It all started with one mission: to discover DNA-based biohacks that will help people optimize their health. It’s been more than 2 years since SelfDecode was founded, and we have some exciting updates in store. Read on to learn more and to hear what our scientists have to say about the future of genetics-targeted health.
SelfDecode as an Ever-Improving DNA Analyzer
SelfDecode was founded back in 2016, but it took one year of DNA research and development before we made the software available to the public. The tools behind SelfDecode allow users to take a deep dive into their DNA, look at specific genes (and the SNPs linked to them), and use these insights to optimize their health.
Back then, SelfDecode was only a fraction of what it’s grown into. In our beginnings, we worked with databases and algorithms to help people map out their risk and suggestions. In the meantime, our team and knowledge have expanded. We’ve also received a lot of valuable feedback from the SelfDecode community that guided us.
We decided to do some of the mapping out for our members and make DNA analysis as simple as possible. That’s why we’re excited about our recent updates: the new Symptoms and Conditions Analyzer, an interactive SelfDecode Tour (along with a Genetics 101 tutorial), and the Sleep DNA Wellness Report.
We want to help everyone make the most out of SelfDecode and get an easy-to-understand summary of their genetic information.
“So far, everyone who has used the program has told me that it is the best genetic analyzer around.” said Joe, back in 2017. And what got Joe into all this was precisely the fact that he couldn’t get fully healthy before he understood his genetics.
He read through hundreds of scientific studies to realize that there are lifestyle, supplement, and dietary changes specific to certain genetic pathways. Having worked with over 1000 clients, Joe saw a lot of people unconsciously go “against” their DNA, sometimes activating the exact pathways they should be silencing.
What Makes Us Different?
We have all watched companies spread false claims, present consumers with only small fractions of the scientific information out there, and misuse it to sell their own supplements. As with all big discoveries, DNA tests can be used to help people achieve and understand more or to simply dumb them down.
And so we didn’t want to belong to the latter. SelfDecode set out to be different: more comprehensive, 100% science-based, and unbiased. Joe carefully screened for individuals with strong scientific and clinical backgrounds in genetics, pharmacology, nutrition, pharmacy, neuroscience, and neuropsychology. The end results is a team of Ph.D.’s, pharmacists, and nutritionists that think differently and approach things from a new perspective.
We include almost every possible clinically-validated condition and symptom in our tools. We look at every gene and SNP that we have scientific information on. Our DNA Wellness Reports can take up to 6 months to create because we include hundreds of genes and SNPs in each one. We reference every claim or suggestion with scientific studies.
But we also know that understanding your genetics is not easy. The fact that we had experts work together on these tools added a layer of complexity to them. We are now taking this layer, which contains a goldmine of information, and translating it to the public. And that’s where our new tools and DNA Wellness Reports come in.
We want everyone to understand how their DNA can shape their health — no advanced degree required.
Welcome to the New Symptoms and Conditions Analyzer
We have released the new and updated version of our Symptoms and Conditions Analyzer, under our Personalized Genetics section. This is the place where users can enter the symptoms they are experiencing or the conditions they have been diagnosed with. Our system will then display all the user’s genes and SNPs that could be contributing.
For example, if you suffer from severe anxiety, have chronic sleep issues, and mild allergic symptoms, you can enter them all into the analyzer. By marking how severe your symptoms are, our system will prioritize genetic information linked to your more worrisome issues. Then you can go into the genes that increased your risk in the first place and view natural suggestions on how to counter them.
We have received some requests asking about our Symptoms and Conditions Analyzer. Many of our members got used to the older version of this tool. However, we decided to take all the feedback we received about its drawbacks, and design this optimized version. While we were making all these changes, we took the old tool off because this version needed a lot of improvements.
We created an interactive tour of SelfDecode that covers:
- Using SelfDecode for the first time, which goes over how to set up your account and file, and covers all the basic tools and how to use them for the first time
- Making the most out of SelfDecode, an advanced sequence to the intro, which goes over more complex genetic analysis, such as saving individual SNPs and finding gene-specific suggestions
- Genetics and Health 101, which explains all the essentials for genetics in an easy-to-understand way. We cover what DNA is, what genes are, how SNPs and alleles work, understanding risk scores, and more.
