Are DNA Methylation Tests Actually Worth they Hype?

Published 19/06/2024

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Genetic methylation tests are the latest obsession among the biohacker/health optimiser/longevity community.

Article at a Glance:

  • 10X Health, a wellness company founded by Gary Brecka, sells a genetic test for $599
  • The test bases recommendations on just 5 genes
  • Brecka correctly highlights the role of genetics in nutrient deficiencies and elevated homocysteine levels, but it’s hard to justify the price tag of his test based on the limited coverage it provides
  • There are several alternatives, with the best one being StrideDNA, a UK-based company with over 10+ years of microbiology, nutrition and genetic research.

Are DNA Methylation Tests Actually Worth the Hype? 

Ex-tech mogul and Project Blueprint founder Bryan Johnson regularly uses this assessment to track how quickly—or, rather, slowly—he’s ageing. 

However, the one that caught everyone’s eye was when UFC President Dana White went public with a health turnaround story that he credits to the protocols of a “health guru” named Gary Brecka, PhD. It got my attention.

Gary Brecka

 

What Does the 10X Health Genetic Methylation Test Offer?

10X Health System, under the guidance of Gary Brecka, has introduced a genetic test priced at $599. This test claims to provide valuable insights into one's health by focusing on just five genes. The key genes analysed in this test are:

  1. AHCY
  2. COMT
  3. MTRR
  4. MTR
  5. MTHFR

Brecka explores the role of gene mutations and nutrient deficiencies, focusing on the MTHFR gene mutation, which affects up to 44% of the global population. This group of individuals cannot convert folic acid (the synthetic form of vitamin B9) into methylfolate (the usable form in the body), leading to a cascade of effects from nutrient deficiencies to folic acid overload. He discusses the wide range of issues arising from impaired methylation, such as anxiety, depression, and poor gut health. Brecka advocates for unlocking methylation capabilities to discover how to supplement with the right nutrients to restore deficiencies and hormone balances. This test can offer insights into:

  • Risk of Chronic Disease: By analysing methylation patterns, the test can reveal predispositions to serious health conditions like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Biological Age: It provides an estimate of biological age, considering both genetic and lifestyle factors.
  • Personalised Health Recommendations: Genetic data suggests lifestyle changes to mitigate disease risks and improve overall health.

The Science Behind Genetic Methylation

Methylation is a biochemical process where methyl groups are added to DNA, altering their function and affecting gene expression. A methyl group is made up of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms, hence the alternative term "one-carbon metabolism". Methylation can be thought of as the process of turning a raw material into a form that we can use and is involved in almost every biochemical reaction in every cell in our body, occurring billions of times per second.

This process plays a crucial role in various bodily functions, including:

  • Gene Expression: Regulating which genes are turned on or off.
  • Nutrient Absorption: Converting ingested nutrients into their usable forms.
  • Detoxification: Helping the body remove toxins.
  • Neurotransmitter Regulation: Balancing chemicals in the brain.
  • Immune Response: Enhancing the body’s defence mechanisms.
  • Energy Production: Contributes to the generation of ATP, the primary energy carrier in cells, by supporting mitochondria function.
  • Fat Metabolism: Assists in the breakdown and utilisation of fats.
  • Protein Function: Influencing their ability to carry out various cellular processes.
  • Cell Membrane Repair: Vital for ensuring cellular integrity and communication.
  • Fertility and Reproductive Health: Methylation influences reproductive cell function and fertility.

While understanding methylation is important, the 10X Health test's narrow focus on just five genes is a point of contention.

Criticisms of the 10X Health Test

Despite the potential benefits, there are significant criticisms of the 10X Health genetic test:

  1. Limited Scope: The test only examines five genes, which is insufficient to provide a comprehensive understanding of one's genetic health. Each person has unique genetic mutations, so focusing on just five genes can be misleading.
  2. High Cost: At $599, the test is quite expensive, especially considering its limited scope.
  3. Misinformation on Methylation: Brecka’s explanations of methylation processes, such as the conversion of T4 to T3, are scientifically inaccurate. For instance, T4 to T3 conversion happens in the liver and does not involve methylation.
  4. Overemphasis on Common Genetic Variants: Variants like MTHFR are common and manageable with simple dietary adjustments, contrary to the implication that they are major health determinants for everyone.
  5. Lack of Rigorous Scientific Background: Brecka’s background is in undergraduate biology, and some of his claims reflect misunderstandings of basic biochemistry.

Why StrideDNA's Genetic Test is a Better Option

StrideDNA, a UK-based company with over a decade of research in microbiology, nutrition, and genetics, offers a more extensive and valuable genetic testing service. 

