Tried and Tested: We give DNAfit's a new SnapShot home blood-testing kit a go
DNAfit first made a mark on the home-testing scene a few years ago, amid growing interest in personalised wellness and the role of genetics in general health. Their kits enabled people to collect a saliva sample at home and post it off for analysis, to produce a tailored DNAfit report on aspects of diet and fitness.
It's not an exact science, nor was it ever intended to be a diagnostic tool. The aim was to provide people who are keen to live healthily with a greater depth of understanding on what approach might be most optimal for them.
Since then, a few more testing kits have been added to the roster, the latest being SnapShot (from £69, dnafit.com) – a home blood-testing kit that looks at 17 blood markers across five key health categories: Lipids, vitamins, inflammation, liver function and iron.
So, what exactly is SnapShot all about? Here's what we found out...
How does it work?
A SnapShot kit is sent to you in the post. When I receive mine, it contains a needle-prick device for collecting the small blood sample required. However, DNAfit is taking steps to update the kits to include a 'TAP device' instead, making the process even easier (these should hopefully be available later this autumn). Instead of having to prick your finger and then collect your blood in a vial, TAP is a small plastic device that will do all the work for you.
When TAPs are available, you would remove the back cover, stick it to your upper arm, press the button on the front and a very small sheet of tiny needles is deployed to prick the skin's surface. Blood is automatically collected into a vacuum chamber, with a red light indicating when you've got enough. You peel the TAP off your arm, put the back on again, and post it back to the lab in the return envelope supplied.
What do the results reveal?
Once your blood is analysed, a SnapShot report will be produced which you can access on your DNAfit profile online. Visually, the information is really easy to navigate and digest, with a coloured scale showing where your result sits within the normal (low-high) range, along with a short written summary, an indication of how your genetics may be relevant, and lifestyle tips that could help you maintain a healthy result. Each section comes with a list of 'healthy habit' suggestions, based on evidence from research relating to the general population.
It's important to remember, again, this is not a diagnostic tool and can't give a 'full picture' of your health. However, if any of the results are concerningly low or high, DNAfit will suggest you follow up with your GP.
The categories they've chosen to focus on, plus the sub-categories within them (for example, the vitamins section only looks at folate, B12 and vitamin D), are a balance of what DNAfit is technically able to offer as a home-testing company, and what they deemed most relevant to the average person. For instance, we know vitamin D deficiency is rife in the UK during autumn and winter. We also know lifestyle-related diseases, like heart disease, and very common.
For me, the lipids section is perhaps most interesting, as there is a history of heart disease/stroke in my family.
Thankfully, my results are all comfortably within the healthy ranges. But being able to see the ratios and how the different results interplay, alongside how my genes could play a role (for example, there are indications of how your body might respond to alcohol, and certain specific dietary factors), gives an indication of just how important healthy lifestyle choices are for me here.
So is it worthwhile?
DNAfit says the main demographic for its products is people aged 35-60s, who are comfortable using technology, conscious of their health, and proactively seeking information that could support their healthy lifestyle choices. And that's the key here really.
SnapShot, as with all DNAfit products, won't take the place of a doctor and, much of the time, probably won't reveal anything massively ground-breaking – but it can shed light on areas you may benefit from focusing on.
A lot of the 'healthy habits' suggestions are common sense but for those who are interested in knowing more about how their lifestyle might interplay with their genes, SnapShot provides an extra layer.