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What Is Biohacking? 8 Ways to Biohack Yourself for Better Health
By Kissairis Munoz
August 9, 2019
From earning enough miles for a trip around the world to getting free goods at the grocery store, these days it seems like you can hack nearly anything to get the most bang for your buck. If only we could hack our own bodies, right?
Figure out just how they tick so that we can feel our best and have our bodies performing optimally all the time. What a treat that would be.
Except … it already exists. Welcome to the world of biohacking.
What Is Biohacking?
Biohacking is the process of making changes to your lifestyle in order to “hack” your body’s biology and feel your best.
By biohacking yourself, you can actually transform your body so you feel more energized, more productive and, overall, like the best possible version of yourself.
It doesn’t have to involve being a mad scientist and running crazy experiments with your body. Instead, it means using various hacks to see what works best for you (which could be very different from what works for Susan down the street!) and using it to live your best life.
Now, some people will tell you that all sorts of gadgets and measurements are necessary to biohack yourself, but there’s something to be said for the good old-fashioned way — making small changes to your lifestyle, giving your body time to adjust and then seeing how you feel.
You stick with the things that work for you, and ditch the ones that don’t. After all, when it comes to how your body feels, you’re the expert!
History of Biohacking
“Biohacking” is a broad term that refers to a number of different things. Historically, the term was mentioned in a 1988 article in the Washington Post discussing biotechnology being brought to the masses in the form of “fiddling with the genetic code of a living organism.”
More recently, experts like Ben Greenfield and Dave Asprey (the founder of Bulletproof) have developed an art when it comes to biohacking. By sharing their experiences, “hacks” and products, they hope to help followers manipulate nutrition, fitness and lifestyle to improve their health.
Types of Biohacking
Typically, biohacking falls into three categories: nutrigenomics , do-it-yourself biology and grinder biohacking. Here’s an explanation of these biohacking meanings:
- Nutrigenomics : This is described as the study of nutritionally manipulating the activity of your body. Nutrigenomics is also related to other sub-categories in biohacking like sleep manipulation, exercise, attention hacking, adjusting environmental triggers (like sound and light) and stress management.
- This type of biohacking is really just building on the concept that our bodies are ever-changing and using these discoveries to live better. Food, activity and various stimuli alter your body’s function, and nutrigenomics involves learning how these interactions work.
- Do-it-yourself biology ( DIYBio ) : DIYBio is a biohacking subculture of people who conduct biological experiments and study life sciences outside of conventional means. It’s a movement that started in the early 2000s.
- Many “teachers” in this crusade are formal educators or scientific researchers who want to show the average Joe how to conduct experiments. While it’s a fascinating movement, this subset of biohacking is focused more on studying and testing unproven science and is often criticized for having no official oversight.
- Grinder biohacking: This is a subset of DIYBio that fixates on technology implants or chemical manipulation of the body. Grinder attempts to push the limits of technology and the human body to their limits, practicing body modification to improve their “hardware.”
- These are typically very risky techniques that aren’t recommended.
Biohacking vs. Biotechnology
Biotechnology uses biological processes or applications for industrial or other purposes. It involves living systems and organisms to develop or modify products and serves as a broader term for this kind of technological advancement.
It’s not uncommon for advancements in biotechnology research to inspire biohackers when it comes to inventing or using new biohacking technology. However, holistic biohacking that involves a biohacking diet or lifestyle change does not require or interact with biotechnology.
8 Ways to Biohack Yourself Today
What is biohacking good for in your life, though? Here are multiple ways to biohack yourself:
1. Try an elimination diet
If you struggle with food allergies , have trouble digesting foods, experience skin issues like eczema and acne, or find yourself constantly fatigued, it’s probably time to biohack yourself with an elimination diet .
An elimination diet may sound scary, but it’s really just a short-term eating plan to figure out if the foods you consume play a role in whatever health issues you’re experiencing. Research shows that an elimination diet is an effective way to recognize triggering foods so they can be avoided for those dealing with a food allergy.
Here’s how it works: For three to four weeks, you remove foods that are known allergens, giving any inflammation time to go down and offering you a clean slate. Gluten, soy, dairy, peanuts and corn are all foods to cut out during this time.
Then, slowly, you’ll re-introduce the banned foods, paying attention to how you feel and how your body responds physically. If you suspect a food you’ve added back into your diet is an irritant, you’ll remove it again and see if symptoms clear up.
An elimination diet is one of the best biohacks you can do for yourself. Some people don’t understand how good they can truly feel until they remove some of the worst food offenders from their diets.
Want to spend a little money to figure out exactly what you’re reacting badly to? Many naturopaths, integrative physicians and even some biohacking fitness centers offer an option to take a blood or urine test to pinpoint food allergens or sensitivities.
This might be a great idea for you if an elimination diet doesn’t seem to reveal any clear perpetrators.
2. Kick sugar to the curb
Giving addictive sugar the boot is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. It can be a pretty tough biohack but one of the most rewarding.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to eliminate naturally occurring sugars, like the ones you find in fruits and dairy. Added sugars are the ones you want to worry about.
You’ll find those in products like soft drinks, processed foods and sweets. They’re also in foods like flavored yogurt, condiments (check those barbecue sauce and ketchup labels!) and energy drinks.
What makes sugar so bad for your body?
Studies show that it increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, leads to mood swings, increases inflammation in the body and lowers energy — and that’s the abbreviated list! (Read more about the benefits of a sugar-free diet .)
How do you reduce your sugar habit? Learn how to measure sugar, look for it in all its forms on labels (hint: anything ending in “ose” and natural sweeteners like honey, molasses and fruit juice still count) and limit processed foods.
3. Change when you eat
Did you know that by simply changing when you eat, you can biohack your body? Intermittent fasting is gaining popularity as a method of losing weight and normalizing insulin sensitivity, which can help prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.
It also regulates ghrelin levels, more commonly known as the hunger hormone, which tells your brain when you’re hungry, and leptin , which sends signals to the brain when you’re full and should stop eating.
The cool thing about fasting is that there is more than one way to do it. Some people opt for alternate-day fasting , where on fasting days, you limit your calories to 25 percent of your normal intake and then eat your usual amount of calories on non-fasting days.
There’s also time-restricted eating , where you only eat during a certain window during the day (if you eat dinner early and tend to have a late breakfast, you already do this!) and a more spiritual approach, the Daniel fast . Though intermittent fasting can take some time to get used to, depending on your health goals, it may be a good biohacking option.
4. Sleep more
Sleep is often missing from conversations about losing weight and improving your health and mood — and that’s a major mistake. If you don’t getting enough sleep each night (usually between seven to nine hours) and suffer from sleep deprivation , you’re putting yourself at risk for a host of health problems, including a higher risk for chronic disease, a weakened immune system, depression, trouble concentrating, irritability, an increased appetite and out-of-whack hormones.
In fact, research published in Nature and Science of Sleep indicates that sleep disruptions have substantial adverse short- and long-term health consequences.
There’s one step to biohacking sleep: Get more of it! Of course, I know it’s not always that simple.
These seven natural sleep aids can help. Some of my favorite suggestions are sticking to a regular sleep schedule, even on weekends, to keep your circadian rhythms in check.
Keeping electronics out of bed is important, too. The lights from your smartphone tell your brain it’s time to wake up, not drift off to sleep.
If you use biohacking for insomnia, a DIY essential oils sleep aid just might do the trick.
5. Eat fat — lots of it
Looking for a diet where eating a lot of fat isn’t just encouraged, it’s required? The keto diet might be for you!
While the keto diet is experiencing some serious popularity right now, it’s not a fad diet. On the keto diet, you try to get your body to ketosis , a metabolic state where the body uses mostly ketones, not carbohydrates, for energy.
This happens when fat, not glucose (carbohydrates), provide most of body’s calories. (It can also be induced by multiple-day fasting, but that’s not a long-term option for most people.)
On a keto diet, you seriously restrict carbs and sugar and instead eat keto-friendly foods like healthy fats (coconut oil, ghee, nuts, etc.), non-starchy veggies (goodbye, potatoes) and foods that are high in protein but have no or low carbs, like grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish and eggs.
Studies show that the keto diet is very effective at promoting weight loss, especially if you are very overweight. It can reduce heart disease markers like high cholesterol and could even fight brain disease.
In fact, the keto diet was originally used as a way to manage seizures in people with epilepsy. If you already eat relatively well but want to challenge yourself even further, biohacking your diet and going keto could be what you need.
6. Zone out with meditation
What we feed our minds is just as important as what we feed our bodies. Meditation is the ultimate brain hack.
Studies have proved that the benefits of meditation are huge: from reducing pain and increasing sleep quality to lowering inflammation and boosting productivity. If you suffer from stress or anxiety, meditation can also be a really effective way of naturally dealing with symptoms.
Establishing a daily meditation practice is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.
If you’re concerned that you can’t stop your brain from buzzing long enough to meditate, don’t worry. Guided meditation can help you get into the habit.
There are also dozens of smartphone apps you can use. Some will alert you at the same time each day or have specific meditations for different purposes, like starting the day with a clear head or helping you unwind.
Healing prayer is another option that might speak to you.
7. Kick off your shoes
How often do you walk barefoot in the grass or feel the sand crunch between your toes? If the answer is “not enough,” you should definitely consider grounding as your next biohack.
Grounding, also known as earthing , is a bit of a biohacking secret. It means allowing your feet to connect with the surface below them and the powerful energy that brings.
When we spend time barefoot on the earth, our feet act as electrical currents, allowing the natural electrical charges that the earth produces to flow through us.
Research published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine suggests that grounding has the potential to act as a “simple, natural and accessible clinical strategy against the global epidemic of noncommunicable, degenerative, inflammatory-related diseases.” Grounding can improve your sleep, reduce inflammation and encourage you to enjoy nature more and get your dose of vitamin D — plus, it’s free!
Try it by taking a short walk sans shoes to the mailbox, strolling on the beach or even barbecuing barefoot. As the weather gets colder, minimalist shoes can help keep your feet in closer contact with the earth.
Active people often enjoy biohacks like “rewilding,” similar to the thought process behind earthing. Many biohacking experts teach that we should fight against our natural “domestication” and, instead, spend more time outside, eat less processed foods, drink better water, be exposed to sunlight and learn to love the outdoors.
We were made to thrive using these methods, so it makes sense to do your yoga routine in the backyard tomorrow — where you not only benefit from the exercise, but also from just being outside under the sun.
8. Get up, stand up
Most of us spend our days going from sitting in our cars, to sitting at a desk, to sitting in the car some more. Rinse and repeat, and we spend an extraordinary amount of our lives seated.
All that sitting harms our health and might even be as dangerous as smoking.
There’s an easy fix to that: Stand more . You don’t need to invest in a standing desk (although it’s helpful!). Instead, it’s how often we stand, not how long we stand for, that matters.
You can biohack your way to better health with various exercise hacks , too — simply by getting up and talking to colleagues instead of sending an email, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, standing up and pacing during long phone calls, or even setting a reminder on your phone for every 60–90 minutes to take a quick lap around the office.
Other Biohacking Techniques
More cutting-edge biohacking principles include things like biohacking nootropics (“smart” drugs), neurofeedback, heart rate variability training and inversion therapy.
Nootropics are cognitive-enhancing drugs and supplements. Some are relatively healthy, safe and well-investigated (turmeric and vitamin D supplements, for example), while others which are often considered dangerous or available on with a prescription, like amphetamine and eugeroics.
The simple definition for neurofeedback is taking advantage of the plasticity of your brain by retraining it how to respond to various emotions. This typically involves EEG monitoring and then playing “games” that give you positive and negative feedback based on your desired result.
This process is claimed by many to increase creativity and even IQ.
Heart rate variability training involves using biohacking technology to sense when your heartbeat changes to reflect stress — you go from a varied amount of time between each beat to a fixed rhythm when you’re under duress of some kind.
Typical technology used for this would then warn you and walk you through what to listen to and how to breathe to avoid giving into the stress.
Some biohackers also like to practice inversion therapy, the complex process of hanging upside down. The simple function of forcing blood to your brain supposedly strengthens capillaries within the brain and can increase mental performance.
Proponents of this technique also claim it changes blood pressure regulation when done on a regular basis.
There are also ways to maximize workouts using biohacking. Some of these are very straightforward, like tracking your exact workout times, specific exercises and results to develop a schedule and a routine that is exactly right for your body or practicing breathing exercises as part of your regular workout.
Other workout biohacks are a little more complex — and potentially expensive. For example, biohacker Ben Greenfield says that lifting weights underwater in the cold is one of his favorite biohacking secrets.
The concept of these types of routines is to use very exact methods to achieve maximum results, but they should be done with caution, particularly because biohacked workouts can be tricky and potentially unsafe if they are done incorrectly (or designed without reliable scientific results to support them).
Does It Work?
When you are working to eat, move and think in a way that positively impacts your body and the way you feel, then biohacking definitely works. It can help you feel better and even reduce your risk of disease.
Biohacking weight loss is even possible when you work to nourish your body with healthy foods that reduce inflammation, get enough rest, and stand up and move your body throughout the day.
That said, grinder biohacking or DIY biohacking may not work or even be safe, especially when it’s not done by a trained professional. There’s a range of biohacking products and technology that may work in the short term but over time can cause adverse side effects, infections and inflammatory reactions.
Does implanting a sound-transmitting magnet into your ear really serve as built-in headphones? Or do brain-computer interfaces that are implanted underneath the skull enable telepathy and circumvent memory loss?
For one thing, there isn’t enough research to determine whether or not these biohacking projects are effective. On top of that, this obviously goes way beyond boosting your health with diet and barefoot walks on the grass.
Biohacking your body may work, to a certain extent, depending on how you define biohacking and the extremity of your approach.
Blood Testing and Biohacking
If you’re interested in biohacking to improve your health, you may find it helpful to have blood work done to measure your body’s nutrient counts and blood components. Biohackers believe that blood testing gives them a sense of what their bodies are doing.
When you continue to blood test and you see small changes in your blood over time, after making changes to your diet or lifestyle, you know that what you’re doing is working. Some biohackers recommend getting blood tests every year, while others do it more frequently.
Blood testing is part of the biohacking guide because it serves as a proactive and preventative measure. When you notice a negative change, you shift your diet and lifestyle right away to make yourself healthier.
Is Biohacking Safe?
Biohacking can be really fun. Figuring out what your body prefers and how to get it feeling its best can even feel invigorating, particularly if you’ve been struggling with health concerns and are finally getting answers.
However, it’s important to remember that we’re more than just the number of calories we eat or burn, and it is possible to take biohacking too far.
A biohacking movement is growing in popularity, especially in Silicon Valley, where tech execs are tracking what they eat, ketone levels, body composition and more daily. They also fast for days at a time, increasing their risk of critical mineral deficiencies and infection — and likely creating an obsession and anxiety around the food ( orthorexia ) they’re eating.
While some medical professionals and scientists practice standard biohacking and even get involved in DIYBio studies and using biohacking implants, many scientists and doctors are skeptical of these practices.
The ones that fall more in line with ancient nutrition principles are sometimes scoffed at because of the mistaken idea that nutrition doesn’t have as much impact on your body as medicines or medical therapies might. Of course, we know that to be a false assumption.
However, many biohacking techniques that go “off the beaten path” are untested and can cost a lot of money to achieve, just two of the reasons why mainstream science and medicine may be skeptical of them.
While it’s exciting to see how people may be able to enhance or maximize their physical potential through natural means, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the concept of biohacking, particularly when it comes to pushing your body to unknown limits or using chemical and technological enhancements to do things your body may not have been designed to do.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to biohack yourself to be at your best, but the concern is related to the obsessive behavior around hardcore biohacking that’s practiced by biohacking grinders. It can really quickly lead to unhealthy territory or fuel an eating disorder.
Instead, it’s healthy and safe to take a holistic approach to biohacking your brain and body. Grab a journal and jot down how certain foods make you feel or whether you find yourself reaching for certain meals when you’re feeling down.
If you find that eating in a certain window of time makes you a superstar at work, stick to that schedule. Remember that there’s no one biohacking diet or biohacking product that works for everyone.
It’s a journey, not a science!
As mentioned, there are different levels of biohacking out there. If you plan to go beyond a holistic biohacking definition that involves listening to your mind and body to make positive and effective changes, you should do so with caution.
Any time you plan to take biohacking supplements or use biohacking technology, speak to your health care professional first.
- What is biohacking? Biohacking is all about making lifestyle changes to optimize the way your body functions.
- Whether it’s bulletproof biohacking, starting a biohacking diet or inserting biohacking magnets into your body — there are a number of biohacking definitions, with some much more extreme than others.
- The truth is that you don’t need fancy gadgets to biohack yourself. Instead, it’s about finding natural ways to improve how you feel.
- Biohacks include strategies like trying an elimination diet, standing up throughout the day more, experimenting with intermittent fasting and getting more sleep.
- Though a more extreme form of biohacking is gaining popularity in Silicon Valley, using natural biohacking supplements and botanical biohacking approaches is a safer and possibly more effective choice.
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What is biohacking and why should we care?
