By now you’ve probably heard musings of DNA testing and how it’s being used to used screen for genetic traits that people might have. Medical institutions have used the technology for decades to see if people have a likelihood of suffering from various illnesses or diseases. It can help evaluate biological risks that can be treated early or used a warning system to help people modify their lifestyle.
Recently the granularity of the tests has seen the methodology used to look into more detail about certain genotypes. By screening against large samples medical professionals can see the things those DNA patterns have a higher likelihood of being affected by.
Rightangled, a company using DNA profiling, invited me over to test it out and see how the process works.
What is it?
As well as screening for DNA profiles, Rightangled are a service that uses cardiologists and personal trainers to review the genetic data about an individual and produce insight and guidance on how to act upon it.
How does it work?
Probably the best part of it is the fact that all you need to do using the kit is take a swab from the inside of your mouth and send it back in the post. No visits to a surgery or complicated procedures – especially good for those people that don’t like a visit to see a medical professional. You also have an online questionnaire to fill in to help the specialists understand any lifestyle behaviors when building the diet and fitness plans.
Once you’ve sent back the sample, it took about two weeks to receive the results back via the online portal. Once you have them you have access to a tailored plan for how best to use the data to improve your lifestyle and diet. You also have access to those professionals to query anything or ask questions about the plan itself and any concerns you might have.
There are four main tests to choose from, each offering specific information on that area: Women’s Wellness, Fitness DNA, Heart DNA and Wellness Pro. The Wellness Pro offers pretty much everything included in the other tests, and it’s the one my swab was used to report back on.
What information do you get?
To be honest I’ve heard of tests like this before and wasn’t expecting a great deal of useful information back. However, after receiving a notification email and logging into the online portal I found a shedload more that thought was going to be on there.
The report breaks down the elements into the fitness DNA and heart DNA elements but opens with a list of everything the specialists deem as being important information. In my case, there was a list of twenty areas of concern based on my DNA profile. Here are some of the main ones.
Scary stuff, but in most cases for me, as I’ve spent a lot of time learning to understand how my body is affected by fitness and diet, not that surprising. I probably assumed a number of the reporting elements already, but it is interesting to have it clarified in a report that backs those assumptions up. If I wasn’t as clued up on those parts of my life I’d have probably been a lot more worried about the list.
Having said that, there were a number of things which were very interesting, and factors that I hadn’t even thought about before. Things like an increased likelihood of Achilles tendinopathy and increased alcohol metabolism both struck a cord, but suddenly seem logical when I thought about it. Essentially, I’ve always known that I have a high likelihood of putting on weight, but it’s good to have some scientific information on the various causes of this to start using as actions if I needed to.
The individual reports going into great detail about every area of concern in the test, explaining what the points mean, how they’re worked out and the general measures you can take to minimise the risk. My recommended exercises for Achilles tendonitis was:
“You should consider gentle stretches of the Achilles tendon before exercising and improve the length of the warm-up and cool down periods.
You should consider switching to a low-impact (on the Achilles tendon) sport such as swimming or alternate between high (e.g. basketball) and low impact sports to reduce stress on the tendons. Additionally, consider changing to footwear with appropriate cushioning and arch support such as motion control shoes or orthotics when running.
You can stretch and strengthen the muscles in your feet, shins and calves to prevent injury to your Achilles. Sit on the floor with a weight strapped to the front of one of your feet. Bend your knee at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your heel on the floor, lift the weight by pulling your toes towards you, lower the weight back down and repeat. Swap feet.”
All stuff I’m aware off, but for someone with less knowledge, a sage piece of guidance.
That’s the more general stuff. The really useful element comes from the prepared plans by the specialists. From the PT I received a 10 page training plan covering eight weeks of nutrition and detailed workouts. For me, maybe not quite so useful – although some of the insights covering workout types I should do were spot on. For someone new to workouts and diets, it’s a great way to get a well devised plan based on a specific person. Having looked through the workouts and methodology used to create it, it’s very nicely put together.
The section produced by the doctor on health risks associated with my tests is shorter but was clearly written using all of the data available. I haven’t previously suffered from any health issues, however, the risks highlighted are not only useful from a lifestyle point of view but could also be stored and used for reference if I was every consulting a doctor about potential issues.
You also have the ability to easily send a message to the specialists on any point in the reports via the online tool.
How much does it cost?
The tests vary between £119 for the Fitness DNA test, £149 for the Heart DNA test and £199 for the full Wellness Pro – although all of the plans are currently on offer at the moment, so expect to pay a bit more once that ends.
Is it worth doing?
I was actually really surprised about the level of detail received from the tests, especially for the price. DNA profiling when it comes to these sorts of screening is an area that’s clearly going to become bigger and bigger over time. Rightangled are already working with the NHS on the project and the whole thing is CQC regulated, so it has a fair amount of legitimate clout.
For someone like me, who spends a lot of time understanding diet and fitness, it may not be quite as useful – although to be honest reading what I have done from the reports, I’ll definitely use some of the information in future. For someone completely new to fitness and diet planning, it’s a great service and really helps to draw attention to potential areas of concern. The eight-week fitness plan is also a great way to have a professional develop a personal plan just for you.
For more information on Rightangled, head over to the website – there’s a lot more information on it.
Note: I was invited to take part in the test process with Rightangled free of charge.