Frequently Asked Questions

About Nell

Why choose Nell Health?

Nell is personalised and exactly tailored to you and your body. We know that no body is ordinary, hence our approach is individual to maximise the benefits you’ll experience. With the help of nutrigenetics, data-driven lifestyle reports and consultations, Nell offers accessible and actionable insights into how to best treat your body and effectively reach your health goals.

We are committed to providing the highest quality insights, and that means getting our science right. Our science team constantly evaluates scientific evidence to ensure that Nell is offering you high quality actionable outcomes that truly work.

What will I discover with a Nell DNA test?

A Nell DNA test unlocks the secrets your body holds. We uncover over 20 diet and exercise insights, including gluten and dairy intolerances, potential vitamin deficiencies and exercise types that suit you.

What you don’t discover with Nell is disease risk. We only collect and analyse DNA related to nutrition, not illnesses.

How do I book a consultation?

You’ll be paired with one of our experts and choose a mutually available time on Calendly for a 20 minute consultation. Please ensure that you have read your report before and have it easily accessible during the consultation.

What does a consultation entail?

The consultation helps bring your Nell report alive. Our experts will break down each report section, detailing the results and explaining the nuances of the complex field of genetics. They also open the conversation, giving you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about your insights, your body and how to best use this valuable information.

Who should take a genetic test?

Anyone and everyone who is interested in knowing themselves on a genetic level. Our tests are designed for beginners looking to improve their lifestyle to elite athletes wanting to improve their performance. Our tests encompass markers for diet, exercise, nutrition and lifestyle risk factors.

Do we test under 18s?

In accordance with our company genetics code of conduct, we will not knowingly test anyone under the age of 18, or anyone with reduced capacity to consent.

How often do I need to take a genetic test?

Although your DNA never changes we are constantly looking at adding new health areas to our test. As we do not store samples (to meet data protection requirements) you would need to complete a new test to understand your profile in any new health areas.

Can I buy a Nell DNA test as an individual?

We are currently working on offering Nell DNA tests to individuals. If you would like to be the first to know once we have released, sign up to our mailing list here or follow us on @Nellhealth.

Nell's Process

How long does it take for my DNA kit to arrive?

We typically dispatch DNA kits to customers within 24-hours of the order being placed. There are some occasions where we might be delayed in dispatching your box, i.e. if you place your order over the weekend or a Bank Holiday.

You'll be notified via email when your box is dispatched to you. All of our home DNA kits are sent using Royal Mail.

Why do Nell use saliva for genetic analysis and not blood?

Nell uses saliva for genetic analysis as it is the quickest, easiest and least invasive tissue to collect. Additionally, saliva samples are very stable and can remain stable for long periods of time at room temperature. Obtaining DNA from blood can give a cleaner sample (ie fewer missing data points) but the process is more invasive and the sample is harder to transport and store.

Why do we use buccal swabs rather than saliva collection tubes?

Buccal swabs are a convenient, user-friendly method to collect DNA. Oragene is a sample tube that you spit in, another convenient method. We have chosen buccal swabs, but both are effective and convenient sample collection methods.

What happens when I return my sample to Nell?

Once your sample is received by the team at Nell, we’ll prepare your sample to send to our lab partner, LGC.

How long will it take to get my results?

It usually takes between 3-5 weeks for the samples to be processed. If it has been longer since you have sent your sample and you have not yet received your Nell report, please contact us here.

Understanding your results

Why do we have 0, 1 and 2 SNP results?

Each individual has 23 pairs of chromosomes, totalling to 46 chromosomes. These 23 pairs of chromosomes are inherited from your parents, half of which come from your mother and the other from your father.

At every position in your genome, you have 2 alleles (forms of the gene) one from each parent.The alleles can be the same (homozygous) or different (heterozygous).

By analysing your DNA, at key positions, Nell can identify if you have inherited an A,T,C or G base and can compare this to the base commonly found at that position.

If your results report shows 0 SNP this means you have the same base that is commonly found in the population. If your results show you have 1 or 2 alleles it means you have a rare allele and genetic predisposition to certain conditions.

How is the overall result for complex health areas calculated?

A complex health area is any health area where two or more SNPs are being sequenced. An overall result is then calculated and shown in the Results section and main body of the report.

The individual SNP results are shown in the Appendix. When all SNP results in a given health area are No SNP, then the overall result is no SNP. When all SNP results in a given health area are 2 alleles, then the overall result is 2 alleles. Any other combination of results gives an overall 1 SNP result.

Due to having 3 discrete categories that the overall result must fall into (ie No SNP, 1 allele, 2 alleles) this is the most logical calculation method. Having a more continuous method of displaying the results for complex health areas such as a scale is suggested in the future.