You will be automatically directed to this tour when you subscribe and log in to SelfDecode. You can skip to certain sections, or go back to it at any time to rewatch certain parts.
Genetics can seem uninviting at first. But we actually think it’s a lot of fun.
For example, did you know that all humans share 99.9% of DNA, but there still are millions of differences between you and any other person? It is these unique genetic variations that can influence a variety of health conditions.
Did you know that the DNA molecule is stored in almost every cell in your body and that all of your cells have the same DNA? And while the DNA in each cell would be over 6 feet long (2 m) if stretched out, it’s tightly packed and condensed in your cells.
Did you that each gene contains a set of instructions, but the genes can vary in length? Some genes are very long (2 million letters) and others are much shorter (a few hundred letters).
Unlike the videos we previously had, this tour is interactive and covers everything our members have been asking about. As you go over the tour, you can click through the tools to make sure you know where to find everything, and see genetic analysis in action for the first time.
People often talk about being night owls or morning larks, some can never sleep after drinking a cup of coffee in the early afternoon, while others can drink coffee at night and fall asleep just hours after… And others can’t fall asleep and get a good night’s sleep almost no matter what they do. But did you know that your DNA can have a strong impact on these traits?
For example, some genes can increase your likelihood only of so-called “caffeine-induced insomnia”. If you’re one of them, then you should certainly avoid coffee or green tea in the second half of the day. The reason behind could be the activity of your caffeine-sensitive receptors (P2RY2). Being more sensitive, you would want to make sure you’re not over-stimulating your body with caffeinated drinks.
On the other hand, you may be getting high-quality sleep, but still feeling tired and sleepy during the day.This could be because you break down less of the natural sleep-inducing molecule, adenosine (ADA SNPs). With more adenosine in your body, you may feel sleepy during the day, no matter how much sleep you get overnight.
Several interesting genes can set our circadian rhythm, the internal clock our bodies use to sense what time it is. The most well-known ones are CLOCK, PER1, and CRY1. If your genes misalign your internal clock from your environment, you may find yourself staying up until late, getting poor, fragmented sleep, and then sleepwalking through the day.
Most genes that impact sleep are heavily involved in maintaining overall brain health. Some affect neurotransmitter levels (dopamine via DRD3), the cannabinoid system (CNR1), or the growth of new brain cells in adults (neurogenesis via BDNF). Certain variants in the ApoE genes increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea. And these are only some of the genes we looked into. In fact, the Sleep DNA Wellness Report covers 65 SNPs, 17 of which are important for insomnia!
With this report, we want to help people get better sleep and prevent sleep disorders in the long run. The Sleep DNA Wellness Report covers:
- Sleep quality
- Sleep duration
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Teeth grinding
- Restless leg syndrome
Get our DNA Wellness Reports package (Introductory, Cardiovascular, Inflammation, and Sleep) and a SelfDecode membership for only $117.
Want a sneak peak? Take a look at examples of our DNA Wellness reports with Joe’s DNA file:
- Introductory DNA Wellness Report
- Cardiovascular DNA Wellness Report
- Inflammation DNA Wellness Report
- Sleep DNA Wellness Report
Coming soon: Vitamins, Minerals, and Mental Health DNA Wellness Reports
We have two categories of DNA Wellness Reports coming soon: Nutrigenetics and Mental Health.
Nutrigenetics is a new science that explores the interplay between your unique genetic makeup and your nutrition. Genetics can have a profound influence on the way our bodies use nutrients. Our genes impact how nutrients are absorbed, transported, activated, and eliminated in the body.
Recommended daily allowances you see on most supplements, foods, and even when you go to the doctor are in no way adapted to your individual DNA. Some people may be predisposed to low B12, folate, or iron. Others may not absorb vitamin C as well. Nutrigenetics can match the nutrients you consume to your genetic makeup to establish a healthy balance in the body [R].
With this goal in mind, our next DNA Wellness Report will focus on Vitamins. We’ll take an in-depth look of how genetic variations can influence your vitamin levels. We’ll present you with your unique nutrigenetics profile, along with what vitamins and vitamin supplements your body needs the most.
The Vitamins DNA Wellness Report will cover:
Plus, we included a Vitamins Wellness Food List that sums up the best food sources for each vitamin.
