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Personalized diet and training, plus knowing whether you have a chance for developing breast cancer, diabetes or certain vitamin deficiencies is only a swab test away

Genetic testing has traveled much farther than revealing what region of the world your ancestry goes back to. A small DNA sample can now give you clues to not only your current state of health, but also to conditions you may be predisposed to.

Knowledge, however, comes with responsibility. Having data of your own health gives you the power to be able to do something about it. You become responsible for making conscious decisions based on what your genetic make-up is. Therefore, you can more effectively optimize your body, mind and overall wellness.

Various genetic testing companies have specialized in testing your genes to discover basic metabolic functions, health risks, hormone levels or even bacteria in your gut. I took a few swab tests, saliva tests and even a stool test to see which at-home kit will give you the most valuable personalized health information.

Keep in mind that genetic testing isn’t destiny and certainly not diagnoses, but rather an analysis of your potential in certain areas of your life. These companies base the results and recommendations on research associated with a specific gene that’s been studied to have a particular outcome with a sample of people.

For example, most women, who’ve developed breast cancer, tested positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene variation; therefore, those who carry that have an increased risk of developing the disease in their lifetime.

Having personalized data of your body may be the first step to optimizing your overall well-being. Here’re six at-home tests that can provide you with valuable clues to understanding your health better.

23andMe

This brand was first known for revealing your ancestry composition, meaning what nationalities make up of who you are. They’ve expanded to now offering more than 125 reports including health predispositions, personal traits, data on your sleep, food metabolism as well as weight. Once you receive the 23andMe kit to your home, you’ll collect the sample, which is required in form of saliva — spitting in a tube. Everything is provided along with a prepaid envelope to send in for analysis. You’ll receive results through an online profile in about three to four weeks.

The results you get are very in-depth and provide a lot of information on each gene tested. Instead of just telling you that you were lactose intolerant, you can look at the scientific details of what specific gene variant causes you to be, and what changes you might want to make in your lifestyle and eating habits to best live according to your genetic make-up.

The wellness and lifestyle-related results were good, but I found other genetic testing companies giving rather more accurate results and explanations on dietary markers.

What stood out with 23andMe was its testing for health predispositions and what diseases you might be at risk of developing in your life. My stress levels definitely increased before looking at those results. I couldn’t stop thinking, what I’d do if I found out I was at risk of having breast cancer at some point. It was a scary moment. Thankfully I didn’t have the variant, but there have been women who after finding out their increased likelihood, have had preventative mastectomy done. What would you do?

Buy now, $149

Viome

Lots of research have been showing the importance of bacteria in your gut, and how microbiome health can be crucial to overall well-being. Viome sequences, analyzes and identifies trillions of active microorganisms, their pathways, and functions in the gut, looking at the RNA, not the DNA.

All that with a small stool sample in hand — well, in the hand of an AI machine. It runs your sample through an AI engine, then with expert analysis and peer-reviewed scientific literature, it can give you recommendations of what foods and supplements are ideal for your gut microbiome to reach optimal health. You can also find out how many cultures and species of bacteria you have in your gut and whether you have any viruses, fungi, yeast or parasites present.

It turned out I had very few species, so I have some work to do to colonize more bacteria and boost the activities of the good ones. So I started supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics immediately. Bloating after certain types of food, all of a sudden made perfect sense.

That knowledge can be powerful because a lot of gut issues go unnoticed. Not to mention, foods that don’t go well with your microbiome can cause low-grade inflammation that may lead to autoimmune diseases. What you experience on the surface, be it food intolerance or frequent bloating, may be because your gut bacteria aren’t able to efficiently digest certain ingredients.

Knowing what your superfoods are and what you should avoid can help you make better choices at the grocery store and at restaurants. Viome categorizes foods by vegetables, proteins and fats, fruits and grains, and herbs and spices, tell you serving recommendations and if something is beneficial to you or is your kryptonite.

Buy now, $199

Fitness Genes

If I told you there’s a way you can get better results from working out and dieting, you’d be all ears, wouldn’t you? Genes can affect the way your body responds to certain ways of exercising and dieting along with its ability to burn fat and build muscle.

Knowing what gene variants you carry can help you optimize your workout and diet regime. Fitness Genes gives you exactly those clues through a saliva sample. They analyze 40 genes and more than 600,000 gene variants. Based on your results you’ll receive tailored nutrition and workout recommendations that you can incorporate into your life. Plus, each week they reveal a new genetic trait and how it’s present in your body.

What I liked about this test is that it provided detailed insight into each result, a video explaining the role of that trait and actions to ways you can best make use of that daily. For example, it showed that I had a great ability to recover between workouts, so I can easily aim to exercise five to six times a week. Being aware of that data, I know that my body can handle working out most days of the week without risking overtraining.

