Health Testing Reviews for Arivale

From $89.99

At a Glance

Editor's Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Customer Service:
4 out of 5 stars
Clarity of Results:
4 out of 5 stars
References Cited:
3.5 out of 5 stars
Value for Money:
3.5 out of 5 stars

Summary

Arivale’s ‘Beat Your Genes: Nutrition and Diet Coaching’ web app provided me with some interesting insights into my diet, in an unusual but effective format. The coaching call, in particular, was an excellent feature that helped me to clarify parts of the report I didn’t fully understand, though I found the advice a little vague.

The ability to ‘flip’ the result cards was fun, and I appreciated that details of the variants analyzed had been included for some of the results. Compared to similar products, this service doesn’t offer a huge number of results and lacks common features designed to help you implement the advice (e.g. a meal planner). However, I’d definitely recommend the service to those that already have Helix data or are thinking of buying their kit, as it then offers good value for money.

Full Review

Arivale was set up in 2014, as a product of the ‘One Hundred Person Wellness Project’ which was carried out by the Institute of Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington. The project focused on the idea of ‘Scientific Wellness’, looking at genetic results in combination with other markers of health, such as measurement of metabolites and the microbiome.

Arivale’s testing and support follows on from this, using the concept of ‘P4 Medicine’ to provide personalized, predictive, preventative, and participatory advice that helps its customers to reach their health and wellness goals. As well as their flagship coaching program, which integrates DNA testing with blood biomarker results and personalized coaching, the company offers more affordable genetic reports via Helix, a DNA marketplace.

Product Expectations

The Beat Your Genes: Nutrition and Diet Coaching’ web app was only available via Helix’s website. Despite this, I was surprised to find no information or mention of it at all on the Arivale website.

The Helix marketplace contained several apps and web apps from a range of providers. The ‘Beat Your Genes: Nutrition and Diet Coaching’ web app was one of two offered by Arivale, the other being ‘Heart Optimizer: Genetics and Nutrition Coaching’. I clicked to read more about it and was taken to a product page that described its features. On this page, I found out that to access the service I would have to purchase the Helix DNA kit. I thought it was a shame that I couldn’t upload data from other companies, as I already have data from 23andMe which is accepted by most other web apps I’ve come across.

This product description page also showed five images that provided a preview of what to expect. I was a bit confused that one of these images was just of a woman with a headset on, but soon realized that this represented the 30-minute one-on-one coaching session I’d receive as part of the service.

A box beneath these images provided a quick summary of the web app, suggesting who it might make a ‘Great Gift For’, ‘What To Expect’ and the main ‘Value’ of the results. The last of these described the analysis as a way to “help you reach your fitness goals”, which I was surprised about, as the name and the rest of the description strongly suggested the results would be focused on nutrition.

The eight areas of nutrition that would be reported on were listed, with the majority focused on weight gain in response to different components of diet (e.g. ‘Weight Gain from Dietary Fat’). Each result in the list was accompanied by an explanation that helped to clarify exactly what it meant and how it would be determined. I was pleased to have an idea about the sort of information I would receive in the results, especially as this hadn’t been obvious from the name of the web app.

The rest of the page provided testimonials and information about Arivale. I learned that, in addition to selling DNA services, the company carried out research into human health and longevity.

Beneath this, a section called ‘Impact’ assessed the science behind the analysis. This confusingly revealed that, compared to environmental factors, genetics only played a small role in weight. This seemed to contradict what the rest of the product description had described, but I appreciated the honesty.

Finally, there was a ‘How it works’ section and pictures of what would be included in the kit. There were also some frequently asked questions, which provided helpful extra information, such as that I’d be able to contact the coaches as often as I wanted for 30 days after receiving my results. I also found out that these coaches were all Registered Dietitian Nutritionists or Certified Nutritionists.

Ordering Experience

As previously mentioned, the service was only available to purchase through Helix. This meant that there were lots of documents to read through, as both companies had their own set of policies.

