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Best DNA Test for Health + 6 Things you Need to Know

Written by Samantha Odake, BS | Last updated:

DNA testing has grown in popularity in the last few years. What is the best DNA test for health? Read on to find out 6 key factors to consider and what are the top 3 DNA tests for health.

Important: Personalized health report services, such as SelfDecode, enable users to obtain detailed information and reports based on their genome. These companies do not treat, diagnose or cure any conditions, but are for informational and educational purposes alone unless otherwise specified.

What is a DNA Health Test?

DNA health tests are tools that analyze a person’s genes and look for changes or differences in their genetic code. These variations can provide you with a wealth of information about yourself, including physical and mental health analyses.

This informative article will take you through the most important elements of all DNA health testing services. While suggestions are made here, readers are encouraged to do their own research on the services that will fit them best.

6 Important Elements of a DNA Health Test

  1. Personalized Recommendations: Which foods are best for your genetic profile? What about supplements, allergies, or nutrient deficiencies? Receiving recommendations that are generated just for you can be the most important part when choosing a DNA test for health.
  2. Physical Health Analysis: Physical health and DNA are linked, but we are not simply defined by our genes. The first step is learning which genes impact your physical health.
  3. Mental Health Analysis: Mental wellbeing is a necessary component to improving quality of life and happiness. What can DNA health testing do to improve mental health? 
  4. Privacy: Releasing personal health information requires the highest level of integrity and data security. Always look for companies that will never sell or give away your genetic data.
  5. Pricing and Service Quality: Finding an accurate DNA health test at a fair price can be a challenge, this section will compare some of the top performers, and some hidden gems.
  6. Ancestry/Carrier Status: Understanding where and who your genes are from can result in potentially life-changing revelations about your health.  

Personalized Information and Recommendations

Obviously, what we put in our bodies is essential to overall health. But are there frustrating health concerns that you cannot get to the bottom of? Could the solution be in our genes all along?

Many DNA health testing companies offer diet recommendations based on specific genes that have been linked to metabolism, nutrient processing, and dietary intolerances. Some companies will bombard the user with genetic correlations of these categories listed above, which are not very helpful unless one is well versed in the relevant scientific literature.

Many customers are eager to learn more about how their diet can be improved by understanding their genetic profile, but they do not have the time to read dense scientific papers for hours a day. 

Some companies such as SelfDecode provide actionable information and recommendations to each user without all the technical jargon. For healthcare professionals or the scientifically curious, SelfDecode embeds scientific references throughout their reports.

  • Upload your DNA for free to SelfDecode to experience the app

Additionally, a holistic analysis of DNA that looks at what is good for both the specific health area being analyzed and the specific genes. This would also include recommendations for supplements and lifestyle advice. A holistic approach is the best way to know which recommendations will help you obtain optimal health.

Physical Health Analysis 

Physical health is tightly linked to your DNA. As genetic research continues at a rapid pace, more genes are being identified with certain physical characteristics and health outcomes. Some examples include pain perception, cortisol levels, and enzyme encoding genes listed below:

  • The SCN10A gene –  associated with increased sensitivity to pain.
  • The SERPINA6 gene – linked to lower levels of cortisol, an anti-inflammatory hormone, and thus associated with chronic pain issues.
  • The FAAH gene – Some variants increase FAAH, which isn’t what you want. This is a gene that encodes an enzyme that breaks down anandamide, a cannabinoid with painkiller effects. Less FAAH = more anandamide = less pain.

Some companies such as Viome, a gut microbiome testing company, seek to combine DNA analysis with more advanced microbiome analysis. Read more about Viome in this review to see if it is right for you.

By understanding what genes you have that are problematic or beneficial to your physical health, you can use this information to improve your quality of life. The very best DNA testing companies will provide an additional service, such as the lab analysis tool offered by SelfDecode, for a complete picture of your health.