The big question about biohacking is, what is it? That’s a question my editors and my friends all asked me as I prepared a story for the PBS NewsHour on this new biology term. And when I answered them, they still didn’t quite get it. So I’ll try again, with some help from the folks I talked to in recent weeks.
Biohacking is a fairly new practice that could lead to major changes in our life. You could it call citizen or do-it-your-self biology. It takes place in small labs — mostly non-university — where all sorts of people get together to explore biology. That could mean figuring out how the DNA in plants affects their growth, or how to manipulate genes from another source to make a plant glow in the dark. It often is aimed at producing a product, like the chairs and building blocks that artist Philip Ross makes by feeding mushrooms a meal of sawdust or peanut shavings. It is experimenting on the cheap, usually without the benefit of a fancy university laboratory, and it often involves DNA and genes. If you don’t know enough biology to take part at first, you learn it along the way.
Ron Shigeta runs Berkeley Biolabs, a biohacking site in Berkeley, California, where dozens of would-be biologists gather frequently to hack around. He says biohacking is “a freedom to explore biology, kind of like you would explore good fiction.” As for the hacking part, “hacking is kind of like the freedom to sort of dig deep into something, just because you’re interested in it. … The whole idea of biohacking is that people feel entitled, they feel the ability to just follow their curiosity — where it should go — and really get to the bottom of something they want to understand.”
“The whole idea of biohacking is that people feel entitled, they feel the ability to just follow their curiosity — where it should go — and really get to the bottom of something they want to understand.”But hacking also has a negative connotation; when someone hacks your computer, you want to send him or her to jail. But that’s not exactly what biohacking is. Drew Endy, a professor of bioengineering at Stanford, who considers himself a biohacker, says “I come from a tradition where hacking is a positive term, and it means learning about stuff by building, and trying to make things and seeing what happens.”
And Eri Gentry, who founded the Silicon Valley biohacking venue BioCurious, explains further: “The word hacker comes from MIT where hacks would be cool little tricks that you would play on each other, so when you’re done with your homework, you’re staying up all night, and you’ve got to have something to do, so they might coat the ceiling or the roof of a building in tin foil. So this was a hack, and hackers came to be known in the 60s and 70s as the guys who were making the first computers.”
Yet another concept of hacking comes from a totally different source. Dave Asprey, a computer security guy, considers himself a biohacker. Basically he hacks into his own body. Here’s what he says: “There are two perspectives on biohacking. One is that biohacking is something you do to biology, outside of yourself; you’re going to change a cell; you’re going change an amoeba and make it glow in the dark. The other perspective on biohacking, the one where I spend my time, is that you can hack your own biology, and you can gain control of systems in your body that you would never have access to.”
Asprey — who has received attention online and at conferences — says he has used biohacking and new technical measurement tools and a low-toxic coffee he produces (Bulletproof) to alter his cognition, his weight and his general health. He takes supplements, applies electricity to his brain and his muscles, to improve his body and his mind.
He has not had his work evaluated by peers or duplicated by scientists, or published in scientific journals. But he maintains that he “is a professional biohacker, so I spend most of my time sharing what I’m doing with people and I write about it online.”
Whether Asprey belongs in the category of biohacker, is unclear. But Gentry of BioCurious would admit him to the club.
“I see a distinct difference between the biohacking that Dave does and the biohacking that we’re doing. … But if biohackers like Dave Asprey want to tinker with their own bodies, that’s where we draw the line in the lab. … Dave is interested in making himself an optimal human being, and much credit to him,” he said. “I think what he does is great.”
Which gets us back to the original question: What is biohacking? Since it’s a citizen-run pastime, you decide.
Spencer Michels, correspondent and producer in the San Francisco office of the NewsHour, began reporting stories for the broadcast in 1983, while still anchor and correspondent for KQED. A native of San Francisco, he graduated from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 1959 and then received his master's from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.
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What Is Biohacking? How to Get Started and the Science Behind It
Over the last decade, biohacking has expanded past the elusive and elite boundaries of Silicon Valley, where the concept first gained recognition and popularity—primarily from the founder of Bulletproof Coffee and self-proclaimed biohacker, Dave Asprey. Now, anyone can take this DIY approach to health thanks to emerging science on longevity, innovative technologies that make living longer possible, and novel gadgets that let you track and measure almost every aspect of your health.
What is biohacking?
Biohacking is the process of implementing scientifically-driven lifestyle interventions to optimize health throughout the lifespan. It’s a rather ambiguous term that can encompass both incremental and radical changes to diet, lifestyle, or supplementation—changes all taken with the goal of optimizing health.
Biohacking is a personalized process that involves self-experimentation and collecting data, and what works for some people may not work for you. The best biohacks are informed by science and data-driven feedback on what works best for your body. A level of caution should be warranted before implementing biohacks without supporting scientific evidence.
Hacking human health: How to get started as a biohacker?
Remember learning about the scientific method in middle school? This do-it-yourself biology takes a similar approach.
- Describe the problem you want to address: Using observations about your current health status and where you would like your health and wellness to go, identify a problem area you want a biohack to address. For example, a problem could be, “My cholesterol is high. I want to improve my cholesterol levels.”
- Create a hypothesis: Now it’s time to figure out what diet, lifestyle, exercise, or supplement interventions may be suitable to address your defined problem. This step requires some research on your end. After some digging, select an intervention and make a hypothesis on how it will impact your health. Going off the cholesterol example, an example of a hypothesis for that problem could be, “Based on research, I predict that if I practice intermittent fasting for four months, my cholesterol will go down.”
- Get a baseline measure: To know whether an intervention was successful, you need to know where you started. It’s important to get a baseline measure of the outcome you’re wanting to improve before taking steps to improve it. If you want to lower your cholesterol, you need to figure out what your baseline cholesterol is.
- Test the hypothesis: Now you’re ready to implement the intervention! If you’re testing out intermittent fasting, you now actually need to practice it in your daily routine.
- Evaluate and measure results: The only way to tell if the intervention is working is to measure it! Measure the outcome with the data you collected before beginning the intervention to see the true change.
- Refine the biohack: If the intervention or biohack you implemented worked, great! You can either refine it or keep going and try for greater improvements. Or, you can try out a completely different biohack.
Using technology's support to track and measure the health effects of your bio hack
Yes, you might be able to tell if a biohack is working by how you feel. And while the subjective feedback is valuable, objective measures using hard data are the only way to know for sure how your body is physiologically responding to the changes you implemented.
Wearables include everything from watches, rings, to patches. Watches like Apple Watch, Garmin smartwatches, and FitBit can track metrics like sleep and heart rate. The Oura Ring health wearable Whoop can track sleep and respiratory measures in even more detail. Some people even wear continuous glucose monitors (a patch worn on the arm) to track blood sugar, glucose levels throughout the day. All you have to do is tap your phone to the glucose monitor and you can see what your blood sugar levels are in seconds. However, a prescription is needed to get a continuous glucose monitor from a pharmacy.
Metrics that wearable trackers capture like sleep, heart rate, and blood sugar are all common targets of biohacks.
Glucose isn’t the only blood measure—or biomarker—that indicates health or wellness status. Numerous biomarkers can be hacked by lifestyle changes. To name a few...
Vitamin D: Optimal vitamin D levels are associated with improved bone health, inflammation, muscle mass and strength, and immune health.
Ferritin: This is a protein that stores iron and supports energy metabolism, helps produce immune cells, and low levels increase the risk of injury, lead to physical and mental fatigue, and correlate with a high exercise heart rate.
Cortisol: This is a hormone that responds to physical or mental stress. Chronically high cortisol levels are linked to fatigue, high blood sugar levels, and poor sleep.
Magnesium: A mineral that supports healthy blood pressure, blood glucose, muscle function, and sleep quality.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: This is commonly known as the “bad cholesterol” since it can build up in arteries and lead to blockages.
Blood tests tailored to biohackers
InsideTracker is an ultra-personalized system—designed for those aiming to fine-tune their health—that analyzes blood, lifestyle, DNA, and fitness tracker data. It measures up to 43 biomarkers and reveals your optimal ranges based on your age, sex, activity, and ethnicity for each one. Not only does the system analyze your data, it then provides you with nutrition, supplements, lifestyle, and exercise interventions that will directly impact your suboptimal biomarkers. So, if you're not sure what biohack to try, let InsideTracker can provide you with science-based recommendations based on what your body needs the most help with.
Does biohacking work?
It depends. Many biohacks are backed by science and have research supporting their efficacy. Other biohacks are not currently grounded in science or are still in the early stages of research (i.e being studied in a lab or in animals).
Biohacking can work when the intervention you choose to implement actually addresses the outcome you’re trying to reach. Because the goal of biohacking is optimal health, many biohacks spill over from discoveries made from aging and longevity research.
Here's where the science stands on six common biohacks
1. sleep .
The importance of sleep is not underscored by research. Quality sleep is linked to:
- Improved blood sugar (glucose) control 
- Reduced stress 
Whereas poor sleep is associated with:
- Increased levels of inflammation and inflammatory biomarkers 
- Impaired immunity 
- Increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and type II diabetes 
Because of its significant role in health and disease prevention, sleep has become a key target for biohackers. And now, you don’t have to guess how well you’re sleeping. Wearable devices like Whoop, Oura Ring, FitBit, Apple Watch, and Garmin smartwatches can easily track sleep data like sleep duration and time spent in REM sleep. Garmin smartwatches and Fitbit can even sync with InsideTracker, and InsideTracker can provide you with daily feedback on how to optimize them.
2. Intermittent fasting
Intermittent fasting is by no means a new biohack. The early adopter stage of intermittent fasting cited the benefits of intermittent fasting from animal studies. However, human research on intermittent fasting has exploded in the last decade.
Human studies show that intermittent fasting may improve: [6-8]
- Insulin sensitivity
- Blood pressure
- Markers of oxidative stress and inflammation
- Cholesterol levels
And there are multiple ways intermittent fasting has been studied and can be practiced. So, no matter what your lifestyle or preferences are, there are a variety of ways to implement this biohack in your life.
Time-restricted feeding: This method limits eating to a specific window followed by a long overnight fast. This is often referred to as a 16:8 diet, with 16 hours of fasting and a designated eight-hour eating window.
Circadian rhythm fasting: This is a more specific way of time-restricted feeding that requires a minimum of a 12 hour overnight fast and an earlier eating window during the day to align with the body’s natural circadian rhythms .
Alternate-day fasting: This method requires fasting or restricts caloric intake to less than 20% of your typical daily intake every other day.
5:2 fast: This method designates two days a week as fasting days, while food is consumed regularly—without restriction the other five days.
3. Vegan diet
Following a vegan diet means eliminating all animal-derived products from your diet: including meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, eggs, and even honey. People who eat a vegan diet have considerably lower LDL cholesterol levels (the bad cholesterol) and have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than omnivores (people who eat both plants and animals). [9-12]
Vegans also have significantly lower blood glucose levels in addition to hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c), or a measure of your blood sugar average over the last 90-120 days. [9,13]
However, following a vegan diet may also negatively impact sex hormone levels like testosterone and sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) in both males and females. And since animal products are a great source of quality iron, vegans tend to have lower levels of hemoglobin (a protein in your red blood cells that transports oxygen) and hematocrit (a percentage of red blood cells in the bloodstream), and ferritin (the storage form of iron). 
Vegan diets can help you hack your health, but it can also be more challenging to optimize certain measures like iron status. Of course, many other factors go into following a vegan diet or not (environmental, cultural, etc.) and you don’t have to compromise on the food choices that align with your values. It’s important to understand how your body responds to a diet to determine if your eating habits are fully working for you or if adjustments have to be made.
4. Sauna bathing
Sauna bathing has been used for centuries as a relaxation technique, and now, research suggests that saunas are beneficial for heart health, reducing inflammation, and lowering cholesterol. [15-17)
For the best results of this biohack, opt to get a temperature range of 175-195F (80-90C) with 10-20% humidity for a total of 30-minutes and complete three sessions a week. To see if sauna bathing is working for you, you’re going to want to measure blood markers of heart health—like cholesterol—and markers of inflammation—like hsCRP.
5. NMN or NR supplements
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide or NAD+ is a molecule in the body involved in everything from cellular energy production, DNA repair, and aging. And NAD+ seems to naturally decline with age. One way people are trying to biohack this age-related loss is through supplementation with precursors, or intermediaries, like nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) or nicotinamide riboside (NR). 
Several preclinical (lab and animal) studies show encouraging results that NMN and NR supplements boost NAD+ levels. Clinical trials of these supplements in people just started in 2016. The current human research indicates that these supplements may be beneficial in increasing levels of NAD+, but there’s currently not enough evidence to conclude that they are generally safe for people to take or what the effects of increased NAD+ levels are. [10-21]
*As of November 2022, the Food and Drug Administration ruled that NMN cannot be sold as a dietary supplement in the United States. One citation suppliers of the supplement have received from the FDA state the reason for this change is because of its prior investigation of a drug. However, it's unclear whether or not NMN products will be available for commercial purchase.
6. Brain games
There’s research that indicates that playing brain games can help improve cognitive abilities as you age, and there’s a correlation between declining cognition and increased risk of death.  Combatting the effects of aging is a common goal for biohackers. Luckily, playing brain games that challenge memory and cognitive awareness may decrease age-related cognitive decline and actually improve cognitive processing. 
One last note before you begin biohacking
Before just jumping into the latest biohack, make sure you pick an evidence-based approach for the outcome you are wanting to address. And the only way to know whether or not that biohack worked is through gathering pre-and post-biohack metrics through wearable devices or blood tests.
Molly Knudsen, MS, RDN
8 Ways to Biohack Your Health
By michelle darian, ms, mph, rd , april 21, 2021, by shalane flanagan , april 9, 2021, by tianna bartoletta , april 5, 2021.
Longevity by Design
November 3, 2023
October 27, 2023
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What is biohacking? (And is it the secret to a healthier lifestyle?)
Biohacking can be more than just a buzzword.
Biohacking describes many new ways people have found to enhance their body’s ability to perform and function. Some even believe these methods can extend their lives.
What is biohacking?
What are the three main areas of biohacking, can biohacking optimize your health, biohacking with your diet, biohacking with exercise, biohacking with sleep.
More traditional biohacking forms may not seem so new, such as intermittent fasting or yoga. These popular and time-tested modalities enjoy legitimacy thanks to encouraging research and data associated with their use. Other fairly new trends require some thought and perhaps a doctor’s input before committing to them.
Let’s learn more about biohacking and how its principles might elevate your health.
Biohacking encompasses a series of changes made to improve health and general wellness. Such changes typically involve diet, bodies, and habits to bring about desired improved results . Many people hack their way to improvement. Consider brilliant traveling hacks ahead of a vacation. Or happiness hacks — science-backed ways to increase sustained happiness.
- Is walking at a treadmill desk really that helpful? We investigate
- What your anti-inflammatory diet is missing, according to registered dietitians
- Ultra-processed foods are seriously unhealthy (and these are the items hiding in your pantry you didn’t realize you should avoid)
Biohacks work in similar ways.
Small, gradual changes to your diet and lifestyle can make the most of your health, physical capabilities, and mental performance. Many people believe a longer, healthier life is a more meaningful one. That’s the main reason biohackers use their own bodies to experiment with techniques and analyze data to figure out what works best for them.
Biohackers may wear certain devices or regularly test their blood to track vital health metrics in order to better understand their own fitness , risk for disease, and chances for longevity.
Do-it-yourself biology is a fairly new biotechnological social movement. Typically, those with limited scientific backgrounds or research training collaborate with other self-taught individuals to study biology and life science. They do this as a hobby, in the name of community learning, or to begin their own business.
In its original context, calling someone a ‘hacker’ suggests the sense of finding new and inventive ways to do things. DIY biologists use terms like biohacking and wetware hacking to emphasize the connection between their movement and overall hacker culture.
Grinders and biohackers have similar roles within this bourgeoning community. Grinders especially use hacker ethics to improve their own bodies with do-it-yourself devices and/or biochemicals. They do this to improve and enhance the way their bodies function.
In some circles, this is also known as the biopunk movement, techno-progressivism, or open-source transhumanism.
Some grinder or body modification movements involve the risky act of implanting cybernetic devices in the body. The ultimate goal is to move ever closer toward creating humans who are part machines. This includes using magnetic implants, cybernetic recording devices to collect biometric data and other body modifications.
By hacking themselves, grinders modify their bodies in sometimes extreme ways to improve the human condition for everyone. They hope their combination of human and electronic techniques will extend and improve human capacities.
Nutritional genomics, or nutrigenomics as it is commonly known, defines the relationship between nutrients, genes, and diet. When the Human Genome Project launched in the 1990s, scientists began mapping human DNA sequencing, and the field of nutrigenomics quickly formed thereafter.
In the beginning, nutrigenomics generated a lot of excitement. Progress has slowed since then, but incredible possibilities remain. People especially have a lot of hope about how personalized nutrition might lead to better health outcomes across the board.
Using personal data, which brings up several ethical and regulatory challenges, gives people information about how to make nutrition and diet choices that work for them. Some ethicists wonder whether it is appropriate to screen for specific genetic phenotypic predispositions. This is especially worrisome when we have no treatments for such predispositions.
