In the past few years, there’s been a simultaneous rise in wellness and in DNA testing; this tiny piece of our body, constructed of codes, unveils genetic secrets and can predict the future of your health or reveal your heritage.
Find yourself bloating every time you eat a certain food? Maybe you’re tired all the time and don’t understand why. Perhaps you’re gaining or losing weight but wish you weren’t, and struggling to find any answers?
On a more serious note, did your parents or grandparents have a serious disease or illness that you’re worried could be hereditary? Are you unwell, and worried you might pass that illness on to your children, genetically?
DNA Health test kits can answer all of these questions and reveal even more, bringing peace of mind, answering difficult questions and helping you prepare for the possibility of an illness in your future.
What Is A DNA Health Test?
DNA testing kits can open up a whole wealth of information about your body and its needs, as well as your future health and the potential for illness. The results given are both simple and informative, but could have serious repercussions.
Your potential for illness, whether you carry certain genes, have any allergies or intolerances, are deficient or have too much of certain nutrients and what diet is best for you can all form the basis of a health test, but each service offered is different.
More expensive tests tend to have a lot more detail, providing specifics about an extended list of subjects and offering out more advice, whilst the economical options focus on the most popular research endeavours.
Why Get a DNA Health Test?
There are a number of reasons why you might be considering a DNA health test, some of which you may not have considered and could influence your decision if you’ve been thinking about one for a while.
Improve your lifestyle
More elaborate health kits offer extensive recommendations for improving your way of living in key ways, according to research conducted on those who share your genetic makeup.
Of course, eating a balanced diet, sleeping the right amount (not too much, not too little) and getting your vitamins in is advice everyone should follow, but by performing this simple test, you can get nutritional and exercise plans tailored to your body.
Likewise, if you believe you are lacking in specific vitamins, you can save yourself the hassle of puzzling out which tub you should pick out by discovering which supplements would actually benefit you, not just waste your money.
Reduce health anxiety
Just as finding out you’re more predisposed to a certain disease or carry a gene that your children inherit can be distressing, if your results indicate the opposite, this can massively reduce any anxiety or upset you might have about your health.
Though this is not a shield to protect you from disease and you still need to live your life healthily in order to prevent certain illnesses, if you’re worried you’ve inherited an illness from your parents or are likely to, it can be greatly relieving to find out you aren’t.
If your test results indicate that you’re genetically predisposed to a condition, illness or disease, it might not always be possible to stop that from happening, but there are actions you can take in light of finding out that could decrease your chances.
Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or reducing your intake of alcohol and red meat are difficult at the best of times, but if you’re spurred on by an increased likelihood of getting sick, you might find yourself cutting out those bad habits much quicker.
Learn more about yourself
Are you one of those people who can’t handle caffeine, or thinks coriander tastes like soap? It’s suggested that these personal preferences can actually be influenced by our DNA in many cases, so a test can reveal a number of fun biological facts.
In 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration announced plans to allow DNA testing laboratories to get accredited more easily, which seems to suggest their support of the process, or at least that they aren’t especially harmful to customers.
Making the tests more accessible insinuates that the potential downsides or harm caused by DNA services are not quite enough of a cause for concern to minimise the public’s usage of them.
Protect your children
By checking whether you carry a gene that influences whether or not you are prone to a disease, like for instance early onset Alzheimers, you can find out whether your children are also likely to be predisposed to it, and whether or not they should also get tested.
This can help you as a family prepare for potentially difficult, upsetting and testing situations by knowing what might happen and establishing what can be done to make your lives as easy and healthy as possible.
Scared of needles or being poked and prodded in other comfortable ways? Don’t worry, you’re not alone, and a DNA test kit is reassuringly simple and unobtrusive, not at all painful, and you can perform it on yourself.
What Do They Check For?
DNA kits will vary from provider to provider in what they are searching for (or looking for an absence of, as the case may be), but typically, you can expect to receive results for several key tests.
What one service offers could completely differ to another’s package, so check out these potential areas of feedback to find out which results you’d be most interested in receiving or would benefit from.
In order to determine whether you carry a gene associated with particular genetic disorders, carrier screening is conducted. This normally will not impact you directly, but could be passed to your biological children.
Traditionally, if both parents happen to be carriers of a gene known to cause a disease, this would result in a twenty five percent likelihood of your current and future children inheriting the DNA that provokes these diseases.
By performing these important screening tests, you can work with your partner to somewhat reduce the risks of inheritance in your children, or prepare for the future in which they develop the disease and need support.