With a scale, the risk would increase in an additive manner as the number of risk alleles increased, going from no increased risk (where all results are No SNP) to high increased risk (where all results are 2 alleles).

How does ethnicity affect our advice?

Most genetic research is based on individuals from European descent. In fact in 2016, over 80% of individuals that had their genome sequenced were European.

This lack of diversity in genomic data means that some of the genes we sequence will be less relevant and accurate for people in under-represented groups. There are two main issues.

Firstly, ethnicity affects minor allele frequency, making some genes that we sequence less relevant to specific ethnic groups. For example, individuals with one or more A bases at the ALDH2 gene are less able to metabolise alcohol. The presence of this base is extremely common among Japanese but almost non-existent in Europeans.

Additionally, although the direction of risk will be the same (i.e. the presence of a specific base pair will increase the risk of a trait no matter what ethnic background they are from), the strength of the link between genotype and phenotype will not necessarily be the same due to gene-gene interactions.

Do all SNPs carry the same change in risk?

No, every SNP that exists (not just those we analyse) has a different risk magnitude, but we can’t pinpoint that magnitude. What we do know is the relative risk. We know that by having a specific SNP the risk is greater than having no SNP at all.

This is what makes us stand out. We understand the information on risk magnitude isn’t available yet and we don’t pretend we know. As a responsible, science-backed company we only discuss and analyse SNPs we understand the relative risks for.

What happens if my sample cannot be analysed/I get no results?

On occasion, results may be uncalled, meaning that the lab was unable to get a result for a specific SNP. On the raw data this will appear as a ‘?’ or ‘uncalled’. If less than 4 health areas are missing, we send the report, stating in the summary email the missing health areas. If 4 to 8 health areas are missing, we send the report, stating in the summary email the missing health areas as well as offering a free new test. If more than 8 health areas are missing, we do not send the report.

Nell's science partners

Why do we use LGC?

We chose to use LGC for our DNA extraction and processing needs as LGC is an International leader in life sciences with 20 years proven excellence in genomics and advanced sequencing technologies. They hold multiple accreditations and can offer a unified portfolio from test components to instrumentation.

Do LGC provide accurate analyses/are we confident in them?

Yes, LGC is a leader in the genomics field, a review of our partnership with them has been through an internal review process. LGC have been transparent with any problems that could potentially occur and how they would be rectified.

How LGC results are processed/what can go wrong?

Samples are sent to LGC within 2 weeks of receipt. Each sample is efficiently processed by LGC and undergoes DNA extraction & amplification.

The sample is then analysed using KASP genotyping to identify the SNPs present. The SNPs are then analysed using a cluster plot analysis.

- DNA extraction from a buccal swab (using Kleargene technology) and amplification
- KASP genotyping (Komparative allele specific PCR) - to analyse SNPs
- A very forgiving PCR chemistry, will work even with poor quality DNA
- See KASP fact sheet for more details on the process

Reasoning behind errors in processing (unlikely but possible):

- Sometimes a low amount of random amplification
- Contaminated sample - food, toothpaste, mouthwash
- No DNA on the swab
- Sample doesn’t perform consistently, moves groups

Data protection and processing

Is my data secure?

Yes! We take data security very seriously and have protocols in place to protect our customers’ data. We work with a partner laboratory to analyse genetic samples - We share no names with our samples, only ID numbers. Please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use for more information. All data can be deleted from our, and our partner labs, systems at your request.

What happens to my DNA sample?

Any sample you provide to us will be retained for up to 3 months, but you can contact us at any time to ask us to destroy it and we shall do so.


Why should I choose Nell?

Corporate wellness programs are no longer a benefit, they are an expectation. However, the usual one-size-fits-all approach does not work anymore. Employees want personalised programs that meet their personal needs. Nell uses genetic dispositions data, blood biomarkers and lifestyle assessments create personalised actionable insights that employees use to create tangible change in their wellbeing, with the help of our genetics and medical experts through virtual consultations.

No body is ordinary nor the same, so it is essential that your wellbeing program reflects that. Incorporating Nell into your existing benefits program will positively influence health lifestyles on the individual level, all of which create a holistic, healthy and happy culture.

How does it work?

You can allocate a set allowance per employee who can then choose exactly which package they’d like to opt-in for.


Why should I join Nell?

For clinical partners, Nell would be a welcome addition to your health screenings programme. With the increasingly worrying national health issue of obesity, Nell’s personalised actionable insights is an effective way to guide patients towards their health goals and boost engagement.

For private dieticians, a Nell partnership would open you up to a new client base.