Health Testing Reviews for Xcode

Prices start at £7.54 Converted from $10.00

At a Glance

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

Summary

All in all, Xcode's Unlock and Upgrade service delivered an interesting list of traits I would not have otherwise known about myself. Although the recommendations were a bit of a mix in terms of how actionable they were, I was provided with a range of useful information about my traits and received some specific and useful advice.

The Gene Health recommendations were particularly good at suggesting preventative measures for the conditions I now knew I might be genetically predisposed to, and I appreciated the fact that the genes that had been analysed for each result were included, giving me the opportunity to carry out my own further research. This report would therefore definitely suit those looking for a starting point from which to further explore and research their genetic raw data.

Full Review

Xcode is a biotechnology company based in India that sells DNA tests with a focus on preventative healthcare. Founders Saleem Mohammed and Abdur Rub advocate DNA testing as a way to find out which conditions you could be genetically predisposed to, so that measures can be taken to intervene and limit the intensity of any diseases that might develop later in life. The pair have several academic journal papers to their names and were awarded ‘Most Promising Start-Up of the Year’ from Biospectrum in 2014.

Xcode's tests cover a variety of health topics, from nutrition and fitness to someone’s genetic predisposition to certain diseases and metabolic conditions, all with an aim to ‘positively impact health and improve quality of life’ for their customers. They also offer several raw data upload options, which I opted for, using my 23andMe data to receive their ‘Gene Nutrition’, ‘Gene Fitness’ and ‘Gene Health’ reports.

Product Expectations

The Xcode website provided a lot of information about the reports I’d receive. I learnt that the Gene Nutrition report would reveal likely food intolerances and sensitivities, vitamin and mineral requirements and the best way to lose weight. I would also learn about my genetic risk of developing heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and obesity from my Gene Health report. Finally, my Fitness Genetics results would teach me how to align my genetic predispositions with my exercise regime.

The product description promised in depth reports that would cover more than 200 genetic markers, across thousands of scientific studies. I was impressed to read that they would provide key actionable insights using raw genetic data from any provider in any format. There were also reviews and images of the reports, which gave me an idea of what to expect from the results of the test.

Ordering Experience

The ordering process was straightforward. I selected the reports I wanted and added them to my cart. From here I could see the overall cost and proceeded to the checkout. I entered my address and credit card details to pay, but was also given the option to use PayPal. A note warned me that, because the payment gateway was Indian, the amount would be shown in Indian Rupees rather than dollars on my statement.

Before submitting my order, I had to tick a box indicating that I agreed to the terms and conditions. These were pretty straightforward, and didn’t include anything that concerned me, though one line, “By providing the DNA sample/data to Xcode, you do not infringe the rights or privileges of any third party” was a bit confusing, and I wasn’t sure whether this meant third parties would have access to my data.

The privacy policy was short and straightforward. I was pleased to see that the last point, in bold, informed me that I could, at any point, email Xcode to request that they delete my data from their records.

Once the order had gone through, I was able to transfer my raw genetic data by connecting to my 23andMe account. In addition to 23andMe, almost 30 other companies that Xcode accepted data from were listed, which was impressive.

The Results

The results were emailed to me on the same day, and the files were password protected, the details of which were also provided in the email. I received three separate PDF documents, 'Gene Health', 'Gene Fitness' and 'Gene Nutrition'.

Results Section: Gene Fitness

I looked first at my Gene Fitness report. This started with a list of some fun facts about athletes and gave a brief introduction to the results. The following page, entitled ‘Understanding Your Report', assured me of the user-friendly language and format that would be used.

I was initially a bit surprised that the introduction described words like 'average' and 'likely', as I thought these were pretty self-explanatory. However, the fact that they were explained in the context of the report was really helpful as it clarified exactly what they meant in terms of genetics. The guide also acknowledged that how 'desirable' a trait is could differ from person to person, one example being that flexibility does not favour sprint runners.

A brief line was provided in response to the question of where the information in the report came from, but this directed me to Xcode’s web blog, where I could find a list of references. Scrolling through, I wasn’t able to find a post dedicated to references, but there was a series of ‘Know your genes’ posts that looked at specific genes in detail and provided references to scientific studies. These were scattered throughout the blog which made them quite difficult to find, and I wasn’t sure why this information hadn’t just been included in the report.

The summary of my data was laid out in a table (shown below), with the ‘Trait Name’ and a brief description of it in one column, all the ‘Possible Outcomes’ results in another and a ‘Your Results’ column between them.

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A few of my Fitness Results.

A few of my Fitness Results.

As had been explained in the guide, advantageous results were marked in green, unfavourable ones in red, and average/moderate ones were where highlighted orange. My personal result was marked with a tick.

These results were spread over four pages, meaning that the information was clear and didn’t seem too cluttered. I found it useful to have a quick way to view all of my results together, before looking at them in more detail.