Illnesses that might be passed on through reproduction include hearing loss, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis and early-onset Alzheimer’s, some of which can have significant effects on one’s quality of life, so knowing about any risk in advance is always beneficial.
Genetic health risks
A DNA health test does not serve as an official medical diagnosis; rather, it outlines your potential risks for developing common hereditary conditions, and should be examined with your general practitioner or alongside a trained genetic counselor.
Your predisposition to diseases such as breast and colorectal cancer, cognitive impairments like early-onset Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons or gastro-intestinal diseases such as celiac is likely to be outlined.
A couple of traits your DNA might have can be used to perform reports that reveal information about, for instance, your nutrition and exercise needs and limits, amongst other lifestyle factors that can affect your health.
Remember, these recommendations should be read and followed at your own risk, after consulting the advice of your family doctor or a professional nutritionist. Lifestyle and environmental factors can also heavily influence the outcome of these tests!
Exercise-wise, wellness reports can indicate your risk of injuries when working out and what kinds of activities to avoid, as well as your body’s optimal exercise response, and what kind of periods you can expect for recovery when injured.
As for your nutrition, your DNA test can also reveal your personalised nutrient needs, highlight any specific food sensitivities and intolerances, and can also come with an optimal diet plan for you to follow.
Also investigated is your body’s response to stressful situations, which could be reassuring if you find yourself getting very easily wound up or experiencing symptoms of anxiety and palpitations at the slightest inconvenience.
Sleep reports can also indicate how likely you are to experience REM or deep sleep, which can determine your quality of rest when you’re sleeping and why you might still be tired despite getting a full eight hours!
What Makes A Good Health DNA Test?
When deciding which of the many, many DNA testing companies you should put your faith into, we recommend researching each provider you’re interested in thoroughly, and according to these parameters:
DNA testing can cost a pretty penny, especially as the technologies used to perform the exams become even more advanced and reveal information we’ve never dreamed of. Before hitting the purchase button, ask yourself: is it worth it?
Will you find yourself inundated with secret fees and hidden costs, like the price of shipping or receiving your results? Do the reviews of other customers suggest that you get what you pay for?
Remember as kids we would spend our pocket money on a cool gadget from a comic book, like X Ray Specs, then sit by the door for weeks waiting for that amazing new spy gear to arrive, only to be sorely disappointed by the plastic that showed up?
Don’t make the same mistake with your DNA test - always ensure you’re working with a reputable company, who can keep the promises they make and provide the services they set out to give customers.
Is your chosen provider using the most up to date, accurate, efficient technology available to perform your test? How often are their gene chips upgraded in accordance with contemporary scientific advances happening all the time?
By seeking out a test that utilises the latest and greatest tech, you’ll have access to the maximum amount of information about yourself available at the moment, thereby making the money you spent (and the DNA you sacrificed!) worthwhile.
What format are your test results presented in? Being presented with huge blocks of text using industry jargon and overly-complicated language is nobody’s idea of fun; why would you want to spend your hard earned money on something you can’t interpret!
Likewise, if you’re particularly well-acquainted with the sciences and would like some really in-depth calculations, numbers and figures to pore over, will you receive the level of detail you’re expecting?
Should there be any issues over the course of your test, from taking the swab and mailing it off to receiving and understanding your test results, you want to know there is a dedicated team you can rely on to support you when needed.
An easy way to find out if you’ll be able to depend on a provider for help if you need it is to search social media for customer feedback and reviews of their products, as it’s likely the reviews on their websites will be skewed to reflect their best elements.
Concerns about the selling-off of private data to third-party companies have risen just as quickly as the art of at-home DNA testing, so guaranteeing the safety and security of your data is an absolute necessity.
How Accurate is DNA Health Testing
DNA testing typically takes the shape of a saliva swab, which you use to take a sample from your mouth - being sure not to get anything else on it! - and send off to the laboratory, receiving your results after a specified period.
It’s possible to compromise your sample, for instance by eating, drinking, smoking or brushing your teeth before you perform the test, which could sway the results or prevent the test from being performed altogether.
Likewise, choosing a reputable test provider is important to ensure that they are using up to date technology, their processes have been accredited and their laboratory follows the industry guidelines to provide the highest possible standard.
How to perform your swab properly
Each provider does things a little differently, so always read the instructions carefully and follow them exactly. Most DNA testing kits take the same form, so here’s our simple guide to getting it right.
Get prepared: it’s easiest to do this as soon as you wake up, before you have your breakfast, brush your teeth or enjoy a morning coffee. Eating, drinking or putting just about anything in your mouth can impact on your results.
