease and also many food intolerances & sensitivities. I, like many, react poorly to high FODMAP foods. As much as I adore garlic and onions, they are the bane of my stomach’s existence.
I have a lot of trouble understanding my ever changing stomach’s needs. So often I will swear I am eating “safe” foods, yet I still look 6 months pregnant with bloating while also being in a lot of pain. Pinpointing my problem foods is a full time job, and that’s why when I heard about the Food Marble I was instantly sold. It’s this cute little gadget which is marketed to be an at home food tracker. It makes use of a breath test to see if the food you ate did or did not agree with your body. It helps track problem foods & makes it much easier to see which foods have trouble digesting properly.
“Hydrogen breath testing is available in the best hospitals in the world. We miniaturised the technology and made it accessible to everyone. When you eat something, it travels through your stomach and into your small intestine for absorption. If it's not fully digested, the remainder continues on to your large intestine where the bacteria start to break it down by a process called fermentation. Hydrogen is only produced during fermentation. This hydrogen makes its way into the bloodstream and begins to circulate around the body, moving to the lungs. Once it reaches the lungs, the hydrogen is exhaled on your breath. When you breathe into your device, you can measure the level of hydrogen at that time.”
So to summarize, this breath test is done via the device, and it tells you how high your fermentation score is. The higher the fermentation = the more hydrogen in your breath. This indicates a food which is not jiving well with your body.
I was so so excited for this item I actually pre-ordered it, then I waited patiently to receive it. Finally in early December it arrived. I instantly got it out of the box and did a test which showed that I had very low fermentation. I ate a safe meal for dinner that day, so it made sense. The instructions come with satchets of FODMAP’s which you can drink to trigger a reaction. This is useful to test or calibrate your device, or if you are someone who is unsure if FODMAP’s affect you.
I can already confirm I am FODMAP sensitive, but I still wanted to test things out because I’m curious by nature. I ate a lot of high “no-no” foods, and after that I expectedly had mass amounts of bloating, pain, acid reflux & stabbing knife aches all over. I used the Food Marble every 30-60 minutes post meal and not once did I get an elevated result. In fact, I got “very low” each time. Very low, as you can see, shows up as just a small little blip because it’s about 0.1-0.3 and it’s so low it barely registers. How is this possible? I have no idea.
At this point I realized my device didn’t work. For whatever reason it very clearly wasn’t matching up to what it should be. I was bummed, but figured I would reach out to customer service for some trouble shooting. This device comes with a 1 year warranty if it’s not working properly. Although they don’t give you any info as to HOW to get ahold of someone, which I already found a little worrisome.
Well, to say that it’s near impossible to get ahold of Food Marble support would be a massive understatement. For the last few weeks I have tried every avenue of contact with the company multiple times. I have used their “contact form” online. I have sent emails to TWO different departments. I have tried their online chat in their help section. I have tried it all. Almost daily I was resending an email. I even DM’d them on Instagram. Radio silence. Not even a simple “sorry were overwhelmed with requests, we will get back to you.” Nada.
Their online chat function let’s me know someone definitely saw my message, but didn’t care to reply. I’m also pretty positive that they have gotten my multiple emails. It’s frustrating when you pay $150 for a device, and then 0 customer support after the fact.
This led me to search online to see if I could find any unbiased reviews which actually show a real patient using the Food Marble. Guess how many I found? Zero. So now the question becomes, how legit is this? It would be so easy for them to sell this device and then vanish when any issues arise. Good luck fighting with your bank to get that money back. Oh, and their base is located overseas, so double “good luck” to get a cent of your money back.
With all the customers complaining of issues it’s irresponsible to continue selling units until the glitches are ironed out in the existing batch of units. Any company that holds such a low standard of operation holds no regard for their customer base either. Be careful if you’re thinking of giving them $155 because you might end up with a chunk of plastic and a hole in your bank account.
I’m really bummed to have to write a crummy review, but I have to be honest. Exploiting sick patients who don’t have extra money to spare & then knowing that they can’t touch you because you are overseas (and don’t take PayPal), is really low.
I don’t recommend this device, and further don’t recommend this company. I will update this post accordingly if I ever get a reply back from them, and if I ever get my Food Marble working. If they step up, fix their customer service issue, help me (and others), and repair the device then I will update my post with all of that info. This post will be totally honest and transparent every step of the way.