The Arivale documents were quite lengthy but seemed to be thorough. There were also nine legal documents in total, so it wasn’t immediately obvious which ones were relevant or important to me. A lot of the content of these policies was clearly aimed at those taking a test (i.e. submitting a sample directly to Arivale). However, I was pleased to find a section that explained the protections of GINA and HIPAA, both acts that provide protections and regulations related to genetic testing. As well as the benefits of these, the limitations, and risks of undergoing genetic analysis were outlined.

Ordering the web app was pretty straightforward. The kit was automatically included in the order, but I could have removed it if I had already submitted a sample to Helix. In this case, I would have been able to purchase the web app on its own and could have received the results the same day.

I hadn't used Helix before, so I entered my name, email and credit card details to complete the purchase of the web app and Helix kit. I was a bit disappointed to find that the cheapest shipping option (USPS First Class) was $8.92, which seemed quite high, especially considering that delivery could take up to nine days. There was also the option to upgrade to FedEx 2-Day ($13.67) or Overnight ($20.45), but I decided I would wait a bit longer to save some money.

Once my order had gone through, I received a confirmation email from Helix. The kit arrived soon afterwards, and I was happy to find that it looked as bright and professional as the images on the Helix website had shown. The sample was easy to take, and I sent it back via the pre-paid FedEx postage that had been included. I received an email to confirm that my sample had arrived at the Helix lab.

The Results

Around seven weeks later, I received another email from Helix. This informed me that my DNA sequencing had been completed and told me to expect an email from Arivale. This email (the first I'd received from Arivale) provided the details I needed to set up an Arivale account and access my results. However, I found that when I clicked the link in my Helix account rather than the email, I was taken to a page that advertised the product I’d already bought, with no obvious login button.

Luckily, I was able to login via the Arivale homepage. When I did, I was asked to fill in some basic profile questions about my body and lifestyle (e.g. height, weight, details about my diet and goals). I was then shown a dashboard that included an introduction, a list of my results and various options related to them (shown below).

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My Dashboard.

My Dashboard.

The introduction mainly covered things I had already learnt about the service from the product description on Helix’s website. However, I was happy to have the reminder, especially about the option to speak with a coach.

I noticed that the results had been color coded in green, orange, and gray. I guessed corresponded to whether they were good, bad, or neutral, though there was nothing explaining this.

Results Section: Weight Gain from Total Fats

I clicked on the first result, ‘Weight Gain from Total Fats’, which was the only orange one in the list. I was shown a scale, labelled ‘Your Genetic Predisposition, with ‘Decreased’ at one end, ‘Increased’ at the other, and a marker to show my result (shown below).

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My Weight Gain from Total Fats result.

My Weight Gain from Total Fats result.

I thought that this was a simple and clear way to show my result, but I was interested to know more about how it had been worked out. Therefore, I was pleased to find that when I clicked on the little blue arrow in the corner, the card 'flipped' around to show a list of the four genetic variants that had been analyzed. Although this looked like a lot of random numbers and letters to me, I appreciated that this information had been included. It was also good to know that the result had been based on four variants, rather than just one.

Beneath this scale, a short paragraph explained that this result meant that I was likely to gain weight from fats, regardless of whether they were considered healthy (unsaturated) or unhealthy (saturated). This was a bit depressing and I was slightly disappointed that no advice was included about how to best deal with this genetic predisposition. However, I was reminded again that I’d have the opportunity to discuss this during my coaching call and made a mental note to do so.

Results Section: Obesity (Increased BMI) and High Weight Circumference

Next, I looked at the results highlighted in green, which I hoped would provide me with some positive information. Firstly, I looked at my ‘Obesity (Increased BMI)’ result, which revealed that I had a lower-than-average risk. This was shown on a similar scale to the one I’d seen in the previous result, but this time my BMI was shown beneath it. I assumed this had been calculated using the profile information I’d submitted. According to this, my BMI was higher than it should be, which was unexpected, as I do quite a lot of exercise and wouldn’t say I’m overweight. However, I know that BMI doesn’t take muscle mass into account, so this may have been why. This wasn’t explained, so had I not known this myself, I might have been more concerned.

Rather than the list of variants I’d seen in the first result, my Obesity result card revealed a graph when I ‘flipped’ it to the other side. This showed how my result compared to that of other Arivale members (shown below).

