Health Testing Reviews for Pathway Genomics

At a Glance

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

Summary

The ‘Fit iQ’ test from Pathway Genomics provided a comprehensive overview of my genetic predispositions towards certain foods and types of exercise, and offered practical workout and nutrition advice, with the nutrition advice being especially detailed. They provided research and gene references to back up their findings and recommendations, which made it feel like the report was truly tailored to my genetic makeup.

Full Review

Founded in 2008, Pathway Genomics offers products both for physicians and general consumers, which can be accessed on a range of devices. Their CLIA and CAP accredited clinical laboratory in San Diego, California, caters to clients in over forty countries. They provide genetic testing for cardiac health, carrier screening, diet and weight loss, drug response, and screening for a variety of conditions.

Product Expectations

The Pathway Genomics website was bright, well-designed, and professional looking. I saw that they offered a range of products both for medical practitioners and consumers, and that they had been featured in several publications, which gave an impression of their having good credentials. Unusually for this type of product, I saw that it could be purchased from various retailers, both in-store and online, and not just on their own site. There was a map showing where these retailers could be found.

There were a number of products for general consumers, including fitness and skincare tests, tests for DNA insight into mental health and pain medication response, and tests for cardiac health, gluten tolerance, hereditary cancer, and carrier status.

Browsing through their fitness products, I read that their ‘Fit iQ’ test would analyze 20 traits to do with diet, exercise, and overall wellness. The product would include eating behavior traits, food reactions, my body type and weight, my genetic diet type, the type of exercise I’m predisposed for (strength or endurance), and diet guidelines. Clicking on all these features told me more about what they would include, and how many of my genetic traits would be analyzed to get them.

Scrolling down the page, I found they had provided research on the effectiveness of a genetically-tailored diet with a link to a study by Stanford University, which showed that people on “genotype-appropriate diets lost 5.3 percent of body weight” compared to others, who lost “2.3 percent”. There were also quotations from several mainstream publications, lauding tailored diets.

Exploring the website further, I found the “Resources” menu, which included a blog about genetics and fitness, diet, health and skincare. There was also a “Corporate Wellness” page, with information about how genetic testing could be integrated into corporate wellness programs. The “Patient Resources” page included links to various cancer charities (which I would not have deduced from the name). There were also glossary pages for medications and phenotypes, which I thought were quite useful, as they included which tests covered which medication or phenotype.

There was also a page with information on how to collect a DNA sample, which included a video.

Ordering Experience

When I went to order the ‘Fit iQ’ test, I was pleased to find that shipping was free. Payment was secured by SSL encryption, and a helpline was provided for queries. Checking out, I could pay with Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express.

Before checking out, I had a look through their privacy statement. I found that Pathway Genomics would share my information with third parties in order to deliver services to me on behalf of the company. However, they explicitly stated they would not share any of my information with my employer or health insurance provider.

I also discovered that “Pathway’s Comprehensive Genotype Testing process” would also collect more genetic information than would be used to complete my genetic report, though they didn’t say why, or whether this extra information would be used for anything.

As part of keeping my genetic (and other) information confidential, it would be provided with a unique identification number, and so would not be associated with my name. However, Pathway Genomics may disclose my personal information if required to do so by law.

Having looked through the privacy statement, I was happy to continue with my order.

The kit came several days after ordering. It was quite simple to take a saliva sample (for which I was required to use two swabs). I registered my kit online before sealing the samples in the prepaid envelope provided, which I just dropped in the mail.

A few days later, I received an email confirming that they had received my sample. It told me I should expect to receive my results within four weeks. Ten days later, I had another email informing me my results were ready. There was a button to review my results online, which I was told would expire within 30 days if unclicked. Once clicked, I would have only seven days to view my results, and so it was recommended I download a copy.

The Results

Following the link in my results email, I was required to log in, and was brought to a page showing “My Genetic Highlights” (shown below).

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My Genetic Highlights.

My Genetic Highlights.

These included different sections: Diet, Weight and Metabolism, Exercise and Fitness, and Diet Guidelines. Clicking on each of these provided more in-depth information.

There was also the option to fill in a survey comprising general health questions, which would contribute to research.

Results Section: Diet

Clicking on “My Diet Genes”, I found that my ideal diet was Low Carb (shown below).

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My ideal, Low Carb Diet.

My ideal, Low Carb Diet.

I could choose to alter how many calories I planned to eat in a day, though it wouldn’t permit me to eat more than 2000, which seemed a little mean to someone not on a low-calorie diet! Still, selecting different calorie allowances altered the amount of lean protein, healthy fats and complex carbs I was allowed per day, which I thought was a smart feature.

I was told that my meals should consist of 30% lean protein, such as seafood, poultry, eggs or soy. 30% should be healthy fats, such as olives, avocados, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils. While 40% should be complex carbs, such as whole grains, legumes, and starchy vegetables.

Scrolling through “My Diet Genetics”, I found I had both increased food desire and a higher likelihood to overeat, which I thought provided a clue about why they had limited the amount of calories I was allowed!

