Atlas Biomed Overview: Your Personal Health Manager?
Atlas Biomed is a UK-based health testing company that promises to offer distinctive insights into your health and well-being. Their services encompass details about your genetic predisposition for diseases, carrier risk status, and nutritional profile, all accessible through a personalized health dashboard.
Now, let’s delve into whether Atlas Biomed lives up to its claims.
Our DNA expert took Atlas Biomed’s DNA test, scrutinized the results report, and evaluated various aspects such as support and value for money. Let’s see if it delivers on its promises.
Overall, it’s a good test. The report covers various aspects of your health and provides interesting wellness information. However, it doesn’t give you any actionable tips or insights on what to do next. For example, LetsGetChecked provides 24/7 consultations with medical professionals, so you can always get support on your health journey.
Products & Services: Two Kits Available
Atlas Biomed offers two distinct tests: a DNA test and a microbiome test. In this review, I opted for the DNA test.
In addition to the UK, Atlas Biomed provides shipping services to 13 other countries, such as Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Russia, and Japan. However, it’s important to note that they do not currently ship to the United States, which can be disappointing for potential customers located in the US.
The DNA Test
With the DNA test, you can learn all about your genetic predisposition for certain health conditions, your physical traits and behaviors, nutritional needs, and ancestry. You also get full carrier risk screening to determine whether you carry genetic variants for diseases.
What’s included with the DNA test:
- Genetic predisposition for 20 diseases and conditions, such as obesity, high blood pressure, and Parkinson’s disease
- Carrier status for 317 health conditions, including hereditary breast cancer, pancreatitis, GRACILE Syndrome, and more
- Screening of 16 health-related traits, from reproductive health to blood levels
- Assessment of physical traits and behaviors, including eating habits, sense of smell, and appearance
- Risk evaluation for 3 sports injuries and an overview of your physiology
- Ancestry profile with ethnicity percentages and haplogroups
The Microbiome Test
The Microbiome test focuses more prominently on your gut health with more detailed nutritional insights, including advice on which foods to eat. It also assesses health risks relating to your microbiome and your bacterial diversity.
What’s included with the microbiome test:
- Disease protection from five gut-related health problems, such as Crohn’s disease and Type 2 Diabetes
- The composition of your microbiome bacteria and the diversity of your microbiome
- A full list of food recommendations based on your gut health
- An assessment of which nationality your diet is most similar to
- Your metabolism of fiber and impact on your microbiome
- How your body metabolizes eight different vitamins
- How your probiotic and beneficial bacteria levels compare to the population
- Your bacteria’s butyrate production potential compared to the population
How Atlas Biomed Works
Once I ordered the test online, it arrived at my doorstep the very next day, which meant there was hardly any waiting time. The test kit contained everything you’d expect – instructions, the sample tube, and a return envelope. To provide your sample, you’re required to spit into the tube until it hits the marked line.
The instructions included in the kit are straightforward and easy to understand, complete with small diagrams to break down each step for clarity. Just be sure to follow the guidelines about avoiding food, drink, and chewing gum before the test.
Collecting the saliva sample was simple, although it did take some time to fill the tube to the necessary level, especially with no food or drink allowed beforehand. Expect a dry mouth, but overall, it took me about five minutes.
If you opt for the microbiome test, be aware that you’ll need to provide a stool sample, so brace yourself!
After filling the tube, all I needed to do was register my sample using the unique barcode on the tube. This is a really important step, as otherwise the testing lab is unable to identify who the sample belongs to and you won’t be able to view your results.
You can also create an online profile when you register your test. This is where you access your report when it’s ready. And you can track the status of your sample here, too. It shows you when it’s arrived at the lab when it’s being processed, and of course, when it’s complete.
I was pleased to see the returns envelope is prepaid, so there are no extra costs involved.
Your next task is to take the lifestyle questionnaire, as this is used alongside your DNA to inform your results. It only took me a maximum of 15 minutes and it involves really simple, mostly multiple-choice questions so nothing that requires too much thinking time.
It asks you questions about your lifestyle, including whether you smoke, drink, your diet and nutritional intake, your job, and your exercise habits. You must enter all the typical information too, like your weight, height, date of birth, and waist circumference.
There are no immediate results after completing your quiz, but you can see how your answers influence your health when you get your report.
5 Standout Features of Atlas Biomed
Carrier Risk Screening & Child Risk
One of the best things about Atlas Biomed is that it screens your DNA to tell you whether you carry the genetic variants for specific health conditions. A lot of tests examine your genetic predisposition towards developing diseases yourself, but don’t tell you that you could be a healthy carrier or how it might affect your family. Atlas Biomed is different.