Open up the kit. It’s been hermetically sealed to prevent contamination, so wait until you’re just about to do your swab to make sure it stays clean.
Gently rub the tip of what looks like a cotton bud against the inside of your cheek - don’t apply too much pressure, as you’re aiming to get saliva - this is important.
Immediately place the swab in the plastic pot provided, ensuring you follow the guidelines and snap the stick where the instructions direct you to.
Complete any documents, being sure to sign everything you are required to, filling in forms honestly and as clearly as possible.
Where Can You Get One?
The majority of DNA testing kits are purchased online, so you can easily check out a variety of providers, find one that suits your needs and pick out a test to be shipped to you in the comfort of your own home.
Some pharmacies or drug stores, like your local Boots, have simple at-home testing kits for you to pick up in-store if you prefer; these are usually much cheaper to pick up and, as such, not as dependable as other services.
Some services have phone operators available to talk you through their packages and take payment details to purchase one on your behalf, but they might be encouraged to upsell the more expensive tests to everybody, even people who don’t need them.
It is possible to get a DNA test from your doctor, but these are usually only performed if there is a cause for concern regarding your health or a need to find out if you are a genetic carrier, so you may have to pay for the service at your GP or privately.
Health Tests - Who’s Who?
As already mentioned, there are so many different DNA tests available. The following is a list of key providers of DNA Health kits in particular that we believe offer a reputable, reliable service to customers.
- Bupa SmartDNA
- Fitness Genes
As with everything, there can be negative consequences when it comes to getting DNA tests, whether for health, ancestry or other purposes. This is not to say you shouldn’t get one, only to be aware of exactly what you’re signing up for.
Whilst research into the impact of DNA testing on the user’s mental health and wellbeing is limited as offering the practise as a marketable product is fairly new, psychologists have outlined some possible negative side effects.
Discovering that you might be more likely to develop an illness or disease can be a difficult piece of news to process, with the anxiety and upset you can feel as a result increasing the more serious the ramifications of becoming unwell are.
Likewise, if you’re informed that you are a genetic carrier for a particular disease, it could impact on your desire to have children as you might not wish to pass it on, and this may also lead you to experience symptoms of depression.
Of course, there’s no guarantee your results will have this outcome, and by learning about your potential for a condition or genetic predisposition you can take steps to prepare yourself and, in some cases, prevent them altogether.
Any and all medical tests conducted in the United States should obtain accreditation for their laboratories through the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, a federal program that determines their legitimacy.
However, it’s possible to produce a fake of absolutely everything these days, so amongst the official testing companies there loom fraudsters looking to take advantage of concerned or excited customers and scam them out of money.
Always make sure to check that the service you’re intending to use has been validated by the correct agencies and follows their guidelines - a well-intended supplier will have this clearly stated on their websites, but check the FAQ and small print if not.
The risks of false test results range from inconvenient to dangerous, as they could imply a likelihood of an illness that is not there or a deficiency you do not have. It may also be that you are susceptible to a disease the results say you are not, which may be harmful.
Doctors that provide DNA tests are on-hand to answer any of their patients’ questions clearly outlining any potential cause for concern, or they might even put them in touch with a genetic counsellor who can talk them through the results.
When you receive a mail-order DNA test’s results, there’s no professionals immediately reachable to discuss your outcomes with, and they might be difficult to understand. As we have advised, it’s not always possible to depend on customer service.
Be prepared for the possibility that you could need assistance with knowing what your results mean and which steps to take or adjustments to make to best suit your newfound understanding of your body.
We have already discussed the potential privacy breaches that might occur when using a DNA service; although a company can try their best to prevent data theft, cyber security is not impenetrable and you should be aware of this risk.
A reliable provider will likely have implemented measures to keep your DNA data safe, so make sure you compare your options to ensure you’re being protected adequately and running less risk of your private information hitting the net.
DNA testing ranges in price, with the most popular offerings ranging from between fifty and a hundred and fifty pounds, depending on the complexity of the plan you’re purchasing and extent of the tests performed.
Depending on your reasons for performing a health test and the necessity of paying for one, consider the price of each test versus the level of detail the results will provide and their accuracy.
Not 100% reliable
DNA tests cannot give a one hundred percent accurate result in terms of your risk for developing a certain genetic disease, as the human body is fickle and unpredictable, so your results are not definitive and subject to change.
As such, you might be exposing yourself to psychological harm and paying a considerable amount of money for a result you cannot depend on wholeheartedly, so it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it or not on that basis.