Mental Health Analysis

Physical health is just one component of health and wellness. Mental health and wellbeing is an extremely important piece of the puzzle when it comes to optimizing your health, and your genes play an important role. For example, anxiety and genetics are interconnected. Your genes can affect hormone levels, like dopamine and serotonin, which are critical in determining happiness and anxiety levels.  

Best DNA Test For Health

Markedly, there are DNA testing companies that focus almost exclusively on mental health and genetic links. For example, Genomind is a company that claims to analyze your DNA and generate mental health reports. Read more about it in this full Genomind Review.

Other companies choose to take a more holistic approach to health. Your mental wellbeing can greatly influence your physical health, and vice versa. To illustrate this point, let’s look at gut health and stress. Stress can have a negative impact on gut health. It may:

  • Increase inflammation
  • Increase leaky gut
  • Disturb gut bacteria

People with Irritable Bowel Disease tend to have more flare-ups when stressed. Notably, people with a particular CRHR1 gene variant may be more prone to stress. Taking special care to reduce stress may help people with this variant reduce gut inflammation.

Privacy Concerns and Data Security for DNA Tests

Privacy should be a top priority for anyone seeking a DNA test. Personal health information must be shared with the testing company in the form of blood, cheek swab, saliva, or other methods so the DNA can be analyzed. This information is private and should be treated as such by any respectable DNA testing company.

Personal health information can either be stored confidentially and secured with advanced encryption, or sold and given away to third parties. Importantly, some major DNA testing companies have partnerships with pharmaceutical companies that intend to use your personal data for their corporate purposes.

Make sure you do your research by checking out some reviews on the most prominent DNA testing companies that look deeply into their privacy policies.

Ancestry/Carrier Status

Understanding your genes includes more than just links between certain mental or physical health outcomes, or dietary intolerances. Sometimes, we can be carriers of diseases that are totally unknown to us. These are called recessive traits, meaning that they are not physically expressed but can certainly be given to children through our genes. If you have a recessive gene, you could be considered a carrier of a disease without even knowing it.

Accuracy of genetic testing for these recessive traits is paramount, and all users of any genetic testing service should contact a healthcare provider for advice, treatment, or diagnosis of any diseases.

Pricing and Service Quality

Value and Service Quality

When searching for the best DNA health test, consider what you would like to receive when you subscribe to the service or order the tests. Would you like to be offered a wide range of suggestions with a service such as SelfDecode, encompassing both mental and physical health, including diet? Or is a more focused service that only gives specific advice on a single topic acceptable to you?

Another key metric related to value is how many genes or SNPs are analyzed. Many companies claim to analyze the entire genome of the customer. But Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) is far from perfect. Whole genome sequencing means that the test examines almost every gene within the genome, which is roughly 25,000 genes. 

Currently, only a limited number of SNPs have been studied by scientists, so only a small portion of the results from a whole genome sequencing test can provide you with any meaningful information. As more research in genomics is done, WGS will inevitably become more useful. However, there is no way to know how long it will be before that happens and by the time it does, it is entirely possible that even more advanced and accessible testing will be available. 

At this time, you are getting very little for the significant extra cost required to have WGS done. Other DNA tests on the market are more focused on the SNPs that have actionable insights attached to them, so they provide essentially the same end result when it comes to health information.

Plus, by using a process called genetic imputation, some companies can predict variants not included in the DNA file. For example, SelfDecode uses cutting-edge AI and machine learning to predict and analyze up to 83 million genetic variants from a typical DNA file. Unfortunately, some companies only analyze a handful of SNPs per DNA report, possibly leaving out many that can influence health and providing an incomplete picture of your health.

Watch the informative video below to learn more about how genetic imputation works.

Pricing

When you are searching for a quality service, value is essential. DNA testing companies vary widely in their fees, quality of analysis, and insights. Companies charge a wide range of prices, some costing thousands of dollars.

Good value for DNA testing for health relies on two main factors: accuracy and range of recommendations

Accuracy can be understood by the number of genetic variants analyzed and references to scientific studies to support claims. As discussed previously, there is a great number of variants that can influence a particular health topic. For example, SelfDecode looks at tens of thousands or even over a million variants per report, while other companies only analyze one or two SNPs. If you already had your DNA tested, you can upload your file to SelfDecode for free to experience the platform before committing to a plan.

