23andMe Review

Whilst healthy living is important, following marriage and becoming a parent the significance of this fact has become more apparent.

So I’ve decided to make more conscious decisions to explore different ways to maintain a sound body as well as a sound mind.

We all have 23 pairs of chromosomes in our bodies, and I wanted to find out more about mine, through the DNA testing carried out by 23andMe.

There’s two kits:

  1. Ancestry Service: £79
  2. Health + Ancestry Service: £149

I was mainly interested in the health side, so I went for the Health + Ancestry Service.

It’s an easy process from start to finish. I received the kit where I provided my saliva sample and sent it back to their lab in a pre-paid envelope. Then you register your details online and fill out a questionnaire which took at least 20 minutes.

The DNA results can take 8-10 weeks. But from receipt of the DNA kit to receiving my results was much shorter at 5 weeks.

Results:

The report is published online which is quite easy to access and print out, but being abit old school I would had preferred to receive the results in a bound paper report which in my opinion would had given a more personalised feel.

My report was organised into the following subsections:

  1. Ancestry (5 tests)
  2. Carrier Status (42 tests)
  3. Genetic Health Risk (7 tests)
  4. Traits (22 tests)
  5. Wellness (8 tests)

For my ancestry the African element wasn’t a surprise, but it was really interesting to see the mix of White European, East Asian & Native American in my genetic makeup and learn more about this.

Due to privacy reasons I’m not disclosing specifics of the health results but as a summary, the Genetic Health Risk Report gives an indication as to whether you have specific genetic variants that can influence your risk for certain health conditions, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Celiac diseases etc.

As a word of caution, the results noted in the report aren’t a guarantee, it just highlights potential risks from your DNA, which are also dependent on different lifestyle factors. What I found useful was it then gave me something tangible to talk to my Doctor about.

In the traits section, one thing I questioned was it said I was less likely to have a widows peak. Well my hairs thinned abit but I’ve had one since my youth. For those who don’t know, a widows peak is a pointed hairline which originally earned the name “widow’s peak” because they resembled the shape of a hat Victorian women wore in mourning.

Whilst this is a small discrepancy, it’s not a deal breaker for me.

In the Wellness tests, I liked the fact that it highlighted something that I need to better manage which is my weight. It calculated that someone of my weight should weight on average 90kg/200lbs which I have done in the past. But due to the volume of my marathon training, which consists of running seven days a week my weight has reduced to about 80kg.

The report highlighted a number of factors for my underweight, one was that people who exercised daily weighed up to 16.1% less than those who exercised less than once a week.

The final point I’ll discuss from the report is that it reported my genetic muscle composition is common in elite power athletes, such as sprinters.

It’s important to note that whilst you can be born with favourable genes for your chosen sport, it means nothing without hard work and the support of other people.

I quite like the fact that I’m not a natural long distance runner, and I wasn’t very good at it for a long time. But with consistent training I started to see some breakthroughs and achieve a sub 20 minute 5k, a sub 40 minute 10k and a sub 90 minute half marathon.

It goes to show that if you run, your a runner, and we come in all shapes and sizes.

Conclusion:

I sought out the product as I want to make better and more conscious health decisions based on my genetics so I can be as healthy as I can for my family.

One thing not included in the report which I’d like to see, based on the feedback regarding my weight would be more tailored information to understand specific recommendations of how to maintain your specific healthy weight. Secondly understanding what exercises are best for you and which ones aren’t. Thirdly to know what specific foods work best for you, and knowing what foods aren’t. Which takes out the guesswork and the following of generic plans which don’t work for everyone.

Overall I’ve found the 23andMe report extremely useful, its strengths are highlighting health risks and helping me understand more about my genetic heritage which it has done. This will help me to make better decisions moving forward, and I’d definitely recommend giving 23andMe a try.

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