DNA testing is mostly a scam.
You submit your sample, wait nearly two months for your results, and learn information about your ancestry you mostly already knew. Then the company sells your DNA data to all kinds of third parties who profit off your genes.
Even the well-known, more advanced services don’t yield much. That’s because typical DNA test chips read 500-800K genetic variants. Out of the 328M in the human genome.
And here’s the other glaring issue…
Most of these brands talk about their service as if it holds all the secrets to your health. Well, it doesn’t.
I’ve used many of the “best DNA testing services”, and quite frankly, they’re not worth it.
I was about to give up and move on until I found one in particular.
SelfDecode combines the most advanced AI technologies to ensure our personalized results are the most accurate and actionable money can buy. Across multiple forms of health testing (not just DNA), and all without breaking the bank.
That’s why Dr. Peter Attia recommended SelfDecode as his favorite genetic testing software in a recent podcast.
SelfDecode’s original software was already the best in the industry, and in 2022 they invested over $10 Million to build the new SelfDecode 2.0 into the most powerful platform available.
You’ll learn everything you need to know about SelfDecode 2.0 — the best all-in-one wellness platform. This SelfDecode review explains what it is, how it works, the different DNA reports available, how SD compares to other popular DNA testing services, and why it’s become a favorite tool of over 1,150 doctors and 150,000+ users.
What is SelfDecode
SelfDecode is a personalized DNA testing, analytics, and digital health platform that seeks to share the science of personalized health. Serial entrepreneur Joe Cohen created SelfDecode to track his own personal experiments and improve his biology. Realizing a larger need, he began scaling an entire platform. For every topic/condition, SelfDecode looks at tons of different genetic variants to determine your status (called Polygenic Risk Scoring). Then, cutting-edge AI and machine learning algorithms deliver the best and most accurate lifestyle, diet, and supplement recommendations to help you reach your optimal.
Several factors set SelfDecode apart from other DNA testing services:
- 100% transparency & full data privacy
- Industry-leading polygenic risk scoring
- Integrating data from other sources (blood labs already, soon wearables, epigenetic tests, pharmacogenetic tests, etc)
- Multi-faceted reports and recommendations
- Blog posts personalized to your particular genetic profile
- 70X more data from your DNA without the astronomical expense of whole genome sequencing
- Award-winning team of 65+ scientists & engineers
- Patent-pending technology and AI-enhanced algorithm
As a side note, since Joe founded SelfHacked in 2016, it has become the internet’s top precision medicine & biohacking knowledge base. If you haven’t checked out Self-Hacked, you’re missing one of the best biohacking resources on the internet.
Both platforms have armies of well-credentialed staff curating the latest peer-reviewed research. Joe’s tools complement each other.
I think of SelfHacked as their general research division and SelfDecode as the branch that personalizes state-of-the-art knowledge to your unique brain and body.SelfDecode is your personal health coach without the cost of seeing multiple specialists Click To Tweet
Update: SelfDecode 2.0
In late 2021, SelfDecode released a massive update.
A full platform rebuild that cost them $10 Million.
SelfDecode majorly overhauled the platform:
- New machine learning and AI algorithms analyze 50x more DNA health data points, resulting in more precise personalized recommendations
- Know your true strengths and weaknesses with percentile comparisons to the population
- Build your ideal health routines with the new “Care Plan” dashboard
- Issue and condition risk assessment scores based on your lifestyle
- Labs 2.0 makes ordering blood panels, uploading, analyzing, and acting on your blood biomarkers easier than ever
- Genetic variants database upgraded to include over 85 million genetic variants
- Decody AI Health Coach tailors your dashboard to your goals and lifestyle
Unlike the other DNA testing companies that focus exclusively on your genes, SelfDecode is strengthening the link between your biomarkers in their many forms. Currently, the system integrates your blood labs into your DNA reports, care plan, and health recommendations. Giving you the most accurate health dashboard available.
I’ve been a customer of Joe’s since 2016. Impressed by the unwavering growth and improvements, in September 2021 I invested in the company.
How SelfDecode Works
Genetic tools either grossly oversimplify the science and render your results useless, or they’re so complex they take a Ph.D. to interpret.
SelfDecode brings a nice balance of power and simplicity to the field of personalized health.