Everyone from scientists, doctors, and government regulators to licensed nutritionists and dietitians is continuing to keep their eye on developments coming from this modality.
At best, biohacking is a way to empower individuals with ways to take charge of their own health and well-being. With that empowerment comes responsibility. You must thoroughly research and completely evaluate the safety of different biohacks.
Too much of anything is a bad idea, so moderation is key. Biohacking allows you to prioritize and enhance your health . Just make sure you’re not relying on untested external products or technology for things you can do quite naturally and better on your own.
Controlling how, when, and what you eat is one of the most understandable and common biohacks. Most of us do this every day, even if we don’t call it biohacking. If you want to lose weight, change your metabolism, or improve digestion, consider biohacking your diet .
Customizing your diet to optimize cellular nutrition is just a fancy way of saying that you consume a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. Popular movements like keto diets or intermittent fasting do this to build a foundation for healthier cells and affect cellular energy production.
This can also help you maintain a healthier weight by reducing the risk of chronic disease, metabolic imbalance, and insulin resistance. Many hackers also report better physical performance and fitness levels.
Other diet biohacking examples include the following:
- Blood sugar control supplements
- Glucose monitors
- Ketone breath analyzers
- Metabolism monitoring devices
- Limiting foods that cause gut inflammation
Biohacking workout routines and combining certain nutrition and lifestyle practices can lead to faster weight loss, muscle gain, and recovery times. Depending on your goals and medical history, you can implement a host of hacks before, during, and after exercise to see better results quickly.
For example, when you’re exercising, your liver and muscles deplete stores of glycogen. The more intense your workouts, the more glycogen you lose. Since this is your body’s main source of energy, you want enough stored glycogen to properly exercise. You don’t want to exhaust yourself too quickly.
Biohacking by eating healthy carbohydrates before a workout leads to more effective muscle development, quicker weight loss, etc.
Caffeine is another example of biohacking your exercise. Consuming caffeine means you can increase your performance in endurance activities, cardio workouts, and strength training. For this reason, biohackers increase coffee consumption, minus cream and sugar, before such workouts.
Interested in ensuring a better night’s sleep ? Some popular hacks include the following:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Limiting caffeine and alcohol
- Exercising regularly
- Stopping smoking
- Dimming lights in the evening
- Using blackout blinds at night
- Putting your phone away an hour before bed
- Letting in the morning sunlight
- Getting outside every day
- Taking vitamin D supplements if sunlight is limited
- Using natural lightbulbs at work
- Avoiding food or alcohol at least two to three hours before bedtime
Regular exercise not only improves the quality and amount of sleep you get, but it also leads to deeper and more restorative sleep stages. This allows you to feel better throughout the day.
Other hacks to improve sleep include avoiding cheesy, spicy, or acidic foods. They cause stomach upset, including heartburn, that makes it difficult to sleep at night.
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Exercise is an integral part of wellness, positively affecting physical, mental, and emotional health and balance. Yet sometimes, we notice that traditional exercises, like bike riding, climbing stairs, or jumping rope, may not be the most effective choices. Occasionally, we just need to try something new, and the answer to our problems could be tai chi. It may sound unfamiliar or even unachievable, but have no fear! All it takes is an open mind to learn about something new and give a tai chi workout a try.
We know you may be skeptical, but we'll give you a nice and easy introduction to the benefits of tai chi. This can be a helpful guide for creative new ways to fit stretching and exercise into your everyday activities, no matter how hectic your schedule. This could be as simple as stretching in your office while taking a 10-minute break or setting aside an hour of solitude for a more extensive workout. We're here to help if you're unsure where to start. It may seem challenging to try something new, but really, it’s as easy as breathing and stretching.
Many people seek to get stronger and more able through their strength training workouts, but they may wonder how to build muscle to improve their physique and bulk up. A great method for adding on mass is through hypertrophy training, which is a form of training achieved by using heavier weights during high-volume training. Although a lot of people assume that you can only build muscle by lifting dumbbells, barbells, or other traditional weighted implements, it's possible to do so with resistance bands as well. Resistance bands provide a low-cost, portable, and convenient way to do at-home strength training workouts for those who can’t afford a gym membership or prefer the convenience, efficiency, and privacy of working out at home. To learn more about how to build muscle using resistance bands instead of weights, we spoke to Seamus Sullivan, a certified strength and conditioning coach and a certified Precision Nutrition professional who has been training clients for over seven years. Keep reading to learn expert tips on how to build muscle using resistance bands and increase your gains even if you don’t have access to weights.
How does muscle growth occur? Ultimately, muscle building is the process of hypertrophy. Hypertrophy occurs in a two-step process in which you first break down muscle fibers through high-intensity training (typically resistance training workouts). Then, as long as your body has a sufficient supply of amino acids from dietary protein and adequate caloric intake to support muscle repair, the process of muscle protein synthesis will help prepare and rebuild your muscle fibers to be stronger and larger. "The usual factors for hypertrophy are mechanical tension, muscle damage, and metabolic stress," Sullivan said. "Mechanical tension is when a load is placed upon a muscle while the muscle goes through a full range of motion. This leads to muscle damage that, with rest, will now allow the muscles to grow. Lastly, metabolic stress creates signals which have similar effects to mechanical tension to initiate hypertrophy." Sullivan also noted that to promote hypertrophy, resistance training exercises need to be performed in sets close to failure.
As you make progress on your fitness journey, keep your mind open to various forms of exercise and wellness regimens. You’ve likely seen great benefits from cardio workouts and strength training, but you’ll want to keep up with another great form of exercise that will be vital to your health. Yoga is a great tool to have in your arsenal, as it’s effective for strength and flexibility as well as balance between your body and mind.
It's important to take a deeper look into the variations of yoga because the different components of yoga can provide unique benefits. Various yoga poses can enhance your mobility and flexibility, as well as your range of motion. This will be advantageous for your strength and will help ease any muscle pain or stiffness.
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9 questions about biohacking you were too embarrassed to ask.
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Even if you haven’t heard the term “biohacking” before, you’ve probably encountered some version of it. Maybe you’ve seen Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey extolling the benefits of fasting intermittently and drinking “salt juice” each morning . Maybe you’ve read about former NASA employee Josiah Zayner injecting himself with DNA using the gene-editing technology CRISPR . Maybe you’ve heard of Bay Area folks engaging in “dopamine fasting.”
Maybe you, like me, have a colleague who’s had a chip implanted in their hand .
These are all types of biohacking, a broad term for a lifestyle that’s growing increasingly popular, and not just in Silicon Valley , where it really took off.
Biohacking — also known as DIY biology — is an extremely broad and amorphous term that can cover a huge range of activities, from performing science experiments on yeast or other organisms to tracking your own sleep and diet to changing your own biology by pumping a younger person’s blood into your veins in the hope that it’ll fight aging. (Yes, that is a real thing, and it’s called a young blood transfusion. More on that later.)
The type of biohackers currently gaining the most notoriety are the ones who experiment — outside of traditional lab spaces and institutions — on their own bodies with the hope of boosting their physical and cognitive performance. They form one branch of transhumanism , a movement that holds that human beings can and should use technology to augment and evolve our species.
Some biohackers have science PhDs; others are complete amateurs. And their ways of trying to “hack” biology are as diverse as they are. It can be tricky to understand the different types of hacks, what differentiates them from traditional medicine, and how safe — or legal — they are.
As biohacking starts to appear more often in headlines — and, recently, in a fascinating Netflix series called Unnatural Selection — it’s worth getting clear on some of the fundamentals. Here are nine questions that can help you make sense of biohacking.
1) First of all, what exactly is biohacking? What are some common examples of it?
Depending on whom you ask, you’ll get a different definition of biohacking. Since it can encompass a dizzying range of pursuits, I’m mostly going to look at biohacking defined as the attempt to manipulate your brain and body in order to optimize performance, outside the realm of traditional medicine. But later on, I’ll also give an overview of some other types of biohacking (including some that can lead to pretty unbelievable art).
Dave Asprey, a biohacker who created the supplement company Bulletproof, told me that for him, biohacking is “the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so that you have full control over your own biology.” He’s very game to experiment on his body: He has stem cells injected into his joints, takes dozens of supplements daily, bathes in infrared light, and much more . It’s all part of his quest to live until at least age 180.
One word Asprey likes to use a lot is “control,” and that kind of language is typical of many biohackers, who often talk about “optimizing” and “upgrading” their minds and bodies.
Some of their techniques for achieving that are things people have been doing for centuries, like Vipassana meditation and intermittent fasting. Both of those are part of Dorsey’s routine, which he detailed in a podcast interview . He tries to do two hours of meditation a day and eats only one meal (dinner) on weekdays; on weekends, he doesn’t eat at all. (Critics worry that his dietary habits sound a bit like an eating disorder, or that they might unintentionally influence others to develop a disorder.) He also kicks off each morning with an ice bath before walking the 5 miles to Twitter HQ.
Supplements are another popular tool in the biohacker’s arsenal. There’s a whole host of pills people take, from anti-aging supplements to nootropics or “smart drugs.”
Since biohackers are often interested in quantifying every aspect of themselves, they may buy wearable devices to, say, track their sleep patterns. (For that purpose, Dorsey swears by the Oura Ring .) The more data you have on your body’s mechanical functions, the more you can optimize the machine that is you — or so the thinking goes.
Then there are some of the more radical practices: cryotherapy (purposely making yourself cold), neurofeedback (training yourself to regulate your brain waves), near-infrared saunas (they supposedly help you escape stress from electromagnetic transmissions), and virtual float tanks (which are meant to induce a meditative state through sensory deprivation), among others. Some people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on these treatments.
A subset of biohackers called grinders go so far as to implant devices like computer chips in their bodies. The implants allow them to do everything from opening doors without a fob to monitoring their glucose levels subcutaneously.
For some grinders, like Zoltan Istvan , who ran for president as head of the Transhumanist Party, having an implant is fun and convenient: “I’ve grown to relish and rely on the technology,” he recently wrote in the New York Times . “The electric lock on the front door of my house has a chip scanner, and it’s nice to go surfing and jogging without having to carry keys around.”
Istvan also noted that “for some people without functioning arms, chips in their feet are the simplest way to open doors or operate some household items modified with chip readers.” Other grinders are deeply curious about blurring the line between human and machine, and they get a thrill out of seeing all the ways we can augment our flesh-and-blood bodies using tech. Implants, for them, are a starter experiment.
2) Why are people doing this? What drives someone to biohack themselves?
On a really basic level, biohacking comes down to something we can all relate to: the desire to feel better — and to see just how far we can push the human body. That desire comes in a range of flavors, though. Some people just want to not be sick anymore. Others want to become as smart and strong as they possibly can. An even more ambitious crowd wants to be as smart and strong as possible for as long as possible — in other words, they want to radically extend their life span.
These goals have a way of escalating. Once you’ve determined (or think you’ve determined) that there are concrete “hacks” you can use by yourself right now to go from sick to healthy, or healthy to enhanced, you start to think: Well, why stop there? Why not shoot for peak performance? Why not try to live forever? What starts as a simple wish to be free from pain can snowball into self-improvement on steroids.
That was the case for Asprey. Now in his 40s, he got into biohacking because he was unwell. Before hitting age 30, he was diagnosed with high risk of stroke and heart attack, suffered from cognitive dysfunction, and weighed 300 pounds. “I just wanted to control my own biology because I was tired of being in pain and having mood swings,” he told me.
Now that he feels healthier, he wants to slow the normal aging process and optimize every part of his biology. “I don’t want to be just healthy; that’s average. I want to perform; that’s daring to be above average. Instead of ‘How do I achieve health?’ it’s ‘How do I kick more ass?’”
Zayner, the biohacker who once injected himself with CRISPR DNA, has also had health problems for years, and some of his biohacking pursuits have been explicit attempts to cure himself . But he’s also motivated in large part by frustration . Like some other biohackers with an anti-establishment streak, he’s irritated by federal officials’ purported sluggishness in greenlighting all sorts of medical treatments. In the US, it can take 10 years for a new drug to be developed and approved; for people with serious health conditions, that wait time can feel cruelly long . Zayner claims that’s part of why he wants to democratize science and empower people to experiment on themselves.
(However, he admits that some of his stunts have been purposely provocative and that “I do ridiculous stuff also. I’m sure my motives are not 100 percent pure all the time.”)
The biohacking community also offers just that: community. It gives people a chance to explore unconventional ideas in a non-hierarchical setting, and to refashion the feeling of being outside the norm into a cool identity. Biohackers congregate in dedicated online networks, in Slack and WhatsApp groups — WeFast , for example, is for intermittent fasters. In person, they run experiments and take classes at “hacklabs,” improvised laboratories that are open to the public, and attend any one of the dozens of biohacking conferences put on each year.
3) How different is biohacking from traditional medicine? What makes something “count” as a biohacking pursuit?
Certain kinds of biohacking go far beyond traditional medicine, while other kinds bleed into it.
Plenty of age-old techniques — meditation, fasting — can be considered a basic type of biohacking. So can going to a spin class or taking antidepressants.
What differentiates biohacking is arguably not that it’s a different genre of activity but that the activities are undertaken with a particular mindset. The underlying philosophy is that we don’t need to accept our bodies’ shortcomings — we can engineer our way past them using a range of high- and low-tech solutions. And we don’t necessarily need to wait for a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, traditional medicine’s gold standard. We can start to transform our lives right now.
As millionaire Serge Faguet, who plans to live forever, put it : “People here [in Silicon Valley] have a technical mindset, so they think of everything as an engineering problem. A lot of people who are not of a technical mindset assume that, ‘Hey, people have always been dying,’ but I think there’s going to be a greater level of awareness [of biohacking] once results start to happen.”
Rob Carlson, an expert on synthetic biology who’s been advocating for biohacking since the early 2000s, told me that to his mind, “all of modern medicine is hacking,” but that people often call certain folks “hackers” as a way of delegitimizing them. “It’s a way of categorizing the other — like, ‘Those biohackers over there do that weird thing.’ This is actually a bigger societal question: Who’s qualified to do anything? And why do you not permit some people to explore new things and talk about that in public spheres?”
If it’s taken to extremes, the “Who’s qualified to do anything?” mindset can delegitimize scientific expertise in a way that can endanger public health. Luckily, biohackers don’t generally seem interested in dethroning expertise to that dangerous degree; many just don’t think they should be locked out of scientific discovery because they lack conventional credentials like a PhD.
4) So how much of this is backed by scientific research?
Some biohacks are backed by strong scientific evidence and are likely to be beneficial. Often, these are the ones that are tried and true, debugged over centuries of experimentation. For example, clinical trials have shown that mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety and chronic pain.
But other hacks, based on weak or incomplete evidence, could be either ineffective or actually harmful.
After Dorsey endorsed a particular near-infrared sauna sold by SaunaSpace, which claims its product boosts cellular regeneration and fights aging by detoxing your body, the company experienced a surge in demand. But according to the New York Times , “though a study of middle-aged and older Finnish men indicates that their health benefited from saunas, there have been no major studies conducted of” this type of sauna, which directs incandescent light at your body. So is buying this expensive product likely to improve your health? We can’t say that yet.
Similarly, the intermittent fasting that Dorsey endorses may yield health benefits for some, but scientists still have plenty of questions about it. Although there’s a lot of research on the long-term health outcomes of fasting in animals — and much of it is promising — the research literature on humans is much thinner. Fasting has gone mainstream, but because it’s done so ahead of the science , it falls into the “proceed with caution” category. Critics have noted that for those who’ve struggled with eating disorders, it could be dangerous.
And while we’re on the topic of biohacking nutrition: My colleague Julia Belluz has previously reported on the Bulletproof Diet promoted by Asprey, who she says “vilifies healthy foods and suggests part of the way to achieve a ‘pound a day’ weight loss is to buy his expensive, ‘science-based’ Bulletproof products.” She was not convinced by the citations for his claims:
What I found was a patchwork of cherry-picked research and bad studies or articles that aren’t relevant to humans. He selectively reported on studies that backed up his arguments, and ignored the science that contradicted them. Many of the studies weren’t done in humans but in rats and mice . Early studies on animals, especially on something as complex as nutrition, should never be extrapolated to humans. Asprey glorifies coconut oil and demonizes olive oil, ignoring the wealth of randomized trials (the highest quality of evidence) that have demonstrated olive oil is beneficial for health. Some of the research he cites was done on very specific sub-populations, such as diabetics , or on very small groups of people. These findings wouldn’t be generalizable to the rest of us.
5) This all sounds like it can be taken to extremes. What are the most dangerous types of biohacking being tried?
Some of the highest-risk hacks are being undertaken by people who feel desperate. On some level, that’s very understandable. If you’re sick and in constant pain, or if you’re old and scared to die, and traditional medicine has nothing that works to quell your suffering, who can fault you for seeking a solution elsewhere?
Yet some of the solutions being tried these days are so dangerous, they’re just not worth the risk.
If you’ve watched HBO’s Silicon Valley , then you’re already familiar with young blood transfusions. As a refresher, that’s when an older person pays for a young person’s blood and has it pumped into their veins in the hope that it’ll fight aging.