The following pages provided more information about the individual results I’d just seen in the summary table. Each of these was split into three sections: An introduction and explanation of the result, recommendations and a list of the genes analysed. Two of my results are shown below.

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Two of my Fitness results, shown in detail.

Two of my Fitness results, shown in detail.

I thought that the traits were really well explained, in language that was easy to understand and using real-world examples that made them easy to visualise. One instance of this was in my Lung Capacity result, which explained ‘Total Lung Capacity’ as “the total amount of air in the lungs after taking the deepest breath possible”.

I found the recommendations to be a bit mixed. I liked that they’d been highlighted in different colours, reminding me about whether the result they accompanied was considered desirable or undesirable. In terms of the advice given, I found that some weren’t particularly personalised, with several results just suggesting that I exercise regularly. However, there were others that were helpfully specific, such as those accompanying my ‘Power’ result. A list of five specific activities was provided and I was advised that I wouldn’t have to do as many repetitions when weight training. Another indicated I was likely to need longer resting periods between exercise.

The recommendations also included suggested nutrients though these were often chemicals I had never heard of. However, again, there were some that were specific and helpful, such as the Power result recommendation that I restrict my caffeine intake to 400mg per day, with the caveat that slow metabolisers should only have up to 100mg.

I was happy to have more information about my fitness traits and what kinds of exercises I was likely to be best at. My results suggested I had natural strength in aerobic activities which, as a keen runner, I was happy to hear. I was also impressed to see that the genes analysed to report on each trait had been included, giving me the opportunity to explore further through my own research.

Results Section: Gene Nutrition

Gene Nutrition was the longest report, and the results were laid out in the same way as they had been in the Gene Fitness report. After the Understanding Your Report page, there was another table that showed what kinds of foods I was more likely to eat and which were more likely to make me gain weight, all of which I found very useful and informative.

I felt a little overwhelmed by the next page, which was a lengthy list of vitamins, most of which I was likely to need more of (shown below).

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A list of my vitamin results.

A list of my vitamin results.

As well as the likely vitamin needs, the table also listed 'Salt Intake and Blood Pressure Sensitivity', 'Caffeine Metabolism', 'Lactose Intolerance' and 'Gluten Intolerance'. It surfaced that I was likely to be intolerant to gluten, which was interesting to learn, as this isn’t something I’ve experienced.

Luckily the nutrition tips were a bit more detailed than the fitness tips had been, for example, my outcome for ‘Tendency to Overeat Sweets’ was ‘likely’ – I’d definitely agree! Some of the recommendations were more like information than advice, such as ‘High sugar intake increases risk for obesity and diabetes’, but others were more practical and felt really personalised, such as the suggestion that I ‘snack on dry fruits, fruits and green leafy vegetables to reduce sugar cravings.’

Results Section: Gene Health

The last report I looked at was Gene Health, which was the shortest document of the three. It started with an interesting introduction, that provided a range of information and statistics about the conditions assessed in the results: Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Hypertension and Heart Disease.

This was followed by an Understanding Your Report page, which was almost the same as the ones in the other reports. However, this one explained that each result was given a ‘Genetic Risk Score’, calculated using an average of several risk variant results. This meant that unless I carried lots of the high-risk variants, my overall risk would likely be moderate.

Similarly to the previous two reports, a summary of my results was provided in a table and then each was discussed in more detail on the following pages. I found out that I was genetically likely to develop not only type 2 diabetes, but also obesity and heart disease, which was a bit of a wake-up call, and I was pleased that Xcode had given me a head-start in taking preventative measures.

I was impressed with the recommendations in this report. They were longer than in the other reports with the advice split into bullet points and the main suggestions summed up in bold and then explained (an example is shown below).

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One of the Recommendations boxes in my Health report.

One of the Recommendations boxes in my Health report.

The number of recommendations ranged between five and eight, and the reasoning behind them was clearly explained, often including statistics. A few of the food suggestions required me to do my own research, for example when I was advised to ‘Eat High Fibre Foods’, but no specific food suggestions were provided. Overall though, I thought these recommendations provided a good base from which to reduce my risk of developing the conditions.

Summary

All in all, Xcode's Unlock and Upgrade service delivered an interesting list of traits I would not have otherwise known about myself. Although the recommendations were a bit of a mix in terms of how actionable they were, I was provided with a range of useful information about my traits and received some specific and useful advice.

The Gene Health recommendations were particularly good at suggesting preventative measures for the conditions I now knew I might be genetically predisposed to, and I appreciated the fact that the genes that had been analysed for each result were included, giving me the opportunity to carry out my own further research. This report would therefore definitely suit those looking for a starting point from which to further explore and research their genetic raw data.

Please note that we were invited to take this test free of charge.

Click here to visit the Xcode website to learn more about the types of DNA test they offer.

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