It has all the bells and whistles to appeal to the most sophisticated health professional, yet its intuitive user interface, visuals, and clear explanations appease even absolute beginners.
In the world of complex and convoluted genetics, a five-year-old could effectively use SelfDecode.
This is how it works.
1. Get your DNA data
At its core, SelfDecode is a DNA optimization service. First, you’ll need to submit a DNA sample.
You have two options:
- Import your raw DNA data file from another service (Ancestry, 23andMe, etc)
- Get a DNA test kit from SelfDecode
Although I took the first approach and imported my data from Ancestry, if you haven’t already done a test, I’d choose option two. Here’s why.
Those services are incredibly slow. Once they receive your sample, expect to wait 6-8 weeks to receive your results. I’ve heard several cases of samples taking 10 or even 12 weeks to process. Second, many of the major platforms like Ancestry & 23andMe have major issues with data privacy. These companies stay afloat by selling your data to the highest bidder.
Though you may “have nothing to hide”, as I often hear, that could lead to higher health insurance rates (or declining your coverage altogether) and plenty of other consequences later.
SelfDecode, on the other hand, processes samples much faster (1-2 weeks) and GUARANTEES the safety and privacy of your data. Considering the SelfDecode plan that includes a DNA test costs less than any of the other options anyway, I highly recommend it.
Whichever route you choose, SelfDecode uses your raw DNA data to build out your reports and customize your dashboard.
2. Add goals and other data sources
As soon as SelfDecode has processed your DNA, you’ll receive an email confirmation. Next, you can choose which reports (or all) to generate.
Before displaying some recommendations, the Decody AI health coach will ask about your goals and lifestyle. Further tailoring the reports to fit your unique circumstances.
Currently, SelfDecode has a feature called “Labs” (more on that later), which allows you to input your blood labs. You can either enter the blood lab values manually or upload a photo of the document and let the AI do the heavy lifting. Not only does it show where you sit on the gradient between urgent attention and perfect optimization, but this data also populates across the entire platform. In conjunction with your DNA, you get better and more actionable tips.
SelfDecode is building integrations with various other forms of non-genetic data. Wearables like the Oura ring, Biostrap, Apple Watch, and WHOOP.
Now, the service is set up and all that’s left is to use your results to build your individualized regimen.
3. Review reports & implement recommendation
First, I like to go to the “Overview” page to see a high-level snapshot of my health, genetic risks (areas for improvement), recommendations, care plan, and sub-optimal labs.
Here, you can also drill down into a particular body part/system of interest (say, brain or lungs, or gut).
Then, you’ll want to navigate over to the “DNA” dropdown, and select “Health Reports”. Start with the Introductory report which summarizes all of the others. Then, you can dig into any other reports of interest.
Every report is packed with visuals, customized information, and interactivity. Should you choose, you can view the breakdown of scientific details.
Best of all, SelfDecode translates vast scientific information into actionable steps for you to improve.
Then, you can also check out the “Traits”, “Biohacker Reports”, and Personalized “Blog” posts. More on each next.
SelfDecode Review: DNA Reports
Since SelfDecode is first and foremost a DNA interpretation company, it offers unparalleled custom reports.
Ranging from high-level “Summary Reports”, to in-depth “Biohacker Reports”. In 2022, they built what they call “Trait” reports, which explore your personality and tendencies.
Depending on your plan, you can either generate single reports or all of them with the click of a button.
Based on your goals, lifestyle, and living environment, the Decody virtual health coach customizes your report recommendations.
One of the other things that set SelfDecode is that they’re constantly creating new reports and updating existing reports with the latest science.
So there are now too many to list all 1,000+ reports here.
Now, let’s explore each.
SelfDecode Health Reports is the original offering of the platform.
Click the crown icon to view Summary Reports. These combine the insights of dozens of reports into one thorough categorical report. From inside the Summary Reports, you can click into any specific reports of interest to learn more.
To get started, I suggest looking at your:
- Introductory Report
- Diet & Nutrition
- Brain Health
- Hormone Health
- Metabolic Health
- Skin & Beauty
- Gut Health
- Bones, Joints, & Muscles
- Cardiovascular Health
- Immunity & Inflammation
- Sexual & Reproductive Health
And the other top-level summaries.
