FAQ – Science
FAQ – Science
Q. What is DNA?
A. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a long, helix-shaped molecule which contains all genetic information required to create a living being. DNA is made from a chain of 'letters,' or smaller molecules called nucleotides. There are four different types of nucleotides: adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), guanine (G). The specific combinations and arrangement of nucleotides in your DNA sequence is what makes you completely unique.
Q. What is a gene?
A. A gene is a small section of DNA which contains functional information about some characteristics, i.e. widow's peak or tongue rolling. Genes are the smallest units of heredity; each person has two versions or 'alleles' of every gene, one from their mother, one from their father.
Q. What is a genome?
A. The genome is the complete set of genes, and therefore the complete genetic 'information pack' that makes you who you are. There are 3 billion nucleotides in your genome, and we all differ by 0.1%. These differences are made up of SNPs.
Q. What is a SNP?
A. SNP (pronounced 'snip') stands for 'single nucleotide polymorphism'. A SNP is a single 'letter' (nucleotide) variation within the DNA code. Such a small change may not sound like much, but the DNA code is so precise that a little SNP can have big effects. SNPs occur normally within the DNA (there are approximately 10 million SNPs in the human genome) and are responsible for making us different from each other. Our test looks for SNPs that are strongly linked to certain chronic health conditions which can be prevented or delayed by lifestyle factors, such as diet.
Q. How many SNPs does DnaNudge test for?
A. The number of SNPs we test for is proprietary information. However, we can assure you that we test specific SNPs, which have been well-researched. We do not review a large number of SNPs or undertake whole genome sequencing, as testing a large number of SNPs does not necessarily mean this would provide beneficial information regarding your recommendations.
Q. How are genes related to health?
A. Genes help explain why certain conditions run in families. Genes affect our chances of developing several common health problems, such as heart disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, but genes alone do not cause these conditions. Many other factors, such as what we eat, how regularly we exercise, the environment we live in, how well we sleep, our level of stress and our age or gender also influence our chances of developing these conditions. You can inherit 'healthy' genes but develop poor health through an unhealthy lifestyle, or you can inherit susceptibility to a chronic condition but reduce your chances of developing it by leading a healthy lifestyle. By being more knowledgeable about your genes, you can make pro-active lifestyle changes, in order to lead a healthier life.
Q. How is my DNA sample analysed?
A. The entire sample analysis takes place in the NudgeBox on the DnaCartridge. The DnaCartridge first extracts your DNA from your cheek swab, preparing it to be processed by a very small microchip with a tiny piece of silicon. This process detects the presence or absence of certain SNPs. When you insert a cheek swab into the DnaCartridge, DNA is isolated and purified from cells in your saliva. The DNA is duplicated into millions of copies, so that there is enough for the analysis to take place. The DnaCartridge contains tiny wells loaded with 'template' strands of DNA with a specific pattern. If your DNA matches the template strand, it will bind to it to make duplicates of that bit of your DNA. This causes a chemical reaction, which is detected by the NudgeBox. If your DNA does not contain a specific variant that we look for, the reaction will not take place.
Q. What is the DnaCartridge?
A. The DnaCartridge is essentially an entire lab on a microchip. We insert your cheek swab into the DnaCartridge, and we put the cartridge into our NudgeBox to run the DNA test.
Q. How do I do the cheek swab?
A. The instructions for doing your cheek swab can be seen on the packaging of the swab itself. When the swab is in your mouth, ensure to rub the swab up and down on the inside of your cheek for 60 seconds. Rub both sides of the swab on your cheek and swap to the opposite side of your mouth after 30 seconds.
Q. Do your DNA tests analyse allergies or medical conditions?
A. All information provided through the service, including genetic test results and product recommendations, are meant for information purposes only. We also do not recommend that the 'Ingredients I Usually Avoid' feature be used by individuals with allergies as we cannot guarantee that the product information we receive from manufacturers and other third-party product datasets is 100% accurate. We recommend that you always check the product label to ensure the product is suitable for you. If you do find any discrepancies, please let us know.