StrideDNA Methylation Test

 

Here’s why StrideDNA stands out:

  1. Comprehensive Genetic Analysis: Unlike the 10X Health test, StrideDNA analyses over 9,000 genetic locations and 110 SNPs, providing a far more detailed and accurate picture of your genetic health.
  2. Rigorous Gene Inclusions: Each gene requiring evidence from human studies, reproducibility, and relevance to modifiable lifestyle changes.
  3. Affordable Pricing: StrideDNA offers competitive pricing, with their most comprehensive package priced at £186.75 after a 25% discount. 
  4. Expert Support and Interactive Results: StrideDNA provides results through an interactive digital health platform, including 1:1 consultations with health practitioners, ensuring users understand and can act on their results.
  5. Holistic Health Recommendations: The test results come with personalised health and lifestyle recommendations, targeting not just methylation but also mental health, nutrient needs, detoxification, exercise interactions, and more.

StrideDNA - A Full Stack Engine for Your Health

Stride is a holistic, personalised health ecosystem. You’ll have access to everything Stride offers, from further diagnostic testing to cutting-edge supplementation.

Phase 1: Assessment

Select your level of genetic insights with your methylation report and order your StrideDNA package.

Choose Reports Bundle: Methylation reports only, Methylation and Nutrigenetic reports, or go all in with the Optimal Health reports (methylation, nutrigenetic, fitness, sleep + stress, and skin).
StrideDNA At-Home Test: We’ll ship you our easy-to-use home DNA testing kit, for a world of insights with just a simple cheek swab.

Phase 2: Discovery

Return your StrideDNA kit using our prepaid return mailer, and we’ll analyse your sample at our advanced in-house laboratory.

Precision Laboratory Analysis: We’ll extract your DNA and analyse your sample for over 9,000 genetic locations, all within ten working days.
Genetic Reports: You'll get over 50 detailed genetic reports, including a methylation profile, popularised by Gary Brecka.

Phase 3: Action

Once you’ve received your StrideDNA results, you’ll unlock a world of personalised health insights, with clear support for the next steps.

Personalised Supplement: With your results, you’ll unlock eligibility for our advanced personalised liposomal supplement, StrideDaily, or our bespoke methylation formula.
1:1 Expert Consultation: Our team of holistic functional health practitioners are available for free consultations to help reach your goals.

 

What's included in each Stride10x Methylation Reports Bundle?

StrideDNA Methylation Report includes:

  • An easy-to-use at-home DNA test kit sent via free next-day delivery
  • Free return mailer to our UK-based laboratory
  • 1:1 Health Expert Support (inc. Dietician)
  • Digital health platform
  • 5 Methylation Reports with actionable insights:
    • Folate Cycle
    • Methionine Cycle
    • Transsulphuration Pathway
    • BH4 Cycle
    • Urea Cycle

StrideDNA Methylation + Nutrigenetic Reports includes:

  • All of the above PLUS:
  • 24 Nutrigenetic Reports with actionable insights:
    • Carbohydrate / Saturated Fat Sensitivities
    • Vitamins A, B2, B6, B9 (folate), B12, C, D, and E Needs
    • Iron Overload and Iron Deficiency
    • Antioxidants and Omega 3 Needs
    • Lactose Intolerance and Coeliac Predisposition
    • Fructose, Salt and Caffeine Sensitivities
    • Alcohol Response
    • Detoxification Phase I & II
    • Sugar Preferences and Bitter Taste Perception

StrideDNA Methylation Optimal Health Reports includes:

  • All of the above PLUS:
  • 4 Genetic Fitness Reports with actionable insights:
    • Power / Endurance
    • Aerobic Training Response
    • Recovery Efficiency and Injury Predisposition
  • 5 Genetic Mental Cognition (Sleep + Stress) Reports with actionable insights:
    • Genetic Chronotype
    • Sleep Quality
    • Caffeine & Sleep Response
    • Stress Tolerance
    • Warrior or Strategist
  • 7 Genetic Skin Reports with actionable insights:
    • Skin Ageing
    • Oxidative Stress Impact
    • Sensitivity to Refined Carbohydrate & Glycation
    • Pigmentation
    • Nickel Sensitivity
    • Detoxification
    • Skin Inflammation

Conclusion: Should you get a DNA methylation test?

While 10X Health System’s genetic methylation test offers intriguing insights into a handful of genetic markers, its high cost and limited scope make it a less appealing option. In contrast, StrideDNA’s test provides a more comprehensive, accurate, and affordable approach to genetic testing. For those looking to gain a deeper understanding of their genetic health and take proactive and personalised steps towards a healthier future, StrideDNA presents a superior choice.

 

Discover your methylation capabilities today with Stride 10x. Save 25% off your first order. Get started today by visiting getstride.com