DNANudge: The App That Uses Your Genetics To Help You Avoid Heart Disease And Diabetes

Winfried RothermelAP Images

In recent years, we have seen a huge growth in apps that aim to help you stay healthy. Now U.K. startup company DNANudge aims to take technology a step further by using your DNA to help you avoid foods that could make you more susceptible to conditions like heart disease and diabetes. As reported by the BBC, DNANudge aims to change the way we shop by quickly offering recommendations on what we should eat, or not eat, based on our DNA.

The idea behind DNANudge is to offer a service in supermarkets that will allow customers to select foods that are genetically optimal for individuals. Shoppers take a simple swab from inside their mouth. The swab is analyzed in-store in around 15 minutes. The results are compared with the DNANudge database through a secure mobile phone app which personalizes your shopping experience.

In simple terms, DNANudge aims to “nudge” grocery shoppers towards making healthier food choices based on their own genetics. For example, if your DNA shows that you may be susceptible to heart disease, the DNANudge app may warn you to avoid foods with a high-fat content. Likewise, if your DNA test indicates that diabetes could be an issue, you may be warned to avoid sugary foods and drinks.

As reported on the DNANudge website, once the initial DNA test has been conducted, shoppers simply scan a grocery items barcode whilst shopping. DNANudge uses a complex algorithm to assess the merits of the food item against the user’s DNA profile. The DNANudge app then gives the product a “Thumbs up” or “Thumbs down” recommendation.

DNANudge App heart disease obesity diabetes
Featured image credit: Sean DempseyAP Images

A “Thumbs up” from the DNANudge app suggests that the product is suitable for your consumption based on your own genetic profile. If a product gets a “Thumbs down” from DNANudge, the app will suggest similar items in the same food group that may suit you better as an individual.

DNANudge has been developed by Professor Chris Toumazou and geneticist and leukemia researcher Dr. Maria Karvela. The product is being trialed by scientists at Imperial College London ahead of a wider commercial roll-out. Upmarket U.K. supermarket chain Waitrose is “exploring” the idea of making DNANudge available to its customers.

It should be borne in mind that whilst your DNA may suggest that you are susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, or obesity, there are many other factors that will combine to determine whether you develop these conditions. Likewise, DNANudge cannot guarantee that following their advice will ensure that you avoid the conditions.