This putative treatment sounds vampiric, yet it’s gained popularity in the Silicon Valley area, where people have actually paid $8,000 a pop to participate in trials. The billionaire tech investor Peter Thiel has expressed keen interest.
As Chavie Lieber noted for Vox, although some limited studies suggest that these transfusions might fend off diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis, these claims haven’t been proven.
In February, the Food and Drug Administration released a statement warning consumers away from the transfusions: “Simply put, we’re concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors touting treatments of plasma from young donors as cures and remedies. Such treatments have no proven clinical benefits for the uses for which these clinics are advertising them and are potentially harmful.”
Another biohack that definitely falls in the “don’t try this at home” category: fecal transplants, or transferring stool from a healthy donor into the gastrointestinal tract of an unhealthy recipient. In 2016, sick of suffering from severe stomach pain, Zayner decided to give himself a fecal transplant in a hotel room. He had procured a friend’s poop and planned to inoculate himself using the microbes in it. Ever the public stuntman, he invited a journalist to document the procedure. Afterward, he claimed the experiment left him feeling better.
But fecal transplants are still experimental and not approved by the FDA. The FDA recently reported that two people had contracted serious infections from fecal transplants that contained drug-resistant bacteria. One of the people died. And this was in the context of a clinical trial — presumably, a DIY attempt could be even riskier. The FDA is putting a stop to clinical trials on the transplants for now.
Zayner also popularized the notion that you can edit your own DNA with CRISPR. In 2017, he injected himself with CRISPR DNA at a biotech conference, live-streaming the experiment. He later said he regretted that stunt because it could lead others to copy him and “people are going to get hurt.” Yet when asked whether his company, the Odin, which he runs out of his garage in Oakland, California, was going to stop selling CRISPR kits to the general public, he said no.
Ellen Jorgensen, a molecular biologist who co-founded Genspace and Biotech Without Borders , two Brooklyn-based biology labs open to the public, finds antics like Zayner’s worrisome. A self-identified biohacker, she told me people shouldn’t buy Zayner’s kits, not just because they don’t work half the time (she’s a professional and even she couldn’t get it to work), but because CRISPR is such a new technology that scientists aren’t yet sure of all the risks involved in using it. By tinkering with your genome, you could unintentionally cause a mutation that increases your risk of developing cancer, she said. It’s a dangerous practice that should not be marketed as a DIY activity.
“At Genspace and Biotech Without Borders, we always get the most heartbreaking emails from parents of children afflicted with genetic diseases,” Jorgensen says. “They have watched these Josiah Zayner videos and they want to come into our class and cure their kids. We have to tell them, ‘This is a fantasy.’ ... That is incredibly painful.”
She thinks such biohacking stunts give biohackers like her a bad name. “It’s bad for the DIY bio community,” she said, “because it makes people feel that as a general rule we’re irresponsible.”
6) Are all these biohacking pursuits legal?
Existing regulations weren’t built to make sense of something like biohacking, which in some cases stretches the very limits of what it means to be a human being. That means that a lot of biohacking pursuits exist in a legal gray zone: frowned upon by bodies like the FDA, but not yet outright illegal, or not enforced as such. As biohackers traverse uncharted territory, regulators are scrambling to catch up with them.
After the FDA released its statement in February urging people to stay away from young blood transfusions, the San Francisco-based startup Ambrosia , which was well known for offering the transfusions, said on its website that it had “ceased patient treatments.” The site now says, “We are currently in discussion with the FDA on the topic of young plasma.”
This wasn’t the FDA’s first foray into biohacking. In 2016, the agency objected to Zayner selling kits to brew glow-in-the-dark beer . And after he injected himself with CRISPR, the FDA released a notice saying the sale of DIY gene-editing kits for use on humans is illegal. Zayner disregarded the warning and continued to sell his wares.
In 2019, he was, for a time, under investigation by California’s Department of Consumer Affairs, accused of practicing medicine without a license.
The biohackers I spoke to said restrictive regulation would be a counterproductive response to biohacking because it’ll just drive the practice underground. They say it’s better to encourage a culture of transparency so that people can ask questions about how to do something safely, without fear of reprisal.
According to Jorgensen, most biohackers are safety-conscious, not the sorts of people interested in engineering a pandemic. They’ve even generated and adopted their own codes of ethics . She herself has had a working relationship with law enforcement since the early 2000s.
“At the beginning of the DIY bio movement, we did an awful lot of work with Homeland Security,” she said. “And as far back as 2009, the FBI was reaching out to the DIY community to try to build bridges.”
Carlson told me he’s noticed two general shifts over the past 20 years. “One was after 2001, after the anthrax attacks, when Washington, DC, lost their damn minds and just went into a reactive mode and tried to shut everything down,” he said. “As of 2004 or 2005, the FBI was arresting people for doing biology in their homes.”
Then in 2009, the National Security Council dramatically changed perspectives. It published the National Strategy for Countering Biological Threats , which embraced “innovation and open access to the insights and materials needed to advance individual initiatives,” including in “private laboratories in basements and garages.”
Now, though, some agencies seem to think they ought to take action. But even if there were clear regulations governing all biohacking activities, there would be no straightforward way to stop people from pursuing them behind closed doors. “This technology is available and implementable anywhere, there’s no physical means to control access to it, so what would regulating that mean?” Carlson said.
7) One of the more ambitious types of biohacking is life extension, the attempt to live longer or even cheat death entirely. What are the physical limits of life extension?
Some biohackers believe that by leveraging technology, they’ll be able to live longer but stay younger . Gerontologist Aubrey de Grey claims people will be able to live to age 1,000 . In fact, he says the first person who will live to 1,000 has already been born.
De Grey focuses on developing strategies for repairing seven types of cellular and molecular damage associated with aging — or, as he calls them, “Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence.” His nonprofit, the Methuselah Foundation, has attracted huge investments, including more than $6 million from Thiel . Its aim is to “make 90 the new 50 by 2030.”
Wondering whether de Grey’s goals are realistic, I reached out to Genspace co-founder Oliver Medvedik, who earned his PhD at Harvard Medical School and now directs the Kanbar Center for Biomedical Engineering at Cooper Union. “Living to 1,000? It’s definitely within our realm of possibility if we as a society that doles out money [to fund research we deem worthy] decide we want to do it,” he told me.
He’s optimistic, he said, because the scientific community is finally converging on a consensus about what the root causes of aging are ( damage to mitochondria and epigenetic changes are a couple of examples). And in the past five years, he’s seen an explosion of promising papers on possible ways to address those causes.
Researchers who want to fight aging generally adopt two different approaches . The first is the “small molecule” approach, which often focuses on dietary supplements. Medvedik calls that the “low-hanging fruit.” He spoke excitedly about the possibility of creating a supplement from a plant compound called fisetin, noting that a recent (small) Mayo Clinic trial suggests high concentrations of fisetin can clear out senescent cells in humans — cells that have stopped dividing and that contribute to aging.
The other approach is more dramatic: genetic engineering. Scientists taking this tack in mouse studies usually tinker with a genome in embryo, meaning that new mice are born with the fix already in place. Medvedik pointed out that’s not very useful for treating humans — we want to be able to treat people who have already been born and have begun to age.
But he sees promise here too. He cited a new study that used CRISPR to target Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a genetic disorder that manifests as accelerated aging, in a mouse model. “It wasn’t a total cure — they extended the life span of these mice by maybe 30 percent — but what I was very interested in is the fact that it was delivered into mice that had already been born.”
He’s also intrigued by potential non-pharmaceutical treatments for aging-related diseases like Alzheimer’s — for example, the use of light stimulation to influence brain waves — but those probably won’t help us out anytime soon, for a simple reason: “It’s not a drug. You can’t package and sell it,” he said. “Pharma can’t monetize it.”
Like many in the biohacking community, Medvedik sounded a note of frustration about how the medical system holds back anti-aging progress. “If you were to come up with a compound right now that literally cures aging, you couldn’t get it approved,” he said. “By the definition we’ve set up, aging isn’t a disease, and if you want to get it approved by the FDA you have to target a certain disease. That just seems very strange and antiquated and broken.”
8) Biohackers also include people who engage in DIY science without experimenting on themselves. What’s that form of biohacking like?
Not everyone who’s interested in biohacking is interested in self-experimentation. Some come to it because they care about bringing science to the masses, alleviating the climate crisis, or making art that shakes us out of our comfort zones.
“My version of biohacking is unexpected people in unexpected places doing biotechnology,” Jorgensen told me. For her, the emphasis is on democratizing cutting-edge science while keeping it safe. The community labs she’s helped to build, Genspace and Biotech Without Borders, offer classes on using CRISPR technology to edit a genome — but participants work on the genome of yeast, never on their own bodies.
Some people in the community are altruistically motivated. They want to use biohacking to save the environment by figuring out a way to make a recyclable plastic or a biofuel. They might experiment on organisms in makeshift labs in their garages. Or they might take a Genspace class on how to make furniture out of fungi or paper out of kombucha.
Experimental artists have also taken an interest in biohacking. For them, biology is just another palette. The artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr from the University of Western Australia were actually the first people to create and serve up lab-grown meat. They took some starter cells from a frog and used them to grow small “steaks” of frog meat, which they fed to gallery-goers in France at a 2003 art installation called “Disembodied Cuisine.”
More recently, Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg has used old floral DNA to recreate the smell of flowers driven to extinction by humans , enabling us to catch a whiff of them once more.
And this summer, a London museum is displaying something rather less fragrant: cheese made from celebrities . Yes, you read that right: The cheese was created with bacteria harvested from the armpits, toes, bellybuttons, and nostrils of famous people. If you’re thoroughly grossed out by this, don’t worry: The food won’t actually be eaten — this “bioart” project is meant more as a thought experiment than as dinner.
9) At its most extreme, biohacking can fundamentally alter human nature. Should we be worried?
When you hear about people genetically engineering themselves or trying young blood transfusions in an effort to ward off death, it’s easy to feel a sense of vertigo about what we’re coming to as a species.
But the fact is we’ve been altering human nature since the very beginning. Inventing agriculture, for example, helped us transform ourselves from nomadic hunter-gatherers into sedentary civilizations. And whether we think of it this way or not, we’re all already doing some kind of biohacking every day.
The deeper I delve into biohacking, the more I think a lot of the discomfort with it boils down to simple neophobia — a fear of what’s new. (Not all of the discomfort, mind you: The more extreme hacks really are dangerous.)
As one of my colleagues put it to me, 40 years ago, “test tube babies” seemed unnatural, a freak-show curiosity; now in vitro fertilization has achieved mainstream acceptance. Will biohacking undergo the same progression? Or is it really altering human nature in a more fundamental way, a way that should concern us?
When I asked Carlson, he refused to buy the premise of the question.
“If you assert that hackers are changing what it means to be human, then we need to first have an agreement about what it means to be human,” he said. “And I’m not going to buy into the idea that there is one thing that is being human. Across the sweep of history, it’s odd to say humans are static — it’s not the case that humans in 1500 were the same as they are today.”
That’s true. Nowadays, we live longer. We’re taller. We’re more mobile. And we marry and have kids with people who come from different continents, different cultures — a profound departure from old customs that has nothing to do with genetic engineering but that’s nonetheless resulting in genetic change.
Still, biohackers are talking about making such significant changes that the risks they carry are significant too. What if biohackers’ “upgrades” don’t get distributed evenly across the human population? What if, for example, the cure for aging becomes available, but only to the rich? Will that lead to an even wider life expectancy gap, where rich people live longer and poor people die younger?
Medvedik dismissed that concern, arguing that a lot of interventions that could lengthen our lives, like supplements, wouldn’t be expensive to produce. “There’s no reason why that stuff can’t be dirt-cheap. But that depends on what we do as a society,” he said. Insulin doesn’t cost much to produce, but as a society we’ve allowed companies to jack up the price so high that many people with diabetes are now skipping lifesaving doses . That’s horrifying, but it’s not a function of the technology itself.
Here’s another risk associated with biohacking, one I think is even more serious: By making ourselves smarter and stronger and potentially even immortal (a difference of kind, not just of degree), we may create a society in which everyone feels pressure to alter their biology — even if they don’t want to. To refuse a hack would mean to be at a huge professional disadvantage, or to face moral condemnation for remaining suboptimal when optimization is possible. In a world of superhumans, it may become increasingly hard to stay “merely” human.
“The flip side of all this is the ‘perfect race’ or eugenics specter,” Jorgensen acknowledged. “This is a powerful set of technologies that can be used in different ways. We’d better think about it and use it wisely.”
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Josiah Zayner is a biohacker who’s famous for injecting himself with the gene-editing tool CRISPR. At a time when the technology exists for us to change (or hack) our own DNA, what are the ethics of experimenting on ourselves, and others, at home? On the launch episode of this new podcast , host Arielle Duhaime-Ross talks to Zayner about how he’s thinking about human experimentation today. Plus: new efforts to come up with a code of conduct for biohackers, from legislation to self-regulation.
Subscribe to Reset now on Apple Podcasts , Stitcher , Spotify , or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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What Is Biohacking? | Learn Risks, Benefits, And How To Start.
In recent years, biohacking has become increasingly popular. However, despite the term’s popularity, many people still need to learn what biohacking is. In its simplest form, biohacking is the practice of enhancing physical and mental performance using science, technology, and dietary adjustments. Biohackers are the pioneers in this field, testing various methods and devices to enhance their general health and well-being so others can learn should they so choose.
Biohacking contributes much to the health and wellness field, but it’s not a space to explore lightly. Discover what biohacking is, what to consider before hopping on a biohacking trend, and who should try biohacking—or avoid it altogether.
What is Biohacking?
Biohacking is an all-encompassing term of practice to improve physical and mental performance through technology, medical innovations, supplements, gadgets, and apps. Different methods range from simple (such as spending time in nature) to cutting-edge (like getting technological implants).
Biohackers want to optimize their control over their health while increasing their capabilities. Pioneering biohackers often go to extremes unsuitable for most people, and anyone starting any biohacking method should consult with a trusted medical professional to ensure optimal safety and results.
The Principles of Hormesis
As functional medicine doctors, we encourage our patients to shy away from stress. It’s one of the root causes we identify and address when helping our patients bodies’ heal from the inside out.
However, there’s actually science showing that small doses of stressors—called “hormetic stressors”—amp up the body to promote positive health changes.
For example, a sauna session heats up your body, exposing your cells and tissues to stress as they speed up their processes. However, this hormetic stressor boosts your body’s circulation, filters toxins through your sweat, and amps up your immune system. At Spectra Wellness, we provide forms of hot therapy (like a sauna) and cold therapy (like an ice bath) as part of our biohacking guidance.
Hormetic stress (AKA biohacking) techniques actually benefit your body when administered strategically and in a safe way. As with any level of stress, too much will do more harm than good. Don’t just jump on the intermittent fasting train after reading one article on the internet—you may end up throwing off your hormones and depriving your body of nutrients. That’s why it’s best to have the oversight of a medical professional to ensure your body is truly getting the benefits of hormetic stress.
Examples of Biohacking
The world of biohacking is vast, offering a wide array of answers for anyone wondering what biohacking is. Depending on your personal performance goals, there’s likely a biohack that can help you achieve them. Here are just a few of the more popular and well-known examples of biohacking:
1. Intermittent Fasting
Alternating periods of fasting and eating to achieve weight loss.
2. Cold Plunges & Heat Therapy (Saunas)
Used to boost metabolism, immune function, and circulatory health.
Cognitive performance enhancing supplements.
4. Sleep Optimization
Using various techniques to increase the quality of sleep (i.e. blue-light blocking glasses, powering down screens, meditation before bed, etc.) and proper tools to track what is working.
Using various techniques such as nature bathing or meditation to adjust your thoughts and general everyday experiences.
Using supplements to optimize the body’s functions through vitamins and minerals.
Leveraging heart rate and brainwave feedback through technology. This feedback can consequently be used to create personalized biofeedback strategies.
Is Biohacking Safe?
While biohacking has many benefits, it must be approached in a thoughtful and informed way. Some biohacking techniques are considered safe for most people. These techniques include spending time in nature, exercising, intermittent fasting, hot or cold therapy, and reducing screen time. However, no two people are the same, and health comprises a complex network of considerations. Before embarking on a biohacking plan, always consult a trusted health professional—such as a functional medicine doctor—to explore potential risks.
Who Is Biohacking Good For?
Biohacking can be supportive to anyone, but it specifically benefits people who want to optimize their health and performance, including entrepreneurs, athletes, and busy professionals. People living with chronic health conditions often start researching what biohacking is because it can be helpful for symptom management and health improvement. In fact, many functional medicine health treatments are considered biohacks themselves—even though they’re proven health strategies grounded in science. Spectra Wellness Center uses biohacks like red light therapy to enhance our patient’s health. In fact, we consider biohacking a part of preventive medicine and are passionate about identifying appropriate biohacks for our patients.
What Are Biohacking Risks?