Atlas Biomed examines your carrier status for 317 health conditions, which includes conditions like Cystic Fibrosis, hereditary breast cancer, and Tay-Sachs Disease. There are more diseases here than I’ve seen with any other test, so I would say it’s a go-to if you’re wanting familial health risk screening.
From my online dashboard, I could see all of the health conditions tested for, alongside my carrier status. In most cases, this shows no genetic variant with the associated health condition.
I was very interested to see whether I carried the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genes since my mother suffered from breast cancer. Thankfully, I don’t. But my results did show something interesting.
I am a healthy carrier of a gene that causes Haemochromatosis Type 1, which I was completely unaware of. I have never even heard of the condition. I was glad to see I could click on the condition name to learn more about it and how it affects health.
Clicking on the condition name took me to a separate page that gave a description of the condition, the names of the genetic variants I carry, and most importantly, what to do next. It told me to consult my genetic counselor for more advice.
Another great feature is the fact it tells you the possibility of passing this gene on to my children.
It covers all scenarios, even telling you the likelihood of your children developing the condition rather than just being a gene carrier like myself, which is great for family planning.
Genetic Predisposition for Health Conditions
Alongside carrier risk screening, Atlas Biomed allows you to explore the likelihood of you developing conditions.
It screens for 20 different diseases that are influenced by your lifestyle, such as Parkinson’s Disease, obesity, Alzheimer’s, Crohn’s Disease, and even some you wouldn’t expect, like varicose veins and migraines.
Atlas Biomed takes into account the answers from the initial health survey to inform your results, especially factors like whether you smoke, how often you exercise, and the types of foods you eat. It combines your scores with your DNA results to determine your risk level.
My results, for example, showed that I have an average risk of developing Parkinson’s Disease, age-related macular degeneration, and ulcerative colitis. I also have a moderate risk of osteoporosis and peripheral artery disease.
What I like is that all results are color-coded so it’s easy to identify your risk level. It also shows you whether your risk level is likely determined by your DNA or your ‘other factors’ – your lifestyle questionnaire.
Here you can see that my DNA gives me an elevated risk of Osteoporosis, but the answers to my health questionnaire have lowered my risk somewhat. You can then click on any of the conditions to learn more about them and your risk level.
It shows you the prevalence of disease in your gender category, alongside your genetic impact and other factors, to give you a total risk profile. I really appreciated this level of information to help me understand what my results actually meant for my health.
As I continued to scroll on the page, I could see all the different genetic variants I carry, as well as a detailed overview of the disease itself. It also gives you some small lifestyle tips so you can implement changes right away.
For me, it told me to avoid smoking and to limit my alcohol intake. Clicking on each didn’t give me much information though.
The actionable tips are quite vague, so this is definitely an area where Atlas Biomed could improve. For example, how much alcohol is too much? I’d expect my results to tell me. LetsGetChecked, for instance, has a 24/7 free consultation service so you can ask about things like these and get your answers quickly.
A Well-Rounded View of Your Wellness
Atlas Biomed takes your health one step further with loads of interesting and fun facts about your wellness and traits. It examines 11 factors like your perception of taste, sense of smell, appearance, and body traits.
For me, it showed that I will be slow to get gray hairs (thank goodness), that I have an overly sensitive smell towards cilantro, and that I have the photic sneeze reflex. I didn’t think I suffered with the last one, so that’s definitely an interesting insight.
You also get nutritional insights, particularly in terms of your vitamin levels and intolerances. You can see how your body metabolizes caffeine, alcohol, gluten, and lactose to determine whether you have any sensitivities.
Apparently I metabolize caffeine very quickly so I am unlikely to experience headaches, insomnia, and other related symptoms. I’d say this is very accurate.
But I did question the gluten intolerance result. I know I react badly to some gluten, so I was expecting to see some intolerance there.
One thing it has helped me with is my vitamin supplements. It assesses 17 essential nutrients, including iron, vitamin D, omega 3, calcium, and others, to tell you where you may have deficiencies.
As you can see, I have lower levels of iron, omega 3, omega 6, and vitamin E, so I knew I needed to purchase vitamin supplements for these nutrients or amend my diet.
Trace Your Ancestry
Your Atlas Biomed test comes with bonus ancestry information, so it offers a lot more than just health and wellness. A lot of DNA tests make you pay extra for a separate ancestry kit, so I was pleasantly surprised that it’s already included at no added fee.
