One of the more interesting products to develop in the biotech and health space over recent years is the rise of at-home DNA testing kits.
You’ve likely heard of some of the most popular brands before being advertised online and maybe you even received a kit as a gift over the holidays.
Learning about what your family came from and what areas of the world you can trace yourself back to are both fascinating. But have you ever wondered if they can be used to help improve your healthy lifestyle?
Let’s take a look at what they are, what you can learn from them, and how we can implement that knowledge to make informed decisions about our health for the future.
What Is At-Home DNA Testing?
As the name implies, at-home DNA testing is a rising trend of products that allow users to get their DNA tested and analyzed without needing to go to a lab.
This is typically done by supplying a sample of saliva in a small tube mailed to you that is then labeled and sent to a lab for testing.
After the lab finishes analyzing the sample, you’ll typically get results mailed back and often get access to an online login and dashboard explaining more details about what was discovered.
Why Do People Do DNA Testing?
Some of the reasons why people usually do at-home DNA testing are:
To Be Proactive About Their Health And Wellness
At-home DNA testing can provide personalized information about your health, disease risk, and other traits.
It can help you learn more about your genetic predisposition to certain conditions and take preventive measures or treatments accordingly.
To Discover Their Ancestry And Genealogy
At-home DNA testing can reveal your ethnic origins, geographic regions, and family history.
It can also help you connect with relatives and ancestors that you may not know about.
To Resolve Paternity Or Other Family-Related Issues
At-home DNA testing can confirm or exclude biological relationships, such as fatherhood, maternity, or siblinghood.
It can also be used for legal purposes, such as child support, inheritance, or immigration.
Home paternity testing is a simple and affordable way to get accurate results without involving a third party or personally going to a lab.
To Satisfy Their Curiosity And Have Fun
At-home DNA testing can offer insights into your personality, appearance, preferences, and talents.
It can also reveal interesting facts about your traits, such as eye color, taste buds, or sleep patterns.
What Are The Results I’m Getting Back?
When it comes to the results you get back, it all depends on what you’ve purchased and what company you’re using.
The most common DNA test kits on the market right now (the one you most likely got as a present), will give you information about your ancestry.
Things like where your DNA comes from and composition are standard in the reports and include percentages of what populations your ancestors were a part of and even timelines (see what a sample DNA report looks like here).
However, there are also health-centered kits that provide an incredible amount of useful information beyond your family history.
Some tests give you information on not just your ancestry, but four other sections including health, pharmacogenomics, carrier status, and lifestyle attributes.
Results from this type of whole-genome sequencing can offer insights about:
- How different medications may or may not be compatible with your genes (pharmacogenomics).
- Tests for genetic variants that are known for causing or leading to disease (health).
- Whether you’re a carrier for specific genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis (carrier status).
- And even how your personal genetics may affect your dieting, exercise, sleep, and other components of your lifestyle.
Knowledge Is Power
If you’re interested in DNA testing for more than just your ancestry, there’s a plethora of information that researchers can harness from just a sample of saliva.
In return, you can take advantage of that information to make changes in your own lifestyle to improve your healthy living.
If you and your doctor are able to discover that you have a genetic variant known for leading to disease later on in life, then you have the advantage of addressing the issue far before it ever introduces itself.
Alternatively, learning more about how your personal genetics impact your success with different diets, exercise routines, and sleeping schedules means you can custom-tailor your daily habits to get the most out of everything you do.
Not only will you know more about your ancestry, but utilizing the wealth of knowledge in your DNA could potentially make developing a healthy lifestyle that fits far easier than ever before.
If you’ve been on the fence about DNA test kits and didn’t know whether they’re worth it, consider all the health benefits that can be drawn from them as well.
While not all companies offer extensive full-genome sequencing, there are a handful of labs offering it and it could completely transform the way you think about personalized health — they’re not just for learning about how much Neanderthal DNA you have!
How curious are you about your ancestry and your health history? Would you take a DNA test? Or did you already take one? What happened? Let us know in the comments below.