But vitamins are only one segment of nutrigenetics. Next, we have essential and non-essential minerals reports coming up!
Mental Health DNA Wellness Reports
The field of mental health is in desperate need for a change. Many of the current conventional therapies address mental health only partially, and are rarely individually tailored. On top of that, the benefits of nutrition, lifestyle, and natural supplements often get overlooked.
But new scientific discoveries are changing this. We now know that:
- Genetics can have a big impact on one’s risk for developing mental health disorders
- Genetics can point to the possible underlying cause of the disorder
- This cause may be addressed through individualized lifestyle, diet, and supplement interventions
These new discoveries sparked enthusiasm and curiosity in many practitioners and patients. We’re excited when we hear from a practitioner who wants to use SelfDecode to help patients overcome mental health problems. Some customers told us they were able to hone in on specific natural interventions, as opposed to being recommended thousands of useless supplements.
It’s still not commonplace, genetics is entering the mental health arena.
We’ve also received several inquiries from our users who want to know more about what their risk for certain mental health problems means. Seeing that you are at increased risk for one of these conditions can be frustrating and confusing at first.
“The best way to go about interpreting your risk is not to take it at absolute value. My advice to SelfDecode users would be to look at the potentially bad SNPs* in their DNA Wellness reports and then focus on the natural interventions that can best mitigate it. Just because certain SNPs may point to increased risk, this in no may means that you will get the disorder. Instead, this points to a predisposition, which you can take into consideration in biohacking your health.” advised Ana Aleksic, MSc (Pharm), Chief Science Editor at SelfDecode.
“Your risk SNPs tell us something about which biochemical pathways are weaker links and are more likely to not to function as well. It means that the recommendations specific to those pathways would be more beneficial for you in general.” she added.
*SNPs are small genetic variations in the DNA that can impact the activity of genes. They typically have the letters “rs” and a number, such as rs1049353. This SNP is linked to the cannabinoid receptor gene (CNR1).
Some people simply may not want to know, and we understand that. But others will take this information to learn more about themselves and use their genetics to their advantage.
This is the actual strength of DNA-targeted health. For example, some variations in the cannabinoid receptor SNP mentioned above (rs1049353) are protective and linked to reduced risk of depression under stressful circumstances. Other variations could do the opposite. Or, you may be genetically predisposed to lower serotonin levels, putting you at risk for depression and other mood disorders. We then take a look at natural interventions that impact the potential cause of the imbalance.
In fact, this is where nutrigenetics and mental health come together are give us a complete picture. Some vitamin-related genetic variations can also impact the brain and mental health.
Thanks to our scientists, we now have a database of thousands of SNPs linked to mental health and brain function. The first mental health-focused DNA Wellness Report we will release will focus on depression and low mood.
But we have others in the pipeline, such as Anxiety and Mania & Bipolar Disorder. Another group of our DNA Wellness Reports will cover Cognition, Memory, Learning, IQ, and various aspects of brain health!
From SelfDecode Scientists
We believe that a new era of health is upon us, one in which the use of our unique DNA can help inform us about how to overcome chronic health issues.
“The use of genetic information presents an interesting, exciting, and empowering approach in helping one achieve optimal health and wellness. SelfDecode is at the forefront of making personalized nutrition and medicine a reality. We go beyond analyzing someone’s risk for developing certain traits or conditions, and also give actionable, easy to implement suggestions on how someone can overcome their genetic predispositions.” concluded Jonathan Ritter, Pharm.D., Ph.D., one of the leading scientists behind SelfDecode’s DNA Wellness Reports.
Don’t Have Your DNA Data Yet?
We recommend getting a DNA test with Ancestry, as our DNA Wellness Reports include the SNPs that are on the latest version of the Ancestry chip.
However, you can still use data from other genetic testing services, such as 23andMe, MyHeritage, and FamilyTreeDNA, if you prefer — just be aware that not every testing company might include each and every SNP that we analyze in our DNA Wellness Reports.
Please note that we are not a subsidiary or partner of these companies.
We soon plan to use our own SNP chip, so we can explore and include all the relevant, available genetic information.
If you have any questions, please get in touch — we’d love to hear from you!
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