It compares your ancestry to 153 geographical regions to determine your ethnicity percentages, and it shows you how much of your DNA you share with neanderthals.
My results show that I am 100% European, but then I can also explore my exact ancestry composition by looking deeper into where in Europe I’m from. As you can see, the majority of my heritage comes from West Europe and Central Europe.
Clicking onto the dedicated ancestry page, I can then see the exact countries in each region that make up my DNA with accurate percentages.
The interactive map changes as you click on the different regions, which is helpful for pinpointing where in the world you come from.
Another great ancestry feature is the haplogroup mapping. Atlas Biomed predicts your maternal haplogroups to show you how your ancestors moved around the globe.
According to my results, I belong to haplogroup U6a1a1, which spread from Western Asia to Africa thousands of years ago.
You don’t get that much information about the haplogroup. In fact, you only really get what’s there in front of you – there’s no separate page to explore this further. If you’re interested in more details about your ancestry, I recommend AncestryDNA, which has the largest database of records in the world and offers a free trial to build your family tree.
Actionable Lifestyle Recommendations
Using your DNA results and answers to the lifestyle questionnaire, Atlas Biomed creates actionable recommendations for you to improve your health.
You can see all of the recommendations available on your dashboard, alongside those that you have already achieved and those that need action, which is great for keeping track.
For example, in the lifestyle questionnaire, I selected that I already drink caffeine every day, and that I eat at least 375g of vegetables per day, so these were within my achieved recommendations.
Since I am at-risk of hernias, I was told to avoid lifting heavy weights, and also to consult a genetic counselor or GP about being a carrier of Haemochromatosis.
It also shows you how each lifestyle recommendation relates to your DNA results and health questionnaire, which helped me understand why I needed to make these changes.
Reading Your Results
In the instructions pamphlet, it says results can take anywhere between 4-8 weeks. I received notification on my online dashboard that my sample was in the lab for processing three weeks after returning it, and by the fourth week, it was ready. Impressive.
The online dashboard itself is a great feature. It’s easy to navigate and visually appealing. Upon signing in, you’re given a snapshot of your most important health insights, alongside your personalized recommendations and lifestyle tips.
You can click on any of the overview insights to learn more about your results. Or use the toolbar on the left-hand side to visit a specific topic area page and see all the biomarkers that were tested.
Clicking on the sports pane, for example, takes me to the dedicated sports results page, where I can see my physiology and metabolism results alongside my risk level for three fitness-related injuries.
You’re given a quick overview of your results in terms of whether you tested high, low, or average for the different factors. You can then click on any of these to learn more about what it means. But I was left quite disappointed when I did this.
Switching to my health-related traits results, for example, it showed me that I have a high level of the sex hormone binding globulin.
As you can see, there’s a description about the hormone itself, which is fairly straightforward to follow.
But my results don’t really show me what it means, and I have no idea whether a high level of this hormone is good or not. I felt like I needed to undertake a lot of my own research to really understand my results and what they meant for me.
This was the case with the majority of the rest of my report, too. Some factors like sense of smell, insomnia, and migraines are easy to grasp and I didn’t need much more information. But I think a lot of the report is too scientific and leaves you rather confused.
Returning to the dashboard, you can see your actionable insight recommendations, which is a good feature. These tell you what changes you need to make to your lifestyle, whether it be adding nuts to your diet, what type of diet to follow, improving your sleep, or something else.
I was told to add more oily fish to my diet, and could click on that recommendation to get more information. It gave me advice on the types of fish to include, which saved me some time in research so I could get started right away.
Compare that to another recommendation, though, and I got next to nothing. It told me to follow a Mediterranean diet, but gave me no tips on which foods to add. There was a very brief summary of the diet itself, but without much insight, I have no idea how to get started.
And really, who is going to check out the scientific publications? That’s too much information for anyone. I would’ve appreciated a link to some blog posts that could tell me more about the diet, since Atlas Biomed couldn’t provide me with that info.
For quick insights, though, it more than does the job. And you can download your raw data to take to your healthcare provider, which is helpful.
A Follow-Up Genetic Consultation
As part of my test, I received a complimentary 30-minute call with a genetic counselor to go through my results. It’s worth noting that there are usually charges for this service though, costing you around £50.
Although technical difficulties meant we couldn’t engage in a video call, the phone call I had with the genetic counselor was very insightful and helpful.