When approached improperly, biohacking carries serious risks—including nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and other damage. Your goals and health history weigh heavily on what techniques are appropriate for an individual. Biohacking has a lot to offer, but only if carried out properly by conducting research and consulting a healthcare professional . Piece-mealing together a biohacking plan from the internet is ill-advised.
Who Should Avoid Biohacking?
While biohacking is beneficial for many, it’s not for everyone. Some individuals may be at a higher risk of negative health effects from certain biohacking techniques. An example would be a person recovering from anorexia should not try intermittent fasting. Pregnant and breastfeeding women must exercise caution with biohacking techniques that could compromise the fetus’ health.
Anyone with pre-existing medical conditions or concerns should also exercise caution when biohacking. While biohacking can help with pre-existing conditions, it’s important to avoid exacerbating them.
How is Functional Medicine Related to Biohacking?
Functional medicine focuses on treating the root cause of disease, not the symptoms. This requires an individualized approach to healthcare, just like what biohacking is. Another similarity between biohacking and functional medicine is they both combine holistic medicine with current advances in science and technology. The combination is a robust hybrid that helps patients pull from various modalities for effective strategies for healthcare.
Anyone wondering what biohacking is and if functional medicine can help implement it will find it’s a genuinely symbiotic match. At our functional medicine clinic in Tampa, we’ll be happy to sit down with you to answer any questions about what biohacking is while exploring ways biohacking can help you achieve your health and wellness goals. In fact, we’ll be able to guide you through our menu of biohacking services in Tampa to see if they can help you safely reach your health goals!
To get started, contact our office for an appointment . We look forward to helping you with your biohacking health journey!
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7 Biohacks to Master Before Worrying About Other Biohacks
For 45 minutes each morning, the veteran hockey player Duncan Keith ritually goes upstairs to what he calls his “lab,” where he has “a bunch of little things that I do to stay healthy.” This, according to an interview this week in The New York Times , includes dousing himself with infrared light, lying for eight minutes on a mat that “has electromagnetic currents,” and taking supplement pills such as glutathione and vitamin C, and liquid herbs such as ashwagandha.
“Sometimes at night, I’ll sleep with a hydrogen inhaler,” Keith added. “I’m a biohacker and a part-time hockey player. It’s basically better living with the help of science.”
The term biohacker is now ubiquitous . Biohacking is a concept that gained currency in popular culture over the past decade, initially as an apparently earnest approach to applying the tech-hacker ethos to biology. It was pushed forward by a small group, mostly healthy, wealthy-ish men, certain that they could find shortcuts to anything, including themselves. Since then, it has jumped from radical personal experimentation to TED stages to everyday lifestyle products, including coffee.
Depending on what forums you explore, biohacking can include anything from procuring “ raw water ” to hanging upside down so that you can “hack your brain” by increasing blood flow (please note: If your brain isn’t getting enough blood, you may be having a stroke) to tracking everything that goes in and out of your body with an obsessiveness that could, in many contexts, be considered pathological.
As popular terms do, biohacking became part of commercial ventures. The “meal-replacement” drink Soylent, Ensure for Millennials, was touted as a biohack. Biohacking has become a marketing buzzword used to sell unregulated “dietary supplements” and to repackage old products, such as coffee with butter. People have added cream to coffee since the beginning of time, but the new iteration is more expensive and is, again, supposed to hack your brain.
Like any fad that tries to sell shortcuts to biology, or any approach in life that claims to shortcut hard work, what the current iteration of biohackers is mostly selling is untested (or “It worked for me!”) health advice that is supposed to upend science. Trying these things tends to result in wasted money and time at best.
Still, there’s value in a sense of control over our own physiology in times when the outside world can seem uncontrollable. So to offer those same benefits in addition to actual biological benefit, here are my top biohacks. Unlike the biohacks that the other gurus are out there selling, these are all-natural. I call them—and I insist on the capitalization here—NATURAL BIOHACKS.
These hacks appear in no particular order because they are all extremely potent. If you’ve got all of them mastered and you still feel compelled to invest in other forms of body-self-optimization, Godspeed. I’ve never met anyone who has.
Sleep (“brain cleansing”?) will extend your life and help prevent pretty much every disease. Yes, even the infectious ones, since sleep deprivation can leave the immune system in tatters. Sleep requires no effort and costs nothing, yet people tend to go out of their way not to do it enough and to brag about not doing it.
Sleep should be an easy sell. It’s a deep meditative state where you explore your subconscious and the dense ball of neurons in our heads wash themselves, clearing out the metabolic by-products (“toxins”). If the pro-work, anti-sleep culture makes you feel lame and self-conscious about, say, leaving a party to go home and sleep, try saying, “I’m going to go biohack my brain.” Then run out of the room.
The key to sleep is to save the last hour of the day for non-work-related things that let your brain cool down. I call this the Amazing Hour, but you can call it whatever you like. Other basic steps to mastering this biohack: no phones in bed , no caffeine or prescription amphetamines before bed, no alcohol before bed because it messes with sleep cycles. Maintain a somewhat regular sleep schedule, and keep your bedroom dark—or wear an eye mask and bring the darkness wherever you go.
Time in nature
The ways natural environments hack our brains are still open questions in a lot of ways, but the notion is common sense. Time in nature has been found likely to decrease brooding, and increase healing after surgery, among other benefits. Still, year after year, the average amount of time people spend indoors increases in wealthy countries. If this is happening to you, you could try ecotherapy or potentially get a prescription for park time from your doctor.
Moving your body
Find what’s right for you—what you enjoy and what’s sustainable and possible within your physical dominion and time schedule. Don’t worry about the latest trend or the need to belong to the most overpriced gym with the nicest soaps or the pressure to break a sweat every time. If you’re moving, you’re doing it right . Move as much as possible.
Eating good food
Exactly what constitutes good is a mix of taste and culture and individual metabolism, and the subject of much debate by people who try to impose one correct way of eating on everyone. From a nutritional perspective, humans are able to thrive on a wide variety of edible things , and people who eat a lot of minimally processed, plant-based things tend to live long, healthy lives. Anyone who makes strict rules about an avoidance-based or one-size-fits-all diet is selling something— probably a supplement , possibly calling it a biohack.
Bonus tricks include eating socially, taking time to cook and eat slowly , and eating from an environmentally conscious perspective —eating locally and sustainably, appreciating all the water and energy and labor that go into every bite you take .
This is all part of what might be called mindfulness or intentionality or gratitude, which can be worked into our daily lives via food. For all the focus on nutrition and taste as the primary and sometimes only metrics of a food’s goodness, the opportunity to solidify one’s sense of place in the world by eating may be the ultimate food hack.
A sense of purpose
Chasing happiness is not a biohack . Chasing purpose is.
The difference is sort of subtle, because when people feel purpose in their lives, they tend to feel happy. But the primary intention is what matters. If you chase the happiness itself, the utilitarian part of your mid-brain will likely lead you to the most expedient path to the strongest hit of dopamine. Often those come to us through substances and screens. These hits can become addictions, no longer giving happiness. Chasing purpose reverses the order: You take up something that doesn’t initially reward you, but pays off, neurotransmitter-wise, in dividends later.
Connection to people and probably dogs
Like it or not, humans form relationships that fill up our time on Earth. If those relationships aren’t to things with beating hearts, then they will be to material things, including substances and screens. It turns out that even though relationships with people and animals require hard work, they deeply hack our biology in ways necessary for health and survival. Social isolation is linked to heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and suicide. Isolated people are more likely to stop grooming and cooking and doing even the most basic biohacks that constitute “life.”
Even if you get rejected or heartbroken, those are biohacks. They’re not in my top seven biohacks, because they involve weeks or months of wretched existential darkness, but you often come out smarter and better off. The depth of that feeling—the despair that, throughout history, humans have proved willing to risk in pursuit of real connection—may be the strongest testament to its biological necessity.
This is the top biohack. Wealthy people live longer than people who cannot afford to eat well and are constantly under stress about things like making rent or missing a day of work wages when the mayor calls a snow day and they have to stay home with the kids.
Wealth is the top predictor of health, globally and throughout history. If you have to work two jobs, or if you live in a neighborhood where you fear for your safety or where there’s intense pollution, or if you don’t have regular access to lead-free water and live in a space that can’t be kept warm in the winter and cool during heat waves, then you’re more likely to suffer. I can’t emphasize this enough: Have money. And get it without compromising your sense of purpose or connection to others, your sense of self via moral decency, or, of course, your sleeping and eating habits.
That’s a lot.
So it’s ideal, if at all possible, to be born into money. But only up to a point—which seems to be when you have so much wealth that you no longer need to work, and so purpose becomes difficult to find, and so does human connection, because everyone wants something from you. See the lyrics on the albums most rappers release after they break out. See also the billionaire Warren Buffett, who said in 1986 that he plans to leave his children “enough money so that they would feel they could do anything, but not so much that they could do nothing.”
Receiving too much money is like playing Monopoly and you get to start with hotels on Park Place and Boardwalk. It doesn’t just ruin the game for the people you’re playing with; it’s also no fun for you. Same if you try to take shortcuts across the board. Or biohack your way through life.
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- Ultimate guide to biohacking: Fad or fab
26 Nov 2021 • 4 min read
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Otherwise known as DIY biology, biohacking is a concept that has become popular with the masses – especially those who are making a deliberate effort to look after their health.
Biohacking essentially means you’re making lots of small lifestyle changes or additions to your daily routine, that are backed by science, in order to increase or maintain your health.
These small acts all add up to change your natural physiology and chemistry, which if done correctly and safely, may be able boost your energy levels and general vitality.
While looking after yourself with the aid of supplementation and exercise has been around for a long time.
The term ‘biohacking’ was first used back in 1988 by the Washington Post, in an article written about the future of personal health and how biotechnology will be used to change the genetics of living beings. 1
The different types of biohacking
Biohacking as a concept is a broad one, so it can be broken down into four key types:
- Nutrigenomics – the Journal of Environmental Health published a study in 2007 all about this area. It defined nutrigenomics as “the study of the effects of nutrients on the expression of an individual’s genetic makeup”. 2 For those of us who aren’t scientists, this means to use your own genetics as a guide to come up with a bespoke diet to optimise your own health. This type of biohacking is used to improve your physical and mental health – as well as to prevent any conditions you may be prone to from developing.
- Grinder biohacking – taking nutrigenomics to the next level, Grinder is the most extreme form of biohacking. This is where people perform experiments on themselves with medication, implants and even technology in order to change their own body and aim to become transhuman. We’re talking cyborg level commitment here, so it’s not recommended to try for yourself.
- DIY biology – the clues in the name with this one, as DIY biology refers to a type of biohacking performed by non-professionals in order to come up with new ways to be healthy. However since these experiments can’t be regulated there are a lot of safety, ethical and legal issues that come with it too.
- DIY gene therapy – gene therapy is one of the newer forms of biohacking using something called CRISPR (no not crisps!). This stands for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats and it is being used by biohackers to alter their own genetics, predominantly to alter their physical features to their own tastes.
We’re sure that after reading the different types of biohacking out there, the easiest, safest and arguably most common is that of nutrigenomics.
But we must stress that if you’re considering trying this, please speak to your GP or a medical professional before making any drastic or sudden changes to your lifestyle.
5 potential benefits of biohacking
Below, we go into the potential benefits of biohacking.
Nutrigenomics may help to lower your risk of certain diseases
The same article that we mentioned earlier published by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences also discussed how this particular form of biohacking could help with disease prevention.
It explains that nutrigenomics focuses on the DNA sequence variations of SNPs (single-nucleotide polymorphisms), as these account for 90% of all human genetic variation.
It turns out that dietary factors may affect some of the SNPs differently in each person to either increase or decrease the risk of disease. 3
Specifically, this area may be able to help with preventing chronic diseases as scientists can now measure variations in DNA – which is what causes chronic disease as opposed to genetic mutations.
Nutrigenomics may help you lose weight
The use of nutrigenomics may also help people with their weight, especially if they are prone to obesity.
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences article that we’ve been referencing throughout the guide also touched on this idea, stating that five SNPs with a link to increased obesity risk and resistance weight reduction have been identified. 4
So this is a promising sign for creating a better approach to obesity than the current one-size-fits-all method.
Instead, nutrigenomics could be used to indicate what sorts of foods to avoid or to eat more of – rather than guessing or usually the same old diets that don’t necessarily work for everyone!
Nutrigenomics may reduce symptoms of depression
There’s no doubt that nutrition plays an important role when it comes to our physical and mental health.
But did you know that our genes and the sorts of food we eat interact with each other in a way that could impact certain brain disorders like depression.
Research published by EbioMedicine in 2016 explored how brain gene networks are linked with metabolic and brain disorders.
In the article they state that, “genes affected by fructose significantly overlapped with human GWAS genes for brain disorders”, which highlights the connection between our genes and our eating habits. And that’s where nutrigenomics comes in. 5
Nutrigenomics may help with blood pressure
Again, this type of biohacking may have a role in supporting people with blood pressure issues.
Research by the American Heart Association found that two variations of the same gene reacted differently to high salt intake, with one type experiencing increased blood pressure and the other type staying within the parameters. 6
Another science paper published in 2019 by The Journals of Gerontology used nutrigenomic analysis to study the effect of blueberries on blood pressure.
They found that there was a 13-fold increase in expression of miR-181c after wild blueberry consumption, and concluded that based on this nutrigenomic data, dietary (poly)phenols like those in blueberries have anti-inflammatory properties, making them attractive candidates for dietary cardiovascular disease prevention strategies. 7
Nutrigenomics may support your gut health
Last up in our list of the benefits of biohacking is the potential to support with gut health issues.
Studies in nutrigenomics have found that certain chronic gut conditions, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, are not only linked to inherited genes, but also other variants. It’s these variants that are said to cause disruptions to bacterial homeostasis in the gut, and the microbiota in people with these conditions is altered. 8
What are the dangers of biohacking?
While biohacking is becoming pretty trendy, we wouldn’t recommend that you start experimenting on yourself Frankenstein style.
In fact, doing so could lead to some very serious health complications… find out more of the dangers of biohacking below.
It may cause cancer
It goes without saying that implanting yourself with foreign objects isn’t the best idea, but it can be even more dangerous than you might think.
For example, in 2015 the Journal of Autoimmunity published research on silicone implants and found that it could increase the risk of getting cancer. 9
Messing around with gene therapy could also lead to inducing a tumour if you accidentally edit the wrong part of your DNA. 10
It may cause chronic infections
The dangers of biohacking when it concerns injecting yourself with foreign objects doesn’t end there. Doing so might also leave you with a nasty chronic infection.
A review from Frontiers in Immunology from 2019 looked into this with chronic-implant related bone infections.
They highlighted that the implant being a foreign material as well as the bacteria that comes with it, can disrupt the regulation of the immune response and misbalance of bone homeostasis in favor of bacterial persistence, bone destruction and chronic infections. 11
So you might want to give that type of biohacking a miss…
What is biohacking technology?
Biohacking technology generally refers to the type of biohacking that involves embedding technological equipment into the body.
Think trackable fitness devices but in your body. Biohacking technology involves implants and interventions to enhance body performance, appearance and health. 12
This includes anything from electronic tattoos or biostamps, password pills and memory chips, to magnetic implants and guiding/GPS systems.
5 easy ways to start biohacking safely
Want to know about biohacking for beginners without the added dangers?
Check out these safe methods for biohacking and give them a go yourself:
Give an elimination diet a go
One of the best ways to try biohacking at home is the elimination diet.
If you’ve ever suspected that you’re allergic to something you’ve been eating but you’re not sure what it is, this biohack may be the way forward for you. 13
This is where you get rid of a certain food, one at a time, before slowly re-introducing it to your diet.
After one to two weeks of elimination, you can assess whether your allergies or general health feels better, and see how you go with the reintroduction.
During this phase, you might be allergic to the foods you eliminated if you start to experience these symptoms:
- Stomach pain
- Other abnormal symptoms
Arguably one of the easiest and most common biohacks that you’ve probably been doing already is drinking caffeine.
Whether you opt for coffee, a cup of English breakfast or a refreshing green tea – these caffeinated drinks are well known for their energy boosting effects.
In order to get the most out of this biohack, you’ll have to consider when you’re having your caffeine fix.
Looking at the science, cortisol (the stress hormone which wakes you up) is highest in the morning and lowest at around midnight, so to be completely efficient with your caffeine, try to avoid having it straight away and leave it until mid-morning or early afternoon instead. 14
For loads more info on this, check out our article ‘ Is Caffeine Good For You ?’.
Say farewell to sugar
This one might sadden the sweet-toothed readers, but giving up the white stuff is another great biohack to give a go.
While it may not be easy, giving up sugar might help you to lose some excess pounds, reduce your risk of cavities and even support your heart health. 15,16,17
If you don’t know where to start when it comes to saying goodbye to added sugar, don’t worry. Use our guide on ‘ How To Give Up Sugar’ to give you a kickstart.
Try blue light therapy
When we think of blue light, being told off about going on your phone or watching the telly too close to bedtime usually comes to mind.
But when used in the right way, it can be a pretty easy way to biohack your body.