Access to a practitioner network can be important to understanding reports that are generated for you but could be filled with jargon. Practitioners can also cross-reference anything in your reports, and conduct reviews of the most recent and relevant literature to make sure all of the information you receive is accurate.

A range of recommendations can be seen when looking at what the companies offer. It’s worth noting that most DNA providers only offer generic and superficial health recommendations that are often not tailored to your DNA, falling short in providing truly personalized health. 

Top 3 Best DNA Test For Health

In this session, we’ll outline 3 companies that offer the best DNA tests for health.

  • Best all-around: SelfDecode
  • Best for health + ancestry: 23andMe
  • Best on a budget: Promethease

SelfDecode

SelfDecode has a different approach than other health DNA tests. Instead of focusing on one single health aspect, SelfDecode offers over 150 DNA wellness & trait reports covering a variety of topics such as chronic pain, gut health, skin health, mood, anxiety, stress, and many others.

While most companies only analyze a few genes related to a particular health topic, SelfDecode looks at over 83 million genetic variants (up to 1 million+ per report). SelfDecode uses cutting-edge AI and machine learning to provide the most accurate genetic predisposition scores and personalized diet, lifestyle, and supplement recommendations based on DNA.

SelfDecode has a team of over 60 highly skilled PhDs, MDs, NDs, and software engineers to sift through the scientific literature and provide the best DNA test for health and reports supported by the latest scientific research.

If you already had your DNA tested, you can upload your DNA and lab results to SelfDecode for free to get started.

23andMe

23andMe offers direct-to-consumer genetic testing for health and ancestry analysis. Customers can choose from three different services:

  • Health or Ancestry only
  • Health + Ancestry
  • 23andMe+ Membership

23andMe health tests cover a decent number of health topics, and they include links to the scientific studies used to generate the reports. As a downside, the company does not offer personalized health recommendations. Rather, they provide general advice to address a specific health topic.

When it comes to ancestry, 23andMe boasts one of the largest databases, so customers are able to learn more about their ancestral roots and discover new relatives.

Promethease

Promethease offers a DNA analysis service for a lower cost. The health reports are based on an uncurated database of research on genetic variations and provide information on your genetic risks for many health conditions.

Promethease falls short when it comes to personalized health recommendations. The massive amount of information provided can be difficult to navigate, and it may take the average user some time learn how to use their platform. But for the price point of $12, it may be something you would want to consider if you already have an understanding of genetics.

Comparison

 

SelfDecode

23andMe

Promethease

Personalized & holistic health recommendations

Yes

No

No

Products

Free DNA and lab analysis, DNA testing, wellness reports, research-based personalized health recommendations, traits, patient and provider options

DNA testing, health and ancestry reports, traits

DNA analysis, health reports

Genes & genetic variants analyzed

Up to 83 million genetic variants

~640,000 SNPs

~100,000 SNPs

Raw data upload

Yes

No

Yes

Raw data download

Yes

Yes

No

Focused on privacy

Yes

No

No

Cost (USD)

Start free

$99 – $199+

$12

Conclusion: What is the best DNA test for health?

As mentioned throughout this article, the six main factors of personalized recommendations, physical and mental health analysis, privacy, ancestry/carrier reports, and value should be considered when selecting the best DNA test for health. This article provides in-depth information regarding each of these categories and handy comparisons of the top companies in the industry.

After carefully reviewing the top 6 things one should know about DNA testing for health, there cannot be a unanimous victory for one specific company. Rather, potential customers should think deeply about what they want in terms of their health goals and choose a DNA test that will help them reach those goals.

For those who already had their DNA tested, they can upload their file to SelfDecode for free to get started.

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About the Author

Samantha Odake

Samantha Odake

BS
Samantha is an engineer turned writer with a passion for helping people.

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