Once you’ve checked that, you may want to see the reports of all your highest health risks. Click the “Risks” tab to filter your reports from highest to lowest risk. You’ll want to understand and focus on all the reports color-coded red first. These are the most important.
Other options include filtering reports by New (new and updated reports shown first), Popular reports (among other users), Favorites (you choose these), and Search (find anything you’re interested in).
SelfDecode Biohacker reports are a newer feature, meant to deeply explore specific and often unconventional topics.
These advanced reports don’t have as much research, predict with fewer gene variants than other reports, and feature unique lab markers.
I love digging into the Biohacker Reports because they provide a great snapshot of our unique nutrition needs, sensitivities, and our personal neurochemistry.
I pretty much ignore the yellow reports and focus on my risks (red) and strengths (green).
These help me fine-tune my regiment and routine.
Trait reports showcase the nuances of your personality, physical features, characteristics, habits, and behaviors.
Think of it like a DNA-based personality test.
SelfDecode Traits tell your:
- Degree of extraversion
- Risk-taking behavior
- Stress resilience
- Ideal circadian rhythm (early bird or night owl)
- Food preferences
- Proclivity to overeat or snack
- Leadership qualities
- Impulsivity, irritability, and happiness
- Tendency to take naps
Although this section of SelfDecode will likely mainly confirm what you already know about yourself, it’ll help you uncover at least a few new things and also convince you of the power of decoding your genetics.
Formerly called Lab Test Analyzer, SelfDecode Labs is a separate part of the platform dedicated to blood work.
Regular laboratory work is an important diagnostic. A quantified testing essential to long-term health. Bodily fluids hold intricate details of how your biology is working.
Health or lack thereof. Short-term trends and long-term trends. All with immediate feedback.
While lab work on its own highlights problems, you must solve them yourself. That takes research, experimentation, and re-testing to see progress. Then, you’ll have to handle the headache of storage.
The litany of PDFs, physical documents, and files should all go in one place so you can reference them later. You must remember which files are virtual, and which are physical, and manually adjust for the formatting differences (visual changes, reference ranges, measurement units, etc) between labs.
With traditional lab testing, you’ll have to manually look up each test’s reference ranges in order to accurately compare values. Otherwise, you might chase non-problems and miss the important ones. References ranges are predominantly based on a sick population. What’s “normal” isn’t always optimal.
SelfDecode users get free access to Labs which does all of the heavy lifting for you. All documents are automatically parsed and cross-referenced against their database of 916 different lab tests (and counting). Plus, these references are based on an optimized population. Then, they’re standardized and centralized into their all-in-one wellness platform.
Best of all, you’re not left in the dark. Based on all your data, the data from Labs automatically flows into your DNA Reports and your personalized recommendations.
Helping you not only get your blood biomarkers back in the optimal zone but to correct any underlying problems.
Personalized Genetics Blog
Genetic research moves quickly.
It’s also one of the fastest-moving forefronts of modern science.
Here’s the thing…
Most research isn’t very applicable to us. I’ve combed through thousands of studies and noticed glaring problems. One of which are the participants. Most peer-reviewed papers study old, young, sick, diseased, and predominantly male folks.
New research rarely applies to healthy biohackers.
SelfDecode’s blog partially solves this issue.
They highlight and showcase only the articles most relevant to your DNA.
Two people visiting the same blog will see different articles, interpretations, and usefulness for their biology.
The most important article for me might not matter to you.SelfDecode is the only health & wellness site that automatically interprets the latest articles for your unique biological makeup Click To Tweet
This is a great way to cut through all the noise and mostly inapplicable content.
Get the top research and recommendations, and then go about your day.
How many companies customize their content like this? I haven’t come across any.
While it’s not a core feature, I’ve found their individualized blog to be a nice perk.
SelfDecode’s Suggested Recommendations
In multiple different places, SelfDecode displays your highest leverage recommendations.
First, on the Overview tab, you’ll see an at-a-glance view of the AI’s picks that will help optimize the most.
Within every Health Report, there’s an entire tab dedicated to Recommendations. Stack-ranked by effectiveness. By default, they only show the top five, but you can expand for even more recommendations. Every recommendation is backed up with links to peer-reviewed scientific research.