In fact, research by the American Psychological Association highlights how it can be beneficial too – stating that blue light from the sun can help to improve your mood or enhance your brain function in the day. 18
Test out intermittent fasting
We all know that what you eat is super important for your health, but what about when you eat?
That’s where the biohack of intermittent fasting comes in.
Generally, this is where people eat in a much smaller window of time than normal – usually fasting for 16 hours and eating in the remaining 8 hours.
Doing so may provide a variety of health benefits, which include:
- Changing your genes and molecules that are linked with longevity and protection from diseases
- Increasing your metabolism
- Enhanced resistance to oxidative stress 19,20,21
Who to follow for more biohacking info
If you’re interested in finding out more about biohacking, there are a few key influential figures in this space. They include:
- David Asprey – The Bulletproof Blog
- Ben Greenfield – Diet & Fat Loss Advice
- Joe Cohen – Selfhacked
While this information may be interesting and tempting to try, it can have some very dangerous and unexpected side effects – so it’s worth speaking to a health professional if you want to find out more.
The final say
While some forms of biohacking like nutrigenomics can have some benefits, a lot of other biohacking practices can have some serious implications on your health.
So it’s important to do plenty of research and speak to medical professionals for the best advice in this area.
You also asked...
What is biohacking your body, is biohacking illegal, why is biohacking bad.
The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.
Last updated: 26 November 2021
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Home » The Tony Robbins Blog » Health & Vitality » What is biohacking?
What is biohacking?
Everything you need to know about biohacking your body.
In an episode of his popular podcast , Tony talks about three of his favorite biohacking methods: cryotherapy, red light therapy and dynamic sequential compression. He says that the combination of these methods is “invigorating, strengthening and allows me to recover so much faster and perform at a higher level.” Give yourself an edge in sports and in life with these three top techniques – and discover even more tips for how to biohack your body.
What is biohacking your body ?
Biohacking your body means changing your chemistry and your physiology through science and self-experimentation to increase energy and vitality . It’s a broad definition, but that’s also because the concept is constantly evolving. There are many different answers to “ What is biohacking ?” including:
Lifestyle and dietary changes
These include the more traditional habits that you may not even think of as biohacking : yoga and meditation , eating healthy , spending time in nature, finding exercise you enjoy , sleeping well and using biohacking supplements . These are the rituals you must master before learning more about how to biohack .
Did you ever think of your Apple watch or weight loss app as biohacking ? All the wearable technology that gives you reminders to take more steps each day, drink water or stand up and stretch is a type of biohacking – and can be extremely helpful to those who are just starting out.
Many in the biohacking world consider implanted technology the next level, but it isn’t mainstream yet. Yet the technology exists for microchips, bionic eyes, mind-controlled drones and gene editing – and it could be in our futures.
This is the type of biohacking that makes the news. It’s based on a technology known as CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats), which allows individuals to edit their own genetics. It’s highly controversial and unregulated, for now existing only on the fringes of the biohacking world.
The possibilities are endless, but they are all rooted in the idea that we can change our bodies and our brains, and that by doing so we can ultimately become smarter, faster and better as human beings.
What is the difference between biohacking and biotechnology?
The main difference between biohacking and biotechnology is that biotech is a regulated industry, while biohacking is more “underground.” Biotechnology encompasses any type of science that studies biology and technology together. Biohacking frequently makes use of biotechnology, but it doesn’t have to – changes to what you eat through a diet or to your mindset through exercises like priming or visualization are types of biohacking .
How to biohack
The best place to start biohacking your body is with diet, exercise and mindfulness exercises. From there, start using wearables like the FitBit or the Apple Watch to track the way you operate. You could also start experimenting with the power of music in your everyday life and adopting a sustainable diet . Once you’ve mastered these basic biohacks, you’ll be ready for something new and different. Consider one of these non-invasive methods and see what benefits you reap .
1. Biohacking your circulatory system: Cryotherapy
Cryotherapy or cold therapy is a biohacking method that exposes the entire body to very cold temperatures. Cryotherapy causes severe vasoconstriction throughout the body. When the body returns to normal temperature, there is a rush of blood back to the tissues, which brings with it lots of nutrients and minerals – and gives you an endorphin rush.
The best part of cryotherapy is that it takes only three minutes. Our time is valuable . Most of us don’t have an hour every day for a massage or a chiropractor visit. But we probably have three minutes. It’s worth it for this invigorating, restoring experience.
Athletes from Usain Bolt to Floyd Mayweather use cryotherapy for sports recovery and to perform at their best. This biohacking technique is becoming more popular and accessible, doubling in growth in America for four straight years. Take it from Tony and go for it. He says, “When you experience it directly, you’ll never go back.”
2. Biohacking your health: Red light therapy
Have you ever spent a lot of time indoors and begun to feel . . . off? Our bodies and brains need light to function at their best. Not only does the sun give us an important dose of vitamin D, but it helps us in a number of other physiological and emotional ways. Let’s look a little closer – specifically at the light wavelengths between 600 and 900 nanometers (nm). How does this range of light waves impact us and how can we use it to biohack the body?
Studies have shown that your body responds particularly well to red and near-infrared wavelengths, which range from 600 to 900 nm. This particular range of light waves are absorbed by the skin to a depth of about 8 to 10 millimeters, at which point your mitochondrial chromophores absorb the photons. This activates a number of nervous system and metabolic processes.
In plainer terms, red light therapy has become an increasingly popular form of biohacking used to treat a number of conditions. It has been proven to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and restore function. And because it is a non-invasive and non-chemical treatment, it’s not as intimidating as other forms of biohacking .
Here are some places that provide red light therapy:
- Rheumatologist or dermatologist
- Medical spas
3. Biohacking your lymphatic system: Compression therapy
As Tony says, “If you don’t get the dirt out of your gas tank, the fuel isn’t going to work properly.” That’s why he focuses on cleansing and detoxing first before strengthening. The way to do that is through the lymphatic system.
The lymphatic system is the sewage system of the body. It gets out the waste and lactic acid that builds up from working out and from natural bodily processes. Compression therapy increases blood flow to certain parts of the body, flushing out toxins and speeding up recovery.
Tony, Zac Efron, Le B ron James and plenty of other celebrities are fans of compression therapy. Tony finds that a combination of cryotherapy and compression therapy is especially valuable for recovery.
4. Biohacking your bones: OsteoStrong
We talk a lot about cardiac health. After all, heart disease is the #1 killer of women in the United States. Everyone needs to be aware of cardiovascular diseases and how to protect themselves as best they can. As a culture, we also talk a lot about skin health – slathering on sunscreen as part of our daily routine and supplementing our diets with collagen-boosting foods. Weight loss, inflammation, memory, GI health and how an unhealthy diet and lack of exercise can prematurely age you – these are all at the forefront of our minds. But how often do we think about the health of our bones?
A decrease in bone health creeps up on you and most people are unaware of how bone density changes over time. Roughly up until the age of 30, men and women actually build more bone than they lose, so we are constantly strengthening our bones and working on bone density. But when we hit our mid-30s, things change. And if you’ve passed that benchmark, you may have felt that shift.
After reaching their mid-30s, women lose about 2% of bone density every year, and that continues for a few years following menopause. This leaves women with a high likelihood of experiencing osteoporosis.
Men lose bone density at a much slower rate, but they continue to lose bone mass until the age of about 65. So even though they may have adequate bone mass for a longer period of time, the older they get, the more susceptible they are to developing osteoporosis.
A solution to declining bone density
So what do you do? Consider OsteoStrong , a non-pharmaceutical way of improving bone density, strength and balance as one of your biohacking supplements .
According to OsteoStrong’s website, research indicates that the stimulus required to activate the growth of healthy bone tissue is 4.2 multiples of body weight. However, this level of force would be exceptionally difficult to achieve on your own. That’s why OsteoStrong utilizes the Spectrum System, which is part of a category of devices called the Robotic Musculoskeletal Development System (RDMS).
The Spectrum System consists of four separate devices. Under the supervision of a trained technician, each device allows you to achieve forces in excess of five to 12 times your own body weight.
The company behind OsteoStrong maintains that this system is not meant to replace exercise, but to supplement it. In fact, their system is meant to increase bone and muscular strength in a way that you can’t achieve in a gym, but will show immediate results in the way you perform while working out. This biohacking supplement is meant to improve your overall health by providing extra support to your skeletal system. It can be done by everyone at every age – and it only takes about seven minutes per week. Customers have seen increases of 4% to 12% in bone density per year.
5. Biohacking your diet: Intermittent fasting
We can’t have a conversation about health and biohacking without talking about biohacking your diet. Carb-light meals. Eating the right kinds of fats. Abstaining from sugar. Eating more superfoods .
R esearch has found that it’s not just what we eat, it’s when we eat that can make a huge difference. Many experts have turned to intermittent fasting to help you optimize your body’s nutrition intake. Intermittent fasting will not only help you lose fat but also gain muscle and energy.
If you just flinched at the idea of “fasting,” we hear you. The notion of prolonged fasting – not eating for 48 to 72 hours – isn’t practical for the average person. But intermittent fasting is a happy in-between. It’s more of an eating pattern that you follow throughout the day, not an old-fashioned diet, and will allow you to still reap many of the benefits of a true fast.
To understand why intermittent fasting works, you need to make the distinction between your body being in a “fed state” and a “fasted state.” When your body is in a fed state, you are digesting and absorbing food. Generally speaking, you are in a fed state for about three to five hours after eating. During this phase, your insulin levels are high and your body is focused on digestion.
When your body is allowed to rest during the fasted state , you experience a number of benefits. When you fast, you increase your levels of growth hormones as much as five times their normal rate, which boosts your metabolic rate. Fasting can also reduce your insulin resistance, which lowers your blood sugar and makes stored body fat more accessible to burn. Some experts indicate that intermittent fasting may also reduce LDL cholesterol (the “bad ” cholesterol) , which is a known risk factor when it comes to heart disease.
Fasting may also provide a number of other significant benefits including improved cognitive function , cancer prevention , increased cellular autophagy (cellular waste removal) and lower levels of inflammation .
While there are many versions of intermittent fasting, the most user-friendly is the 16/8 method (also known as the Leangains protocol). This method involves a straightforward structure in which you restrict your daily eating period to eight hours. For example, each day you eat from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. , and fast for the other 16 hours.
Biohacking your body involves testing out new techniques and finding out what works. Alternate day fasting has you fasting one day, then eating normally the next. You might restrict calories one day, then eat normally the next. The 5:2 method involves eating normally five days a week and completely fasting the other two days. You can also lengthen or shorten your eating window.
Does this type of diet sound intimidating? Start with a 14-hour fast for one week. With this fast, you can eat from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. , then fast for the next 14 hours. When that becomes comfortable, cut back to an eating period of 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for a week and so on until you reach a fasting period of 16 hours.
6. Biohacking your brain: Functional music
Music has an incredible effect on the brain . With over 100 billion neurons that are constantly using electricity to talk to each other, your brain is like Grand Central Station. If everyone is chattering loudly at the same time, it can be tough to concentrate on what you need to get done. That’s where music biohacking comes in. Brain activity can be measured in a wave-like pattern and determines if you feel alert, sleepy, relaxed or stressed. Things that can affect your brainwaves include the activity you are currently performing, how much restorative rest you’ve had and what you’ve just eaten or drank.
One of the most reliable ways to change your brainwaves is through a consistent sound wave. Audio entrainment, a form of music biohacking , uses binaural beats and tones to synchronize with your brain waves and induce a meditative, relaxed state. You can access programs developed specifically for your own brain and the activities you want to accomplish at Brain.fm . If you’re not ready to go that far, you can still change your mood and mindset by queuing up your favorite playlist and listening while you work out, cook breakfast or commute to work.
7. Biohacking your mindset: Gratitude
How we view life has a huge effect on our moods, how we treat others and our general levels of fulfillment. When you have an abundance mindset , you’re consistently grateful for everything that comes your way and are always focused on the positive. Have a hard time adopting this type of perspective? Changing your mindset is really about nothing more than practice. You need to consistently refocus your brain to see the positive in every situation until it becomes second nature. These biohacking techniques and tools can help:
- A gratitude journal in which you write three to five things you’re grateful for helps you reframe the day to focus on the positive and reflect on all the good things that happen to you.
- Take a gratitude walk where you give thanks and send positive energy to every living thing you see. If you walk to work or take a morning jog, you can easily incorporate this into your normal routine.
- Write a weekly letter of gratitude to someone who has helped you or who means a lot to you. It could be a family member, a long-lost friend or even a coworker who always remembers to stock your favorite coffee.
- Begin the day with a ritual , such as meditating, and set an intention to be grateful for all you encounter.
8. Biohacking your function: Supplements
Exercising, eating right and developing the right mindset are important steps to unlocking an extraordinary life . Biohacking supplements help you take this to the next level by improving focus, increasing energy and helping your body benefit from the most bioavailable forms of nutrients on the market .
We often don’t get all the vitamins and minerals we need to keep us at peak performance. High-quality supplements in the form of pills, shakes, bars or drinks can fill the nutritional gap and help boost performance, detoxify our systems and achieve daily energy.
Tony has created a variety of healthy supplements , drinks and bars that help you feel your best every day and make biohacking your body easy , including:
Vitamin B12 and folate are essential to your nervous and circulatory systems, helping to optimize your mood and increase your focus. This supplement boosts your brainpower so you can perform at the highest levels.
Are you always tired and in a fog? When you put demands on your mind and body without refueling your tank, you’ll run out of gas. Vital Energy supplies you with the vitamins and nutrients you need to run at peak efficiency.
Biohacking for health and happiness
Ultimately, what is biohacking ? It’s a way to change your body, your health and your brain so that you can reach your goals and achieve a peak state of mind . Whether you use supplements, technology like red light therapy or you make changes to incorporate an abundance mindset, biohacking is meant to help you make lasting, positive change.
Need help incorporating biohacking into your life? Speak with a professional, like a coach , and start educating yourself on the subject. Once you’re ready to begin, your body will thank you for all the hard work you’ve put in to making it the best it can be.
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Everything You Need to Know About Biohacking Your Body
The term might sound high-tech, but chances are you're already incorporating some "biohacks" into your daily routine.
Taking your health into your own hands is a pretty widely accepted concept these days. Those who are into health and wellness are constantly "hacking" their bodies for the best possible results-whether it's by using exercise to stay on top of mental health , adding butter, coconut oil, and more to their morning coffee for a natural energy boost, or even eating based on their menstrual cycles to relieve PMS symptoms. It makes sense, then, that the concept of biohacking is making its way into the mainstream.
But what does the term actually mean, and why should the average health-conscious person care about it? Here's what you need to know.
What Is Biohacking?
"Biohacking is the process of using science, biology, and self-experimentation to take control of and upgrade your body, mind, and life," says Dave Asprey, founder and CEO of Bulletproof . (And yes, drinking bulletproof coffee is one example of a biohack.) "Simply put, biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so you have more control over your own biology." Asprey is a pioneer of this movement and is largely responsible for bringing it into the mainstream, along with much of Silicon Valley .
Biohacking rejects the idea that the best and only approach to getting healthier and avoiding disease is to eat less and exercise more. "It's not as simple as 'calories in, calories out.' What you put in your body is every bit as important as how much," says Asprey. While popular mainstream diets like keto and paleo are common among biohackers, the philosophy of the movement acknowledges that what works for one person may not work for everyone.
Some credit biohacking with helping them lose weight and take control of their health. "When I began biohacking, I weighed 300 pounds and felt like crap," says Asprey. "Being a cloud computing exec at the time, I decided to take the data-centric approach I used at work and turn it on myself. I experimented with a variety of different variables to tweak my own biology and take things into my own hands."
That's essentially the spirit of biohacking. Devotees aren't necessarily eschewing traditional medicine to deal with health problems and stay on top of disease prevention. But they're also not afraid to do a little tinkering on their own to figure out what works best for them.
All the Ways to Biohack
One of the coolest things about biohacking is that you might already be doing it without even knowing. A few easy biohacks include shifting bedtimes to see if you wake up more refreshed, or starting a meditation practice to get a handle on work stress, says Asprey. Anytime you change something about your lifestyle or diet and monitor the changes you experience, you're biohacking, he says.
Nutrigenomics is another element of biohacking that you likely do on the reg; it simply refers to switching up the nutrition and activity of your body for optimal results. "If you think some of this just sounds like learning how food, activity, and stimuli change the way your body operates, you're absolutely correct," says Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C., founder of Ancient Nutrition and the Keto360 program. (Here, one editor shares her two-week transformation after trying the high-fat, low-carb diet .) "This type of biohacking is really just building on the concept that our bodies are ever-changing, and using these discoveries to 'live your best life,' as many biohackers put it."
And while diet and workout adjustments fall under the scope of biohacking, so do some more *experimental* practices. "Some of the more cutting-edge biohacks that I've tried include using stem cells to help injuries heal, taking nootropics or smart drugs like Modafinil for energy, and hanging out in infrared saunas to get rid of toxins on a cellular level," Asprey says. In contrast to making diet, exercise, and lifestyle adjustments, some (but not all!) of these more progressive biohacking practices aren't completely science-backed, nor is your doctor likely to be psyched about your trying them.