Buy now, $199

Orig3n

Humans are 99.9% identical. That 0.1%, however, makes a huge difference as to who you are and how your body may respond to the environment around it. Different sequences and genetic codes in your DNA can reveal how efficiently your body can build muscle or recover after exercise.

Orig3n uses a swab test to collect a sample of DNA — it’s quick and easy. It offers several tests looking at genes associated with beauty, fitness, diet, behavior or even child development. I took the Fitness and Nutrition tests and got quite a comprehensive look at genes that influence food metabolism, joint health, power performance and vitamins.

The results show which gene they analyzed and what pathway you carry — meaning whether you inherited that gene from one or both of your parents. Based on those results, your online profile also includes a detailed explanation of what it all means, how you can make better choices based on that information, as well as study references that back up that conclusion.

You’ll have an online profile, and you can also see your results on their app. This test doesn’t automatically provide you with a guidance coach, but their customer service is available if something didn’t make sense for you.

Buy now, Nutrition test: $149 ; Fitness test: $149

Üforia

Üforia takes personalized nutrition to the next level. They don’t only give you guidance but will create a customized supplement based on your genetic results.

Majority of us don’t get the recommended amounts of vitamins and nutrients from our food, so we are often advised to supplement with a variety of vitamins or a multivitamin. There are, however, many that are low-quality and are made in a way that our body can’t fully absorb their active ingredients.

Prior to receiving your customized supplement, along with the testing kit, you’ll receive what is called, a “Pretrition”, a pack of veggie caps containing a blend of minerals, enzymes and herbs that are meant to prepare your body for supplementing with your customized vitamins.

If you’re not used to taking vitamins and being consistent with it, it might take time to get used to taking six capsules every day. It’s just a warm-up because, you’ll be advised to take ten capsules of the actual individualized supplement you receive. You can break it up throughout the day, though.

The idea behind customized supplementation is to provide your body the right nutrients and the right amount, so you can maximize your health. Üforia’s test looks at 18 actionable genes which you inherit from either or both parents. In the case of all of the analyzed genes, there is some action you can take to compensate for the changes in the biochemical pathway.

Buy now, $159.95

DNAfit

DNAfit uses a swab test to identify your unique nutrigenetic profile to help create your ideal meal plan. Plus, with their most recent bundle, the Health Fit test, also looks at fitness response genetic markers based on which you can create an effective workout regime. They also added a combination of the latest genetic research to help you optimize your sleep and stress resilience.

After the lab is done analyzing your sample, you’ll have a personal consultation to help you interpret the results and learn of ways of incorporating changes into your daily life.

When it comes to diet, the test will shed light on nutrient needs, sensitivities and intolerances, as well as an optimal diet type, so you can say goodbye to jumping from FAD to FAD without any long-term benefits.

On the other hand, the fitness test offers an insight into your likelihood of injury, your recovery profile and how your body responds to endurance versus power training. I, for example, found out that according to my genetic make-up, I may get better results with a higher emphasis on power training as oppose to endurance. No wonder I’ve always preferred doing high-intensity interval training to long-distance running.

The breakdown of each report is very straightforward and easy to understand. DNAfit uses a lot of visual elements to clarify what certain results mean and also offer a 12-week diet and training program.

Buy now, $164

Verdict

Understanding your biology and personal potential is a powerful way to optimize your health and change the environment around you. These genetic tests provide you with a comprehensive look of several different aspects of your life. Comparing and contrasting the results, I found that tests that looked at the same genetic marker, for example, carbohydrate metabolism, reported the same results.

That gave me the confidence to trust the results. Orig3n, DNAfit and Fitness Genes provided information to very similar genetic variants. Considering the pricing, out of these three, DNAfit and Fitness Genes were the two that offered a more user-friendly and more in-depth explanation as part of their online profile and gave the option for a personal consultation.

That can always be useful. Some of these health results can be very confusing, and you might not have the time or the energy to go out of your way to do the research yourself.

Üforia definitely stood out with creating your own customized supplement. If you haven’t developed a vitamin regime, this could be a good way for you to start and see how your body responds.

Viome was different. While DNA tests give you an indication of how your body might respond to certain stimuli or stressors, the Viome test puts a magnifying glass over your gut microbiome and RNA. I found it important to know what and how many good and bad bacteria you have in your gut because this is something you can change. You can colonize more good bacteria and boost their activity which then can improve your metabolism, prevent gut issues and boost your overall well-being.

I wouldn’t recommend 23andMe for fitness and diet testing, but it’s definitely the go-to test to find out about health predispositions.

Both DNAFit and Fitness Genes work with 23andMe, so if you have done 23andMe before, you can just upload your data to their platform.

All of the companies claim that with your consent, they’ll only use your genes for their research purposes, so your data will never be sold to outside parties.