She talked me through anything in my report that stood out, such as the fact I am a carrier of Haemochromatosis. She also asked if there was anything specific I was concerned about or wanted to discuss. For example, she advised me to go and get tested separately for the BRCA 1 gene, as I said I was concerned about my risk.
My genetic counselor couldn’t offer much insight in terms of the nutrition or sports side of my report as she explained this wasn’t her area of expertise, but in terms of health concerns, she was able to answer any questions I had and put my mind at ease.
Price: What You See is What You Get
Both of Atlas Biomed’s tests are priced exactly the same at £149, and I’d say they offer good value for money. With either test, you get tons of interesting insights, from traits and behaviors to your eating habits and risk of diseases.
The carrier risk screening for 317 health conditions with the DNA test is one of Atlas Biomed’s best features, and it’s rare you’ll find that elsewhere for such a good price. Just make sure you really know what you’re getting from either test first. I was expecting more detailed nutrition advice from the DNA test, but it turns out you only get food recommendations with the microbiome kit.
Still, nutritional screening with vitamin reports was enough for me. And it only charges £20 more than Living DNA’s wellbeing kit, which doesn’t include any microbiome information alongside nutrition and exercise advice.
There are extra costs for shipping your kit to your home, which is a flat fee of £9.99 in the UK, but it differs from country to country. You can get free shipping if you buy more than one kit. You don’t need to pay to return it though, since the prepaid envelope is included in your kit.
Support: Is Anyone There?
Atlas Biomed does a good job of keeping you updated with your kit along the way, especially the online tracking system accessible from your dashboard. You also get emails to let you know when your sample has arrived at the lab and when your report is ready. But support doesn’t go any further than that.
Atlas Biomed offers no live chat service or online form. You can’t even see how to get in touch with them from your dashboard, which is unusual. Usually, there’s at least an email address.
Digging deeper, I found a customer care email on the website, so I decided to reach out and ask about paying for the test with insurance or HSA/FSA cards. They got back to me within four hours, which is one positive at least.
There are some FAQs on site relating to delivery, what to expect from your test, and the science behind them, which are useful for general queries. For questions about your report, though, or specific questions, there’s very little available.
Your Health Insights, With a Little Help from Yourself
When it comes to assessing your health and wellness, Atlas Biomed appears to offer it all.
It assesses your carrier risk for over 300 conditions, it tells you whether you’re at risk of developing health problems, and it analyzes unique traits and behaviors. It even gives you bonus ancestry information at no further cost.
The results came quickly, and the online dashboard is one of the best I’ve seen. It’s also one of the few tests that combines nutrition and exercise information into health disease screening.
But it does fall short in a few areas. While the dashboard is great to look at and fine for a general overview, it gives you very little detail about what everything means for your health. It’s far too scientific and needs more actionable insights, so you aren’t left wondering where to turn to next.
There’s also no support available, at all. For a leading health and wellness testing company, I expected more.
That being said, Atlas Biomed does live up to its promise of offering unique health insights. If you just want to get some general information about your wellness and your fine with taking care of your own research, go right ahead.
Does Atlas Biomed accept insurance?
No, Atlas Biomed doesn’t accept insurance. After reaching out to customer support, it doesn’t appear to accept HSA/FSA cards either.
How do I take an Atlas Biomed test?
The sample methods for Atlas Biomed’s kits vary depending on which test you buy.
The DNA test requires a saliva sample, so you need to spit into a tube and mail it back. The microbiome test, however, requires a stool sample.
Everything you need to take your test is included in your kit pack, including detailed instructions, equipment, and the prepaid returns envelope.
How accurate is Atlas Biomed?
Atlas Biomed offers 99.9% accuracy. Your DNA is analyzed using DNA microarray technology to produce the most accurate results available. It’s impossible for any test to offer 100% accuracy, but Atlas Biomed is very close.
Where does Atlas Biomed ship to?
Atlas Biomed ships all over the world – this includes the UK, Belgium, Canada, Austria, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxemburg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Turkey and the Netherlands. Unfortunately, it doesn’t ship to the US.
What can I learn from an Atlas Biomed test?
Both of Atlas Biomed’s tests can tell you lots of interesting and important things about your health, including:
- Your genetic predisposition towards developing certain health conditions
- Whether you carry genetic variants for health problems
- How likely it is that you’ll pass on genes for health problems to your children
- Your nutritional needs and ideal food types
- Your response to exercise and risk of injuries
- Insights into your blood levels and hormones
- Detail about your physical traits, behaviors, and characteristics
- The function of your microbiome and gut bacteria