With one click, you add these to your custom health plan.
SelfDecode recommendations are based on two factors:
- Evidence — peer-reviewed scientific support
- Impact — magnitude of effect
Evidence is their analysis of how well the credible science supports the specific recommendation.
Impact predicts how dramatically the recommendation can help improve or reduce the condition. The impact also depends on your specific DNA too.
Both metrics are scored from one (questionable) through five (proven).
While they’ve been adding more items to this list, I’d like to see SelfDecode include even more items here. Additional supplements, alternative medicine practices, etc.
My Regimen & Care Plan
While viewing SelfDecode’s Health Reports & Biohacker reports, you might notice that you can add the recommendations to your Care Plan (sometimes called My Regimen).
There’s an entire tab dedicated to your Care Plan. This is where you keep track of the new habits, foods, and supplements you’re adding to your routine. It even shows each of your imbalances that the chosen item addresses (based on your DNA and lab tests).
You set the necessary details:
- Dose (supplements)
- Start date
Whenever you forget which healthy habits, supplements, or lifestyle routines you’re working on, just check this tab.
SelfDecode Mobile App
In late 2022, SelfDecode FINALLY released a mobile app.
The SelfDecode iOS app is fully functional and provides the same access on the go.
It really feels like they just made a smaller version of the web app.
Nonetheless, I find myself checking the app surprisingly often. When I come across new info on a podcast, during conversations on health optimization, before buying new supplements or brain-enhancing nootropic ingredients, or at biohacking conferences & events.
These days I’m mostly using the SelfDecode mobile app. It’s quite convenient and the layout will look familiar to anyone that’s used the web app.
For some reason, the mobile app automatically logs me out every couple of days. I use a password manager to autofill it, but it’s annoying nonetheless. Every once in a while, I’ll run into a random error. Overall, it works great though.
I hope to see the app integrate with Apple Health, and also for them to make accessing the Care Plan easier on mobile.
SelfDecode Pro (Practitioners)
Are you a doctor, coach, or other healthcare professional that works with clients or patients?
If so, you can take advantage of a special practitioners-only edition called SelfDecode Pro.
Pro offers three core advantages to businesses:
- Time savings by automating the reports and analysis
- Results improve from scientifically accurate and unique recommendations
- Revenue increases from providing a better client experience and affording time to have more sessions
Let your clients experience the ultimate holistic health software.
Pro also comes with a few features above the main platform.
SelfDecode Pro is an all-in-one platform for managing client data, lifestyle prescriptions, and more:
- Analyze & track bloodwork
- Generate custom health routines
- Design all-in-one custom supplements
- Tailor individual recommendations
- Add detailed client notes (charting)
- Send Unbranded DNA Test Kits
- Onboard new clients with custom intake forms
- Rapidly review all information via the at-a-glance dashboard
- Practitioner-only Disease Reports
SelfDecode simplified everything for practitioners. You can send clients a DNA Test Kit, custom intake questionnaires, screen for health conditions using the Lifestyle Analyzer feature, and order/upload their blood lab tests.
Only SelfDecode Pros can generate the brand-new 2023 Disease Reports to learn about genetic risk for conditions like Alzheimer’s, Hashimoto’s, Graves, Heart Attacks, etc.
You also have access to the entire suite of other reports too.
Want your client to focus on just one section of a report? Or are they the data-driven type that loves huge lists to work on? You get to choose what to include in each client report.
Based on their individual data, with a single click, you can quickly and easily design their ideal health routine. All from within the platform.
Should you opt for the “Pro Business” plan, you can white-label the custom reports with your own logo and business information. Adding further professionalism and differentiating you from all the other wellness pros.
Plus, as of August 2023, they now offer a FREE tier for practitioners.
SelfDecode partnered with VitaminLab to design all-in-one custom supplement formulas tailored to your personal genetics.
The platform itself suggests the ingredients to include to mitigate top risks, but you get to choose what to add or remove.
This is exciting if you have the budget and want to get all your supplement needs fulfilled in one place.
The primary downside of these custom supplements, however, is price.
One order is for 90 days, with an order cost of about $109 per month.
From my own testing, the price stays the same regardless of how many ingredients I chose. I personally don’t use this, since I already get my supplements elsewhere.