There's also a movement within biohacking called do-it-yourself biology (DIYBio), a subculture of people who literally do biology experiments outside of the conventional research setting to test unproven science. "Many of the 'educators' in this movement are academics or corporate researchers who then teach the average Joe how to conduct experiments," says Axe. Some of the less time-tested biohacking ideas that you probably don't want to try fall into this category, such as parabiosis (consuming or infusing a young healthy person's blood into your own...yup), gene editing , or lifting weights in freezing cold water .
Lastly, there's a much less mainstream subcategory called grinder biohacking , which focuses on technology implants or chemical manipulation of the body, according to Axe. These biohacks include actually putting things-like LED lights and headphone implants-directly into the body. Needless to say, these are methods we don't recommend trying at home.
Easy Biohacks Worth Trying
So why should you care about biohacking? "I see biohacking as something that will continue to become more and more accepted and integrated into health and wellness routines," says Asprey. "In many ways it already has."
"For the average, health-conscious individual, biohacking is fascinating because it takes principles that many of us have already understood and combines them to maximize physical and mental health," says Axe. Here are some examples:
Focus on nutrition. "Some of the best ways to biohack your body via nutrition are to kick your sugar habit, eat a lot more healthy fats, use an elimination diet to find out if you're sensitive to any foods, drink a lot of water, and fill your plate with mostly non-starchy vegetables," says Axe. Basically, any diet change that makes you feel more on top of your game is a healthy way of trying out biohacking.
Optimize your sleep. "Another way biohacking methods can be great for the average person is by tweaking sleep rituals and patterns to get the most out of your seven to nine hours every night," says Axe. This can be as simple as adjusting your device screens to a warmer temperature after a certain time at night (by using an app or "night mode" on your phone), not eating after certain times, and using essential oils known to induce calm and rest, he says.
Try "rewilding". "Many biohacking experts teach that we should fight against our 'domestication' and instead, spend more time outside, eat less processed foods, drink better water, be exposed to sunlight, and learn to love the outdoors," explains Axe explains. Think "paleo," but for your entire lifestyle instead of just your food. So try doing that yoga routine in your backyard tomorrow, he suggests-you'll benefit not just from the exercise but also from just being in nature .
Though many in cutting-edge health and medicine are excited about the prospect of biohacking, it's important to look at new practices and techniques with a critical eye before trying them. "While it's exciting to see how people may be able to enhance or maximize their physical potential through natural means, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the concept of biohacking, particularly when it comes to pushing your body to unknown limits or using chemical and technological enhancements to do things your body may not have been designed to do," says Axe.
"I would caution anyone delving into biohacking to be very careful what they put in their body or put their body through ," he continues. "Small, lasting changes to get to your best life are a much better option than spending all the money you have on novel products and training experiences that may not be effective or safe."
Still, biohacking in itself is definitely something that experts see as a positive trend. "My hope is that the 'everyone can do science' concept of DIYBio, along with the successes of those adjusting their diet and lifestyle to reflect healthier practices, may lead to a more thorough understanding of biology-and how the world around us already contains all we need to thrive," says Axe. And the idea that each one of us has the power to make the most of our biology? That's super empowering.
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Beginners Guide To Biohacking: 9 Hacks to Maximize Your Potential
Table of contents, what is biohacking, the fundamentals of biohacking for beginners, what is genetic profiling, how do we achieve ketosis, supplements for promoting ketosis, body hacking the brain with nootropics, how to improve posture while sitting, getting started with meditation, some research on meditation, eat real, living foods, breath air from nature, expose yourself to sunlight.
How to Use Herbs And Supplements For Biohacking
Some Herbs Commonly Used by Biohackers
Gratitude journal, try stoicism, what is stress, how biohackers increase their stress resistance.
Staying alive is straightforward, but for a biohacker living simply isn’t enough.
Biohackers seek to enhance their lives by optimizing their bodies. They do this in the areas of lifestyle, nutrition, supplementation, and even philosophy.
Biohacking is a large topic. It’s something many people have devoted their entire lives towards exploring.
Biohacking involves a series of techniques that aim to “hack” your own biology to perform optimally in any given area.
In the most basic sense, biohacking is the practice of human optimization. It’s conducted by individuals seeking to be the best versions of themselves.
Biohacking targets many areas of life. Its main focus, however, is on things like focus and memory , athletic ability , lifestyle habits , or longevity .
There are a lot of different techniques and ideas involved in biohacking, each with their own set of benefits.
Some of these concepts are fairly simple and straightforward. Examples include:
- Philosophical ideas like stoicism
- Social practices like gratitude
- Postural techniques
- Sleep optimisation
- Herbal and nutritional supplementation
Other areas within the biohacking industry can get more advanced. Some require more cutting-edge technology to perform.
A few examples of cutting-edge biohacking techniques include:
- Neurofeedback devices
- Hyperbaric chambers
- Intravenous nutrition
- Genetic Profiling
- Altitude simulation
- Body modification
Biohacking takes a systems-thinking approach.
This means considering the effects on our body (the system) by first looking at the smaller parts that make up that system (our physiology).
A fundamental part of biohacking is understanding the way our physiology works. Once we understand how something works we can find ways to optimize it with greater precision.
There are biohacking concepts for everything from athletic performance to cognitive function .
Get to Know Your DNA with Genetic Profiling
Biohacking revolves around the idea that we can exert a level of control and optimization over the way our body functions. A good starting point for this is through DNA profiling.
This helps us achieve a baseline from which we can measure changes. Giving us a better understanding of our inherent strengths and weaknesses.
Our genes are the blueprint for our bodily functions. Every protein, cell membrane, and hormone is designed in the cell from a recipe located in the gene. Think of it as a recipe book that we reference every time we need to build a protein or new cell.
The field of human genetics has advanced to a point where we can identify particular patterns in our DNA. This allows us to determine our genetic strengths and weaknesses.
For example, there are some gene combinations that determine how we metabolize fats or caffeine.
Others are useful for determining our risk of developing illnesses like:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Celiac Disease
- And many more
The whole idea behind genetic profiling is to determine which areas we should focus on in terms of health. We’re essentially hacking our own DNA by knowing its strengths and weaknesses. We can then perform activities that either minimize or complement these attributes.
Although genetic profiling isn’t required to begin biohacking, it will go a long way towards achieving true optimization of your body.
With companies like 23 & Me making DNA profiling simple and affordable , everybody has access to this useful technology. You simply order a kit, deposit the genetic sample (usually saliva) and mail it back. Their lab then tests the sample and will send you an email with a link to your genetic information online.
Hack Your Diet With Nutrition
Nutrition affects everything in the human body and therefore is an essential component of biohacking.
As mentioned in the previous point, we can use the results of genetic profiling to determine the strengths and weaknesses of our body. We do this so that we can optimize these attributes.
We’re essentially “hacking” our nutrition to meet the strengths and weaknesses of our DNA.
For example, there is a gene known as APOE that a lot of genetic testing companies look at. There are 3 possible variants of this gene that can determine our ability to process fats.
Depending on the APOE gene variant you have, it may be more beneficial to go on a high-fat diet than a high carb diet or vice versa.
Other findings may indicate a reduced ability to metabolize and absorb iron. This suggests that we adopt supplemental iron or iron-rich foods to our diet to boost this disadvantage.
The list goes on.
One of the major nutritional techniques biohackers are using is a process called ketosis. This is based off the fact that the majority of people (78%) have the APOE3 gene variant. This allows us to process fats more efficiently than other sources of energy .
The basic concept behind ketosis is to change the body’s primary source of fuel from sugar (glucose) to fats (ketones).
Ketones supply twice as much energy per gram than carbohydrates (37 to 17 kJ respectively). They also eliminate the ups and downs in energy levels that come with a glucose-based system.
When in ketosis, we experience more stable energy levels throughout the day. We’re then better able to manage or avoid our hunger and food cravings.
You can think of it like this: fat burns like coal, long and steadily for many hours. On the other hand, glucose is like jet fuel, it burns quickly and with a lot of energy. The downside is the energy produced from sugar doesn’t last long at all.
Ketosis Offers More Consistent Energy Levels
Ketosis is useful because it changes the way our body burns energy.
With glucose as our primary source of fuel, we experience large swings in energy levels.
Think about how you feel before a meal… weak and irritable. Once we’ve eaten we get a rush of energy for an hour or two, only to crash again a few hours later.
It’s like a rollercoaster ride of energy levels.
With ketosis, we begin burning fat as a primary source of fuel instead of glucose.
This allows us to maintain much more stable energy levels throughout the day and allows us to go longer between meals.
Ketosis Boosts Cognitive Function
Ketosis has also been shown to have a positive impact on cognitive function. It induces flow states and protects our brain from degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis [2, 3, 6, 8].
Ketosis Improves Athletic Performance
Athletes are hacking their diet with ketosis in order to perform longer and harder than ever before.
Part of the reason for this is the fact that ketosis doesn’t drain the bodies glycogen reserves. These reserves are used to supply energy to the body when blood glucose levels dip.
There are 2 problems with glycogen:
- It results in a buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, causing damage and fatigue faster and makes repair take longer between workouts.
- It has a relatively small fuel tank to draw from for energy, lasting roughly 90 minutes before reaching exhaustion.
Athletes that have switched over to ketosis are better able to avoid lactic acid buildup. They’ve also provided the body with access to a much larger fuel tank to support energy levels. This fuel tank is the fat stores of the body, which in healthy individuals can sustain exercise for many hours.
Ketosis involves a change in dietary philosophy to favor fats and reduce the intake of carbohydrates and proteins. There are a lot of different preferences on the exact proportions of this diet, but a good starting point would be to consume:
- 15% proteins
- 10% or fewer carbohydrates
For the first few days, our blood glucose levels will begin to lower. This causes our cells to produce hormones that give us cravings for sugar so that we can boost these blood sugar levels.
If we push through this uncomfortable stage, our cells begin to look for energy elsewhere. This is when our body begins to optimize itself for consuming ketones, which are readily available from the fat content in our body.
Fat stores will begin to break down into tiny molecules known as ketones. These ketones enter the blood and feed our mitochondria directly to produce the energy we need. Over time, our body begins to prefer this system and will use it as the primary source of fuel.
Inducing ketosis can take between 1 and 2 weeks and reaches its full effects after about 6 months of regular practice.
There are a few supplements suggested for promoting ketosis within our bodies.
Some examples include:
- Exogenous ketones
One of the most popular supplements for promoting ketosis is Bulletproof coffee. This is simply a combination of a fat like butter or coconut oil, and caffeine (in the form of coffee).
The caffeine in the coffee stimulates the breakdown of fat into ketones. The fat content then provides a rich dietary fuel for the body to use immediately.
Bulletproof coffee can be used on a daily basis to “train” the body to begin the process of ketosis.
One of the biggest goals biohackers have is to improve cognition.
With more efficient cognitive abilities, whether it’s memory, focus, clarity of thought, or mental stamina, better cognitive function provides a greater chance of making correct decisions in our lives… both large and small.
One of the most popular nootropics, Modafinil, makes for a good example. It was shown to improve visual pattern recognition, memory, spatial planning, and reaction time in a study involving 60 healthy males .
It’s easy to see the benefits these attributes can bring to anybody’s lifestyle.
Don’t feel convinced yet? Here’s what smoking can do to your health in the long run:
- Increasing acetylcholine levels in the brain
- Promoting a balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems
- Supplying nutritional precursors to various brain structures and neurotransmitters
- Improving blood flow to the brain
- Decreasing the rate of oxidative damage to the nerve cells
- Promoting Alpha-brain waves
Biohackers use various compounds to target one or more of these processes to optimize their cognitive function. Some of the key nootropics that biohackers are using includes:
The easiest way to get your feet wet with nootropics is to experiment with a popular nootropic “stack” (formula). Some of the most popular and well-rounded nootropic stacks available include:
- Alpha Brain by Onnit labs
- Qualia by Neurohacker Collective
Good Posture, Sit Like You Mean It
Most people in the modern world spend the majority of their time sitting down.
Whether they’re sitting at their desk at work, or at home watching tv or surfing the web, the average person sits for about 10 hours per day.
Studies have consistently shown that sitting for this long can have deleterious consequences to our bodies over time .
Some of these consequences include:
- Chronic pain
- Decline in athletic ability
What makes sitting so long so bad for us you ask? Well aside from the possibility that those sitting all day have a sedentary lifestyle, the major problem is poor posture.
Poor posture has a profound effect on our bodies over time. It causes the muscles to tighten, resulting with inflammation and eventually chronic pain. Poor posture can ultimately diminish our athletic potential.
The simple solution to this is to use biohacking techniques to strengthen your posture. The goal is to eliminate the chances of damaging your muscles and joints while you work.
One of the best ways to eliminate muscle tightness from sitting all day is to use a foam roller for 15-20 minutes each day. These rollers work by massaging your muscles to relieve tension. It allows them to return to their normal state and avoids chronic tension. This results in a more positive outcome on the health concerns associated with it.
Another method for maintaining a good posture is to focus on engaging your abs about 20-30% while you sit. This pulls your spine into alignment by flexing your hips forward and your neck up.
It’s important to combine this with proper neck alignment. Avoid looking down at your computer by positioning your monitor at eye level. You should be looking straight forward with your neck in a neutral position. Imagine someone is pulling up on your head from the top.
The whole idea behind developing a good posture is to avoid the negative effects sitting has on our bodies throughout the day. As with many biohacking techniques, this needs to be done regularly for best results.
Try setting a timer on your watch or computer to remind you every 90 minutes or so to focus on your posture. Over time this will become a regular habit and you’ll be able to maintain a good posture all day long.
Hack Your Decision Making With Meditation
The human brain has evolved around our ability to form emotional responses to things in our environment. This allows us to fear things that are dangerous, love things that benefit us.
The problem with this emotional response is that it often clouds our judgment and fogs the most logical decisions for a given problem.
Ideally, we would have the ability to endure emotional reactions and respond to a situation using logic. Meditation helps us achieve this because it allows us to take notice and observe our emotions and our thoughts.
Being aware of these emotions helps us to identify them when they appear. It gives us the ability to look past them to see the solution to our problem with more clarity.
We begin to stop making rash, unhelpful decisions and maintain a calm focus. It allows us to find ways to navigate even the toughest problems with as little collateral damage as possible.
Depending on where you look you’ll find articles or meditation gurus promoting their own form of meditation. A lot of them even go as far as saying that their methods are the best.
The fact of the matter is that meditation is simple. The specific details of the rituals done before or after a meditation session don’t actually matter. What does matter, however, is the repetition.
The whole point of meditation is to take control of your parasympathetic nervous system. This can be achieved through controlled breathing. Once this happens, our mind starts to feel blank and tranquil. It’s in this state that we begin to observe our thoughts and emotions in the third person.
Studies on meditation have been done all over the world. One of the most significant in recent years was some of the research done by Dr. Richard Gevirtz .
This research looked at a large group of meditation experts like yogis and monks from all over the world. It measured their vital signs during the process to identify any changes in the nervous system.
What Dr. Richard Gevirtz and his team found was that no matter what rituals came along with the meditation, the outcome was always the same.
What all of his test subjects had in common was regular, controlled, slow breathing.
He used special heart sensors to measure the heart rate variability of these subjects. This measurement is used as a metric for sympathetic vs parasympathetic nervous system control.
What he found was that all of his subjects that were able to reach a state of meditation were able to exert controlling influence over this system.
It’s easy to forget that humans came from the wild just like every other animal on earth.
We hide behind our technology and forget to acknowledge the biological underpinnings that evolved to keep us healthy.
Daniel Vitalis from the Rewild Yourself Podcast is very outspoken about this topic. He believes this to be one of the reasons humanity has become so plagued with chronic illness. Daniel suggests the solution to this problem is by taking measures to “rewild ourselves”. This essentially involves resetting ourselves periodically by reinvigorating our wild nature.
Some of the ideas biohackers are using to support this idea include:
Unlike plants, our biology evolved to allow us to eat other forms of life. Whether this is a freshly killed gazelle or a lump of kelp, our bodies require organic tissue to obtain our nutrients.
Humans evolved breathing freshly recycled air from the forests and grasslands around us. In modern times we consume substantially more volatile chemicals in our air. Everything from air fresheners, to petroleum byproducts like hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide.
Sunlight is the original nutritional supplement.
Researchers have recently discovered that our early evolutionary predecessors in the world’s oceans have been producing vitamin D from sun exposure for over 500 million years .
Humans still rely on sunlight for vitamin D production. This vitamin acts a lot like a hormone, helping us regulate our blood pressure and calcium levels.
It only takes as little as 6-15 minutes of sun exposure each day to reach our daily vitamin D requirements. Try going spending some time outside on your next lunch break to soak up some of that vitamin sunshine.
Hack with Natural Supplements & Herbs
The whole purpose of biohacking is to optimize the functionality of the human body. This often involves making slight adjustments or tweaks to a certain part of our physiology.
There is nothing better at making these “tweaks” or adjustments as herbs and supplements.
Anybody familiar with Aristotle is aware that his definition of virtue is a mean between extremes.