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Graph that compared my result to other Arivale members.

Graph that compared my result to other Arivale members.

I was happy to see that I had a lower chance of becoming obese than most other customers. I was also pleased to see that the graph compared my result to other males specifically, rather than all other Arivale customers.

Despite finding this graph interesting, I was a bit disappointed that the genetic variants used to determine the result hadn’t been included. However, the accompanying explanation revealed that this result had been based on hundreds of variants. This explained why the list hadn’t been included on the result card and increased my trust in the conclusion.

The explanation also included an average BMI for males of my age that drank a similar number of sugary drinks, sat for a similar amount of time per day and were as active as me. I could move the scales to see how different levels of each changed the average BMI (shown below).

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Adjustable scales showing how three factors could affect BMI.

Adjustable scales showing how three factors could affect BMI.

Apparently, these three factors had been shown in Arivale’s collective research data to be most closely associated with BMI.

With this result in mind, I wasn’t surprised to find that my ‘High Waist Circumference’ result showed that I was at a low risk of this. The result was displayed in the same way, with a scale on one side and a chart showing my result relative to other Arivale members on the other.

I was even more pleased to find I had a low likelihood of displaying this trait after reading the explanation, which revealed that those with a high waist circumference were more at risk of heart disease and diabetes. I was also impressed to see that, again, the result had been calculated for my biological sex.

Results Section: Other results

I was intrigued by the six results highlighted in grey, as I wasn’t quite sure what this color signified in terms of the outcome. It turned out that I was right in thinking that these results were neutral, meaning I was neither more nor less likely to display the traits examined. These results reported on my risk of weight gain from saturated fats, carbohydrates and low activity, my bitter taste and sugar sensitivity, as well as my likely sugar consumption.

One of these results, for ‘Bitter Taste Sensitivity’, differed slightly from the rest. According to this result, rather than being average (‘Intermediate Taster’) I was unlikely to be able to taste bitter foods. This was formatted differently to the other results I’d looked at too (I later realised all three of the sensitivity results were formatted this way), with three boxes shown in place of the scale and the variants listed underneath (shown below).

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My Bitter Taste Sensitivity result.

My Bitter Taste Sensitivity result.

The explanation beneath this section mainly focused on the ‘Super Taster’ outcome, so I wasn’t quite sure whether this meant I was unlikely to taste any bitter foods or just certain ones. I’ve definitely winced at the bitter tastes of lemon and grapefruit, so I wasn’t sure about the accuracy of this result. However, the explanation did mention that ‘Super Tasters’ would likely not enjoy cruciferous vegetables, so I guessed these might be what I’m less sensitive to, rather than all bitter foods.

Results Section: Coaching Call

After looking through my results myself, I decided to book my complimentary Coaching Call. This was easy to do via the ‘Your Coaching Call’ section on the dashboard and I received an email reminder the day before.

When it came to the call, the coach was friendly but professional and took me through the various aspects of the test. She explained any aspects I didn’t understand and offered advice based on my results. The recommendations were good, though I wasn’t sure I really needed a genetic report to know they were sensible measures to take to improve my diet. For example, I was told to eat less fat and more green vegetables.

After the call, some notes on the advice we’d discussed were added to the ‘Your Action Plan’ section of my account, accessible from the dashboard. It was useful to have a reminder, but these notes were again quite brief, including only certain parts of the recommendations we’d discussed.

Summary

Arivale’s ‘Beat Your Genes: Nutrition and Diet Coaching’ web app provided me with some interesting insights into my diet, in an unusual but effective format. The coaching call, in particular, was an excellent feature that helped me to clarify parts of the report I didn’t fully understand, though I found the advice a little vague.

The ability to ‘flip’ the result cards was fun, and I appreciated that details of the variants analyzed had been included for some of the results. Compared to similar products, this service doesn’t offer a huge number of results and lacks common features designed to help you implement the advice (e.g. a meal planner). However, I’d definitely recommend the service to those that already have Helix data or are thinking of buying their kit, as it then offers good value for money.

See a description of this DNA test from Arivale >