Overall, I prefer the smart nutrition service called ELO Health, but it’s an option to keep everything in the SelfDecode ecosystem.
SelfDecode Pricing: Free & Beyond
The pricing structure of SelfDecode has changed many times since I joined.
By the time I publish this, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already out of date.
Originally, SelfDecode offered a lifetime access deal to early adopters. I didn’t hesitate.
Now, they break the service into three main tiers:
The SelfDecode Free plan is an awesome way to test drive their Personalized Health Reports, Suggestions (diet, lifestyle, supplements), Personality traits, and Diet & nutrition insights. All without even entering your credit card.
It’s not advertised on their website, and it requires you to upload your raw DNA file.
SelfDecode Individual Plans look like:
|DNA Kit + Health Insights ❤️||DNA Kit + Health & Ancestry Insights 🧬||Health Insights Plan 🩺|
|Requirements||–||–||Provide raw DNA file|
All plans cost $99 per year after the first year. To unlock Ancestry Insights, that costs an extra $50 just the first year. If you provide your own raw DNA file, you skip the initial fee.
SelfDecode Pro is a significant step up:
|Pro Starter 👍||Pro Premium 💰||Pro Business 📈|
|Requirements||–||–||Provide raw DNA file|
|Clients||7 per year||25 clients per year||100 clients per year|
|Extra Clients||$45 one-time fee||$40 one time fee||$35 one time fee|
Whether you’re an individual or a health professional, SelfDecode leads the industry in terms of power, science, versatility, and ease of use. Unfortunately, all that comes at a cost.
SelfDecode vs Popular DNA Analysis Software
The DNA analytics field is both new and established. Researchers come and go, and leave unsupported products in their wake. Old products produce reports that don’t evolve with the latest research.
They become useless, or worse when old science is proven inaccurate and you continue to base decisions on your antiquated reports.
A 60-Minutes episode exposed the many DNA testing companies stealing and selling your data. SelfDecode is the exception, taking privacy and your personal security seriously. Unlike others, they destroy your biodata after use.
A few alternatives have come to dominate the market. Here’s what you should know about how they stack up.
SelfDecode vs Promethease
After extensive research, I purchased a Promethease report many years ago. I ran my Ancestry data through it and got some (slightly) useful results.
I chose Promethease for its clinical-level granularity. I can see each SNP. And the report contains a section to view genetic interactions with diseases and substances. You can also sort by the magnitude of the genes. Ultimately, I ended up shelving it, and for a few reasons the report has sat untouched in my Google Drive for years:
- Outdated. The field of genetics advances fast. A year after my report, the scientific understanding of genes has changed but my hardcoded report hasn’t.
- Unintuitive. The report comes in an HTML file. Every time I open it, a walkthrough plays. And even then, the tool is difficult to navigate and interpret. This is coming from a data-driven tech nerd.
- Not actionable. Say I look up my genes related to a condition called sleep apnea. Half of the SNPs show an increased risk (with a low magnitude), and half show no risk (with a high magnitude). Should I focus my time and resources here? Or elsewhere? The report itself doesn’t provide actionable information.
When it came out, Promethease was the best option. Now, I only recommend it for those on a tight budget. Expect to dedicate dozens of hours to just researching how to interpret your results.
SelfDecode vs 23andMe (and Ancestry.com)
23andMe & Ancestry are focused on your family tree and ancestry. Both have limited ability to explore your genes beyond that. While their test results contain all the necessary genetic information to understand health, wellness, lifestyle, and peak performance implications, you’ll have to upload your data into another tool for meaningful insights.
If you don’t mind having your data in the hands of multiple companies, they often run sales on their DNA kits. I highly suggest avoiding this if possible. There’s a decent chance one of these third parties that purchased your raw DNA file will eventually suffer a data breach. Your DNA may get published to dark corners of the internet.
SelfDecode vs Genetic Genie
Genetic Genie (GG) is a great entry point for new users looking for barebones genetic analysis. By providing raw genetic data from services like 23andMe or Ancestry, you can three reports for free:
- Methylation (MTHFR)
People choose GG for their free reports. Genetic Genie doesn’t tell you anything fancy, nor anything that Promethease or SelfDecode don’t. In fact, the latter two contained more complete information. If you might want more later, look elsewhere.