Q. How do I know if a product contains ingredients I would usually avoid?
A. When you scan a product using the DnaBean which contains an ingredient you have ticked in the DnaNudge App as one that you would usually avoid, instead of displaying a steady green, red or amber light, the light will flash green or red, depending on whether the product is recommended to you (green) or not (red).
The DnaBean will, however, still display the same DNA-based recommendation, as the ingredients you usually avoid do not influence this recommendation. However, when the App makes alternative product recommendations, your selections in the ‘Ingredients You Usually Avoid’ section will be taken into account.
If you want more details as to which ingredients a product contains, you can check the product in the App and a notification will appear at the bottom of the screen telling you which ingredients the product contains.
Q. Why do I not see an ‘ingredients I usually avoid’ notification when I scan some items?
A. If you are scanning a food or drink product, single ingredient food and drinks products are not required under EU law to include an ingredients list. Our algorithm scans the ingredients list to alert you when a product contains something you avoid. This means a notification may not appear when you scan one of these items and have selected a certain ingredient to avoid as the manufacturer has not provided this information. Your alternative recommendations may sometimes contain ingredients you avoid, too. As always, ensure to read the packaging for the latest ingredients list.
Q. What if a product isn’t in our database?
A. While we do have over half a million products in our database, we haven't got every brand or supermarket yet. When you use the DnaBean to scan a product which is not in our database, it will display a steady blue light. We are working every day to expand the number of products in our database.
Q. What if the barcode of a product I scanned wasn’t recognised?
A. Sometimes it’s worth scanning the barcode again. The App will sometimes recognise the product after another scan, but if this doesn’t work, it means the product is not listed in our database. We apologise for this, our product database is growing day by day, so it’s always worth trying again in the future to see if we have added the product.
Q. When an item scans as green, does it mean I can eat as much of it as I want?
A. Green recommendations do not mean 'eat as much as you want'. When you scan an item, DnaNudge assumes you're thinking about buying or eating the product and gives you a point-of-decision prompt as to whether the item is suited to your DNA or if there are better alternatives for you.
Q. Do I have to buy exclusively ‘green’ products?
A. DnaNudge is a personalised shopping guide. You are free to choose how you use the guide and free to choose what you buy when you are shopping. However, it will nudge you towards ‘green’ products which are recommended based on your DNA.
Q. Why did a product scan as green when I scanned an unhealthy food item?
A. The goal of DnaNudge isn’t to exclude certain foods or food categories from your diet. You can use the DnaBean and DnaNudge App to scan all types of foods, including foods that you should only eat occasionally. There is a lot of evidence that shows small changes can add up to have a big impact on your health. The DnaNudge philosophy is based on the idea that we are free to choose what we eat, but we should have the option to be nudged towards a healthier alternative for us whenever possible
Q. When I scan alcohol why does it always show as green?
A. By law, alcohol is not required to have nutritional information on its label. Over 90% of alcohol products do not have any nutritional information. Without this information we cannot make an accurate recommendation for these products. You should always follow the government guidelines for alcohol consumption. Please note, the DnaNudge App does not recommend alcohol to anyone under the age of 18.
Q. My DnaBean scanned coffee as green, and yet my risk shows I have a slow metabolism for caffeine; why is it green not red?
A. We have looked at genes which have been shown to influence your metabolism of caffeine. You may be a fast or slow metaboliser; however, that does not mean you should avoid caffeine entirely. Our recommendations are based on macronutrients found on the nutrition table. The reason coffee is green is because the caffeine is not related to a product’s nutritional information. However, if you do wish to be alerted when a product contains caffeine, go to ‘Ingredients I Usually Avoid’ in the DnaNudge App and select ‘Caffeine’ as the ingredient you’d like to avoid. The App will then be able to offer you alternative, decaffeinated products in its recommendations.