Articles on: Interpreting your results

What f-scores should I strive for?

'What f-scores should I strive for?'

The FoodMarble CX team is often asked the question 'What f-scores should I strive for?' by those who are struggling with high fermentation levels and battling daily symptoms. Each time, we explain that the answer isn't clearcut.

Firstly, the goal shouldn't be to get to zero. While you may experience less symptoms when your f-scores are low, we need to think about our amazing gut microbiome and how to take care of it.

Fermentation and the Gut Microbiome

It's important to aware that gases are produced directly during fermentation by the bacteria in your gut. Bacterial fermentation is normal and healthy. In fact, it helps to keep our body and gut in good shape. However, it becomes problematic if a rapid build-up of these gases occurs, as it can cause bloating, pain and other symptoms.

Each person's gut is completely unique and the composition of the gut microbiome may vary significantly from one person to the next. Several factors influence the diversity and composition of an individual's gut microbiome, including: diet, age, genetics, geography and environment, antibiotic use, as well as lifestyle and habits.

We tend to think of variation in our digestion as being mostly driven by our genetics, but this is actually a relatively small factor in what makes us digest food differently. Each of us has a radically different array of gut microbes and it’s these microbes that are the biggest factor in how well we tolerate different types of food.

So, what might a healthy person's scores look like?

A healthy person who has never experienced bothersome gut issues may see a wide variation in their fermentation scores over the course of a single day. Depending on what they've eaten, their gas levels could fluctuate from low to high between their breakfast and lunch, and return to low in the afternoon before rising again in the evening. The big difference for this fortunate individual is that they don't have a sensitive gut and the gasses released as a byproduct of the fermentation process may come and go, without the person ever experiencing any symptoms, other than mild flatulence perhaps.

Balance is key

A person who follows a strict low FODMAP diet may see a significant reduction in their fermentation levels and symptoms. However, as anyone that has followed the low FODMAP diet knows, FODMAP-containing foods can be hard to avoid. Foods that normally form part of a healthy balanced diet, like dairy products and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, often also contain FODMAPs. Studies have shown that although maintaining adequate nutrition on a low FODMAP diet can be challenging, it is possible with the right advice. However, this does not mean you should remain in the restriction phase of the diet any longer than needed. Finding your triggers and personal tolerance for them is so important for gut health.

Visceral Hypersensitivity and Symptoms

Those of us with gut issues are often more sensitive to the build-up of gases in the gut. This is known as visceral hypersensitivity. However, each person has a unique symptom threshold. This links to how much gases you can tolerate before experiencing discomfort. You can find yours by keeping tracking of how your symptoms change in response to your breath levels. If you’re feeling good after a high score, it means you have a pretty good tolerance. However, it’s best to not to ever overload your gut with too much fermentation after every meal. Remember fermentation is healthy but balance is key.

Updated on: 29/11/2023

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