SelfDecode vs NutraHacker
NutraHacker is another popular DNA analytics service that originally focused solely on nutrition and has branched out. They offer multiple reports, each at a different price:
- Detoxification and Methylation
- Carrier Status and Drug Response
Each report costs around $80.
Unfortunately, their reports lack recommendations or any indications of how to remedy problematic SNPs. They test only 195 SNPs compared to the over 85 million SNPs of SelfDecode. They also don’t use polygenic risk scoring.
SelfDecode vs CircleDNA
CircleDNA is a respected DNA testing brand that offers a wide variety of genetic reports and includes a complementary 3-minute consultation with orders. CircleDNA even offers expensive and mostly unnecessary whole genome sequencing.
There are several large drawbacks of CircleDNA. First, the reports don’t contain much information about the scientific backing/references. They build reports off of minimal variants. This is a key dealbreaker. CircleDNA also doesn’t generate actionable, science-based recommendations. Last, the service gets quite expensive. $629 for the closest comparable panel.
Future of SelfDecode
SelfDecode is innovating faster than any other healthtech company I’ve come across.
Not only has the UI changed several times over the years, but they’re constantly creating heavily requested new reports. As well as updating existing reports as the science advances.
Although I cannot give timelines for anything, SelfDecode is rumored to be considering/working on:
- Ancestry Insights
- Disease Predisposition Reports
- Pharmacogenetics Testing
- Health Scoring
- Profile Sharing
- Epigenetics Testing
- Wearable Data Integration
- Multi-Language Support
- Community Features
Big changes and major updates are just around the corner.
When they arrive, SelfDecode prices will likely increase again. So sign up and lock in your current rate now.
SelfDecode 2.0 Review Verdict: Scientific Health Wisdom Worth the Cost?
Health & wellness tech companies disappear in the blink of an eye. Oftentimes, selling your data to shady third parties as a last-ditch effort to stay afloat.
SelfDecode is here to stay. Founder Joe Cohen has proven himself with his preceding company, SelfHacked. One of the internet’s best resources for in-depth health science, and it only continues to grow.
But here’s an insider secret…Your DNA report is only as good as the science behind it Click To Tweet
Previously, I made the mistake of going with other DNA analytics services. These were favorite tools of the biohacking community and major influencers.
Without regular updating, old genetic reports become worse than useless…
You see, modern genetic understanding evolves rapidly.
Emerging research constantly discovers important new SNPs, and devalues others.
My previous genetic reports sit in Google Drive collecting dust.
Many doctors and experts are rightfully skeptical of this category of software. In a recent podcast, however, Dr. Peter Attia mentioned SelfDecode as his top pick for genetic testing.
Once I switched to SelfDecode, I haven’t looked back. And I regularly get to test other platforms.
For less than an annual doctor’s physical and a panel of lab testing, you get cutting-edge personalized health wisdom.
The earlier you join, the more impactful features you get grandfathered into. At no extra cost.
I view it as an investment in personalized medicine.
No company is forging the future of biohacking & wellness like the all-in-one SelfDecode platform.
Click the button below to join the personalized medicine movement today. Help build the future and use the exclusive discount code URBAN to save 10%:
Use the exclusive SelfDecode coupon code URBAN for 10% off
What’s your take on SelfDecode? A top biohacking app? Or do you care more about other biomarkers?
If you’ve tried it, leave a comment below and let me know!
SelfDecode 2 Review : Top DNA Test to Hack Your Genes?
SelfDecode kills cookie-cutter health tips. This DNA software creates actionable reports to hack your genes. Here's my full review and a special discount code.
Application Category: Genetics, DNA, Health, Wellness
- 198+ DNA reports
- Free tier
- Genetics blog personalized to your results
- World's largest database of 83M genetic variations
- Full suite of wellness tools and resources
- New reports, articles, and research added daily
- Practical & actionable recommendations
- Intuitive, easy to use UI
- Fast support
- Decody personal AI health coach
- Personalized supplements
- Blood lab optimizer
- New Selfdecode mobile app
- Powerful tools for health practitioners
- Wellness report whitelabeling
- UI frequently changes
- Expensive lifetime membership
- Long onboarding process
- No client dashboard
- Mobile app has bugs