I also found I was slow to metabolize coffee, that I was unlikely to suffer from lactose intolerance or alcohol flush, and that I had fairly typical sensitivity to bitterness, typical preferences for sweet tastes, typical omega-3 and -6 levels, and typical pretty much everything else.

Clicking on the box for “My Diet Type”, I discovered a whole wealth of information.

I was told to limit my carbohydrate intake, and focus on eating non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats and lean protein, while avoiding processed foods, trans fats and added sugars. I discovered that I shared my ideal diet with 20% of people, 21% of males, and 18% of Caucasians.

Here, I saw they had provided scientific evidence to back their findings. I read that they had analyzed my genetic variants to see how I responded to different macronutrients, and there was even a list of the exact genes they had tested.

There was a paragraph on the key aspects of a Low Carb Diet, as well as a clean-cut breakdown of what I should avoid and what I was encouraged to eat (shown below).

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A section from my Low Carb Diet breakdown.

A section from my Low Carb Diet breakdown.

At the bottom of the page, there was a list of references to academic papers.

Other sub-sections of the “Diet” section were less in-depth. However, clicking on “Increased Benefit From Monounsaturated Fats”, I found another mine of information.

Here, I discovered that eating healthy monounsaturated fats would help me maintain a healthy body weight. There was a breakdown of which foods contained which kinds of fat. For instance, most meats and dairy products contained saturated fats, whereas cold-water fish, almonds and walnuts contained polyunsaturated fats. Avocado, nuts and olive oil contained monounsaturated fats, and processed, fried and fast foods contained hydrogenated fat.

In each sub-section, there was a list of the genes that had been analyzed, and references to research papers.

Results Section: Weight and Metabolism

Next, I visited the “Weight and Metabolism” section. Here, I learned that I have an average predisposition towards being overweight or obese, which didn’t sound bad to me. There was a tool allowing me to input my height and weight, which – while it didn’t calculate an exact BMI – would tell me whether my weight fell in a healthy range (shown below).

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A tool to find out if your weight is in a healthy range.

A tool to find out if your weight is in a healthy range.

I also discovered that I have a normal metabolic rate, and that I am more likely to regain weight. I learned that 97% of people have a similar metabolism to mine, while 87% of people shared my predisposition to regain lost weight.

I didn’t expect this percentage to be so high. Looking at the information, I read that I should maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen after losing weight so that I wouldn’t gain it back again.

Results Section: Exercise and Fitness

Going to the Exercise and Fitness section, I found I was well-disposed both to endurance and strength training. Here, I could input the number of times I planned to exercise per week, as well as my current activity level, and it would recommend the amount of cardio and strength training I should be doing (shown below).

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My recommended exercise routine.

My recommended exercise routine.

I also discovered that I have a typical aerobic capacity, and a normal weight loss and fat response to exercise. I was also told I had less muscle power, and that I would excel at endurance-based activities that use slow twitch muscle fibers, though I wasn’t provided with any examples of these.

Results Section: Diet Guidelines

My order had also included “Diet Guidelines”, which I understood was a limited-time complementary offer. The guidelines were available only as a .PDF file, which I downloaded.

The entire booklet was 33 pages long. Some of the information was similar to that I’d found in my “Diet” section online, though this was a far more comprehensive breakdown of my recommended diet.

It included “General Guidelines”, a “Diet Overview” a “Nutrient Breakdown”, “Snack Exchange” and “Meal Plan Ideas”.

The amount of information included was far more than I’d expected, and more practical, too. It broke down the food groups I should be including in my diet into the exact servings I should have per day. For instance, it recommended I have seven servings of healthy fat per day, with one serving being equivalent to 6 almonds, cashews or mixed nuts, one tablespoon of seeds, or five large olives, amongst other examples.

In the “Snack Exchange” section, it recommended I have up to two snacks per day. The “exchange” part of the name came from their recommendation that I exchange part of my daily servings of protein, fat, starch or fruit from my meal plan into my snack, in order to prevent unbalancing my diet or over-eating. Examples of snacks included half a banana (one fruit serving) or one boiled egg (one protein serving). Certain snacks were “free”, since there wasn’t any limit on the amount of non-starchy vegetables I could eat, such as carrots, peppers or cucumber.

The “Meal Plan Ideas” were comprehensive and extensive, and included breakfast, lunch and dinner. An example breakfast plan was two eggs over easy, a slice of rye toast, a teaspoon of olive oil, and four walnuts. This would constitute two protein servings, one starch (carbohydrate) serving, and two fat servings.

Although I had been told that my results would only be available online for seven days, this .PDF was the only resource that was obviously printable. It seemed to me that the only ways to download everything else would be to take individual screenshots, or else print copies of the webpages, which wouldn’t really provide the same experience as exploring them in the web browser.

Summary

The ‘Fit iQ’ test from Pathway Genomics provided a comprehensive overview of my genetic predispositions towards certain foods and types of exercise, and offered practical workout and nutrition advice, with the nutrition advice being especially detailed. They provided research and gene references to back up their findings and recommendations, which made it feel like the report was truly tailored to my genetic makeup.

See a description of this DNA test from Pathway Genomics >