Articles on: Interpreting your results

Your Results: Hydrogen & methane

Bacterial Fermentation in the Gut

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. Fermentation only becomes problematic if a rapid build-up of these gases occurs, as it can cause bloating, pain and other symptoms.


An important point to keep in mind is that hydrogen levels tend to be more responsive to what you eat. This makes hydrogen more useful for assessing which foods you can digest best.

When it comes down to it, before now, it hasn’t ever been possible to measure hydrogen and methane levels day-to-day. This means that it’s not yet known by the scientific community what to fully expect and what the levels of hydrogen and methane will mean for you. You’re exploring new ground. By tracking what you eat and how you feel, along with your breath measurements, you can better understand your unique digestive system.


Most people have methanogens in their gut. These are a type of microbe that can convert hydrogen to methane. The more methanogens you have, the more methane will be produced. The number of methanogens increases with age, but also relates to diet, ethnicity and factors like medications.

Despite most people having methanogens in their gut, it's important to be aware that you must have a certain amount of methanogens in your gut in order to produce enough methane that is detectable in the breath. Therefore, some people may see no methane in their breath test results.

There’s evidence that methane can act as a ‘neurotransmitter’ to slow down your digestion, which can be a factor in constipation. If you have constipation from time to time (or all the time), paying attention to methane levels could be helpful.

Your doctor might prescribe anti-microbials to reduce the amount of methanogens. What can often happen in this case is that your methane levels go down but your hydrogen levels shoot up. This makes sense, as to create a single methane typically requires 4 hydrogens, which means that the methanogens can actually be reducing the overall amount of gas in your gut.

Visceral Hypersensitivity & 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: 07/12/2023

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