As many of you saw in the comment section below, Lisa (one of the co-founders of the Food Marble) reached out to me to talk via a phone call. We did speak for about an hour and I will fill you all in on what we discussed and what the plans are moving forward. But to give you the full picture, a little bit before Lisa formally reached out to me I got an email back from customer service. They told me my device was working fine and maybe I just eat too fast and get a lot of air in me which is why I'm bloated after some meals (not due to any other underlying process). I explained that no I had Crohn's, I'm sensitive to FODMAP's and it has nothing to do with trapped air. This convo wasn't really too productive, so I am glad that Lisa jumped in to help bridge the gap. I will go point by point to make this easy for you all!
1. Lisa explained that as a new start up they got very overwhelmed and behind when they launched, which is why it took so long to get replies. I explained that a simple status update on their Facebook/Instagram/Twitter page to tell customers this info would have made a big difference in the trust of patients. She agreed and said if that happens again they will do so. She also said a good email to use for help is firstname.lastname@example.org. Their turn around time for response is 1-2 business days (not counting weekends), but if they get a promotion or advertisement which drives interest this could flood their emails and set them back a bit. But typically 1-2 days.
2. In Lisa's comment below & also in the email I got from FoodMarble customer support I was told that my device was checked and tested to be working well. This confused me (and others) as to how they could test my device from a far. I inquired about this and Lisa explained that each FoodMarble device is calibrated before it is sent out. It is calibrated with different levels of hydrogen to make sure it is properly measuring, and all of that info is logged into their database. Then, when a customer has an issue with the device they are able to look back at the customers past breath measurements (stored in the device history), and compare those readings to info from their database. Basically they compare the info they have during calibration to the info from the patients testing to see if they line up. I hope this makes sense!
3. Here is a portion of Lisa's comment below which I got a lot of questions about: "I can see that when our engineering team looked at your device data, it showed to be operating normally. There can be other scientific reasons for not getting a high response, which are quite rare, but I wonder if that's what's happening here. For example I wonder if you are in the small minority of people who do not produce breath hydrogen."
So what does it mean to not produce breath hydrogen? Well, it turns out that there are some people who have gut bacteria that makes methane instead of hydrogen. In those cases the FoodMarble would not work because it is calibrated only to record breath hydrogen. So if you are someone who doesn't produce hydrogen then this device will not work for you.
In my case I explained to Lisa that I did do a hydrogen breath test in the past for SIBO and therefore I am quite certain I produce hydrogen because I got a positive result. So for me, it didn't seem like that would be the hiccup, but we decided to properly test it. She is sending me a Lactose packet to take a proper hydrogen breath test (like the ones you do for SIBO), to see if that triggers anything in the device. I will let you all know how that goes when I receive the packet and do the test. This is coming from Ireland so I don't know when it will arrive, and I am currently in the middle of a flare with my health so I don't know when I will feel up to the breath test (as it typically makes me pretty sick to my stomach). But hopefully in the next few weeks I will have some info to update on that.
I inquired further about non hydrogen producers and asked if someone buys a FoodMarble and doesn't know that they don't produce hydrogen (and the product doesn't work for them), if they can return it for a refund. She said at the moment, no. And thats because they are a start up and its too much of a cost to eat for them. They are looking into ways to make it fair for the consumer and to remedy it, but at the moment there is no way to get a refund if you find out you are a non-hydrogen producer. If you have done a breath test for SIBO in the past make sure you check your paperwork to see if you produced methane or hydrogen, because the new SIBO tests typically look for both.
4. The last part of our plan is to have someone else I know eat a high FODMAP meal and take a breath test at 1 hour and 2 hours post meal to check my current device that way. I don't have anyone close to me who has digestive problems, so I am unsure if this will work, but Lisa said that often even those without GI issues will produce hydrogen in response to FODMAPs. I will be trying this in the coming week or two as well as I can. She is also sending me a new device to swap out and see if it works better. I will update on both counts when I have some answers!
I had someone I know eat a high FODMAP meal full of beans, garlic, onions and all the works. They then did a breath test on my original device (the one I believe is defective) at the 1 hour and 2 hour mark post-meal. The readings were 1.2 and 1.5 which are both very low.
I will now disconnect this original device from my phone and sync up the new device and will try using it myself for a week to see how it responds. Then I will again have someone I know eat a high FODMAP meal and test this new device out in the exact same manner. I will update this post accordingly.