This can be applied to biohacking as well. Consider the fact that optimal health is a balance between extremes. It’s the middle ground between excess and deficiency.
For example, liver metabolism can be excessive, causing issues with cholesterol or fat metabolism. Deficient liver processes can also result in issues like anemia and metabolic buildup.
Biohacking aims to acknowledge these changes while they are subtle. Using herbs and supplements we can push it closer to the median where the best health of that organ is. This is what biohacking is at its core.
The world of herbs and supplements is very large and can be difficult to navigate. What most biohackers do is determine where their weaknesses lie. Then they determine whether they tend to fall into a state of either deficiency or excess.
It’s from these observations that a biohacker can determine the best herbs and supplements to keep on hand. These herbs are used to exert subtle changes in physiology to maintain this median.
One of the main areas of interest in terms of herbs for biohacking is a class known as adaptogens . This class of substances is unique in that they can improve the body’s overall ability to defend against stress.
More on adaptogens in number 6.
One of the most common issues in the modern world is insufficient sleep and high stress. It affects how we think and behave, and hinders our ability to perform our best. Kratom is the biohackers tool for getting a better night’s sleep and reducing the negative effects on stress.
The leaves of the kratom tree found growing in Indonesia, have anxiolytic, relaxant, and mild sedative effects. It’s used in the biohacker community for stress-related conditions and to help us relax.
Marijuana is an incredibly useful plant for the biohacker. Each leaf contains a slurry of chemicals known as cannabinoids each with its own set of benefits.
CBD , for example, one of the most abundant cannabinoids in the plant, works off the body’s internal endocannabinoid system. This system has been found to be an important regulator of the brain, immune, and endocrine systems .
This allows CBD to offer modulating effects on the system in a similar way adaptogens do on our stress response.
Kava is one of the best herbal supplements available for performing under pressure. It’s used as a supplement before stressful meetings, public speaking events, or other stressful work or life events.
The muscle relaxant activity of kava works well in combination with its other effects. Kava is also neuroprotective, anxiolytic, and mildly nootropic. Together this helps us maintain a clear, calm focus.
As a biohacker, the goal is to perform optimally. This is why many biohackers choose to keep this herbal supplement nearby when they need to perform in high-pressure scenarios.
Showing gratitude is one of the most underrated practices in the modern world.
Think about it, most of the things that stand out in our day are the negative ones. People that were rude to us, coffee that wasn’t made properly, the meal that took too long to arrive. These are all common complaints that virtually all of us are guilty of.
We carry these feelings of negativity into other areas of our life, allowing them to affect the outcome of our successes both large and small.
Consider a time when you may have showed up to work feeling pretty good, only to run into a colleague who had nothing but complaints about their day. This mood tends to be contagious, causing us to feel upset and unmotivated to perform.
By culturing gratitude this is no longer the case. It gives us the tools to avoid these negative mindsets and allows us to optimize our efforts by keeping our motivations high.
The idea behind practicing gratitude is to cultivate a general state of appreciation. This allows us to default our thought process to a positive one rather than a negative one.
A gratitude journal is a fast and simple technique to remind yourself on a regular basis to show gratitude.
When we write things down we allow them to become tangible. It allows us to form a routine of positive thinking.
Getting started is easy. You can download apps like Grateful or 365 Gratitude Journal for an all-in-one app. You can also purchase a notebook with pre-made gratitude prompts like the Dailygreatness Journal . Another simple method is to start your own in a blank notebook.
In order to do this, simply set aside 5 minutes per day, either in the morning, at lunch, or before bed, and write down 3 to 5 things you were grateful for that day. That’s it!
Stoicism is a philosophical concept. It promotes a physical and emotional endurance of pain or hardship without feelings of discomfort. It involves the idea that all feelings of discomfort, including stress, are only present in the mind of the beholder.
When something happens that causes us discomfort, stoicism offers an explanation. It suggests that it’s our mind’s perception of the problem that allows it to feel that way, not the situation itself.
Stoics take this into practice by actively depriving themselves of pleasures from time to time to remind them not to be taken for granted. Sleeping on the floor one night without a blanket will certainly remind you how much you appreciate your warm bed.
Become Resistant to Stress with Controlled Stress Exposure
In order to tackle this concept, it’s important to define exactly what stress is.
Stress is any force that pushes our bodies’ carefully balanced systems out of balance. In most cases, we can respond and resist this stress in order to keep homeostasis (balance) within our bodies.
For example, a sudden change in temperature causes our bodies to shift in order to maintain the 37C internal temperature.
This would be considered a form of stress.
In most cases, our body is able to manage this stress and resist it.
Our body responds to stress by:
- Dilating our blood vessels to bring warm blood to the surface of the skin.
- Increasing the heart rate to accommodate the extra force needed to move blood into the capillaries.
- Increasing our metabolism to generate more energy in the form of glucose.
It‘s when we can no longer maintain resistance to this stress that our body begins to shut down. Heat stroke and hypothermia are the results of this form of stress when we are no longer able to maintain resistance.
- Changes in the environment (temperature, humidity)
- Emotional reactions (sad, angry, frustrated, etc)
- Physical exertion (exercise)
- Trauma (accidents, animal attacks, etc)
- Biochemical stress (toxin intake, medication side effects, metabolic toxins)
Increasing stress resistance isn’t as complicated as it sounds. It basically means that your body has the ability to respond to changes in the environment faster and to a greater degree. It means that you can endure both physical and emotional stress for longer. As well as avoid the deleterious effects stress has on the body more effectively.
One of the main principles to consider in terms of improving our stress resistance is the concept of hormesis or “mild stress simulation”.
This is an older technique stemming from a number of different, unrelated cultures all over the world.
The idea that anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger could be applied to this example.
Hormesis involves low-dose, frequent exposure to chemical or environmental stresses. This exposure triggers the body’s adaptive response system. Triggering this system with low doses leads to increased resistance over time .
This sounds complicated but in reality, it is quite simple.
A good example of hormesis is exercise. When we exercise we put our body through a stressful situation causing microscopic tearing of our muscle fibers. Our body then responds by building these muscles up stronger to avoid damage the next time. Once healed, we repeat the process, eventually becoming stronger than we started.
Hormesis can be applied like this to other systems as well including:
- The Brain through the use of Heat Shock Proteins (HSP) involving hot or cold therapies .
- Our homeostasis regulatory center (HPA axis) with the use of adaptogenic herbs and substances.
- Metabolism through the use of restriction diets like the ketogenic diet.
It’s easy to see why the concept of biohacking has taken off so much in recent years. This is especially true with the current rate of development in the field of biological sciences. With so much new and useful information on the human body, we’re finding more ways to optimise it and control it to suit our needs much better.
Biohacking isn’t a small topic, and there are in fact huge communities of people around the world dedicated to this new and upcoming field.
- Hallman, D. M., Boerwinkle, E., Saha, N., Sandholzer, C., Menzel, H. J., Csazar, A., & Utermann, G. (1991). The apolipoprotein E polymorphism: a comparison of allele frequencies and effects in nine populations. American journal of human genetics, 49(2), 338.
- Xu, K., Sun, X., Eroku, B. O., Tsipis, C. P., Puchowicz, M. A., & LaManna, J. C. (2010). Diet-induced ketosis improves cognitive performance in aged rats. In Oxygen Transport to Tissue XXXI (pp. 71-75). Springer, Boston, MA.
- Davidson, T. L., Hargrave, S. L., Swithers, S. E., Sample, C. H., Fu, X., Kinzig, K. P., & Zheng, W. (2013). Inter-relationships among diet, obesity and hippocampal-dependent cognitive function. Neuroscience, 253, 110-122.
- Mattson, M. P. (2008). Hormesis defined. Ageing research reviews, 7(1), 1-7.
- Dattilo, S., Mancuso, C., Koverech, G., Di Mauro, P., Ontario, M. L., Petralia, C. C., … & Calabrese, V. (2015). Heat shock proteins and hormesis in the diagnosis and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Immunity & Ageing, 12(1), 20.
- Murray, A. J., Knight, N. S., Cole, M. A., Cochlin, L. E., Carter, E., Tchabanenko, K., … & Deacon, R. M. (2016). Novel ketone diet enhances physical and cognitive performance. The FASEB Journal, 30(12), 4021-4032.
- Lehrer, P. M., & Gevirtz, R. (2014). Heart rate variability biofeedback: how and why does it work?. Frontiers in psychology, 5, 756.
- Storoni, M., & Plant, G. T. (2015). The therapeutic potential of the ketogenic diet in treating progressive multiple sclerosis. Multiple sclerosis international, 2015.
- Turner, D. C., Robbins, T. W., Clark, L., Aron, A. R., Dowson, J., & Sahakian, B. J. (2003). Cognitive enhancing effects of modafinil in healthy volunteers. Psychopharmacology, 165(3), 260-269.
- Holick, M. F. (2004). Sunlight and vitamin D for bone health and prevention of autoimmune diseases, cancers, and cardiovascular disease. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 80(6), 1678S-1688S.
- Komorowski, J., & Stepień, H. (2007). The role of the endocannabinoid system in the regulation of endocrine function and in the control of energy balance in humans. Postępy Higieny I Medycyny Doświadczalnej (Online), 61, 99-105.
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What Is Biohacking: A Beginner’s Guide
Published: January 2023
By: Jessica Monge, Health & Wellness Writer
It sounds like stuff that you'd read about in a science fiction novel: a microchip implant that opens the door for you; enduring freezing temperatures to improve your health (aka cryotherapy); using special, near-infrared light to heal a wound. Yet there's nothing fictional about it: these are all examples of " biohacking ," and as futuristic as they may sound, the idea of hacking one's biology (or DIY biology) for improved health has been around for decades. Indeed, biohacking is only gaining momentum; nowadays, more people than ever are using tactics to optimize their health.
Why is biohacking so buzzworthy? More of us are looking for ways to live our best lives—whether that's by improving physical performance, cognitive function , energy levels, or immune health—or, ultimately, finding hacks to live longer. In fact, you yourself may be a biohacker…many of us are! If you wear a smart watch to monitor (and then tweak) your sleep patterns, or follow a special diet to influence your biology, you're as much of a biohacker as someone who uses special lighting to heal.
Unfortunately, however, not every biohacking approach has solid scientific evidence confirming its efficacy; the jury is out on the health benefits of extreme hacks like gene modification, for example. Intermittent fasting is another hacking technique that has been hotly debated.
Since the buzz on biohacking keeps growing, along with a plethora of contradictory information, we wanted to provide you with everything you need to know about hacking your own biology. Plus, we're sharing 10 biohacks you can easily add to your wellness journey which do have plenty of scientific literature proving their benefits.
What is biohacking?
The term biohacking can refer to a wide range of tactics, depending upon where you're reading or hearing about it. At a high level, though, we can think of biohacking as an approach or practice that aims to change internal and external conditions to augment wellness and performance. As we mentioned previously, this can involve everything from cutting edge technology to changing the timing of when you eat or sleep.
But the technology and lifestyle tweaks are only part of the equation; analyzing data and then making adjustments to your biohacking tactics accordingly is a key part of the process. One thing that's pretty universal about biohacking is that it requires a lot of data collection and analysis.
Most popular types of biohacking
In the pursuit of self-improvement, biohackers do a lot of self-experimentation, using science and technology to alter and optimize their bodies and overall health. These practices can include:
Intermittent fasting, implant technology, nutrigenomics, lifestyle changes, other hacks, benefits of biohacking.
When you choose to biohack, you're changing the chemistry and physiology of your body. You'll break old patterns and help your body unwind from demanding deadlines, loud teenagers, and rising prices by making time to meditate, spend time in nature, and choose foods that replenish the nutrients your body needs to function optimally.
Of course, the benefits of biohacking really depend on the type of biohacking we're talking about! Much research is needed to confirm the health benefits many biohackers claim from experimenting with bio hacks like cryotherapy, red light therapy, or intermittent fasting. But there's growing scientific evidence supporting the health-improving benefits of biohacks like strategic nutritional plans, tracking exercise patterns, and techniques such as meditation and yoga and how they help enhance cognition, heart health and physical performance.
Is biohacking safe?
It depends on the biohacking method. Lifestyle and nutritional changes, along with wearable technology, are low-risk endeavors that have been scientifically validated as beneficial. As we said earlier, many of the health benefits claimed by trending biohacking practices like cryotherapy and red-light therapy have yet to be scientifically validated. You'll always want to do a cost-benefit analysis before endeavoring anything invasive or expensive!
How to start biohacking: 10 strategies for beginners
Now that you understand biohacking a little bit better, let's go over science-based biohacks you can do daily (and from the comfort of your own home). Pro tip: Let your body be the ultimate guide. Pay close attention to how you feel as you incorporate biohacks from this list.
1. Track your resting heart rate & heart rate variability
Biohackers who aim to manage stress levels and improve sleep, digestion, concentration and vitality focus on increasing their heart rate variability (HRV). Why? A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that a higher HRV reflects a more robust ability to adapt to change and stress-related physical and psychological disorders. To track this information, you'll need to note two different data points:
Resting heart rate (RHR)
Heart rate variability (hrv).
You can use heart rate monitors, apps, phones and other technology to track these metrics. Measure this data for six weeks and discuss your results with your healthcare provider—depending on your goals and the trends you reveal, he or she may prescribe more high-tech ways of capturing these metrics, as well as therapies or treatments to improve your HRV. Pro tip: Regular exercise is the best way to increase your HRV. Don't overdo it, though! Overtraining can lower your heart rate variability.
2. Resist insulin resistance
Managing your glucose levels has gained attention over the years. But why? Your body uses glucose as an instant energy source, so glucose per se isn't the problem. The problem starts when we consume too much glucose (processed sugars and carbohydrates), causing levels to increase significantly in the blood. These glucose or sugar spikes are associated with several health concerns like mood imbalances, cognitive decline, heart disease and much more; it also contributes to glycation, which can accelerate the aging process. When left unmanaged, unbalanced glucose levels can result in insulin resistance and diabetes .
For these reasons, biohackers keep close tabs on their glucose levels with the goal of maintaining healthy insulin resistance (the body's ability to respond to insulin and process sugars). The most accurate way to do this is to use a glucose monitor, but you can still help your body manage glucose spikes without one. Pro tip: If you do have a glucose monitor, measure your glucose on an empty stomach, after a meal and then at a later interval and note which foods cause the biggest sugar spikes—then avoid eating them frequently in the future.
Learn more about Nutritional Neurohacking
Aside from diet changes, here are two other simple tips to try:
- Get acetic acid, aka vinegar: Some scientific evidence suggests that consuming vinegar (be it white, rice or apple cider vinegar) before your meal—drizzle it over your salad or add a tablespoon to a tall glass of water—can help reduce the glucose spike by reducing how much glucose enters the small intestine and your bloodstream.
- Get moving: Another way to reduce glucose levels is by using your muscles after meals, especially after that second serving of dessert. Your skeletal muscles , the ones you can move voluntarily (arms, legs, core), use about 80 percent of the glucose you get from your food. Developing the habit of moving after your meals can help reduce the sugar spike because instead of circulating in your blood (and landing in your liver where it's stored as fat), your muscles use glucose for energy. Whether it's a quick high-intensity workout or a brisk walk with your pooch, doing the dishes or dancing salsa—all-body movement counts!
3. Take cold showers
Starting your days with a cold shower is invigorating, and it can be an effective way to kick your noggin into gear before your morning cup of joe. Research suggests that cold bathing can have multiple health benefits, including shoring up your natural defenses, improving circulation, promoting healthy inflammation, helping with muscle recovery and even supporting mental health. Pro tip: Start (or end your shower) with cold water for 30 seconds, and slowly progress to longer periods of cold showers.
4. Optimize sleep quality
Everyone wants a good night's sleep, but for biohackers, getting better shut-eye is of particular importance: sleep is neuroprotective , meaning getting quality ZZZs can enhance cognition and energy levels, prevent cognitive decline and more. When your goal is boosting cognitive health while you snooze, what matters most is uninterrupted sleep —even more so than the number of hours.
So how do you improve sleep quality? Try these tips:
DON'T ignore what's going on outside your window
Do make your bedroom dark, do lower the temperature at night, don't eat before bed, 5. change your diet, change your health.
As we mentioned, nutrigenomics involves strategically consuming foods and nutritional extracts to enhance your health. The idea comes from the relationship between nutrients, diet and gene expression. For example, eating anti-inflammatory foods like leafy greens, grass-fed protein, spices like curcumin, healthy fats like omega-3s found in nuts, seeds and fatty fish can manage inflammation , significantly improving overall health, not to mention quality of life.
Not sure where to start? Add these nutrients and enjoy the benefits:
Pro tip: For a full list of brain-friendly foods and hacks, check out Life Extension's protocol about Nutritional Neurohacking .
Does biohacking include avoiding certain foods?
Absolutely! You may know it as the elimination diet, which biohackers use not to rule out allergies per se, but to strategically limit or eliminate foods that negatively impact their health. Start by limiting highly processed foods like deli meat, fast food, sweets and baked goods. Avoid products with high cholesterol, saturated fats, preservatives and added sugars or flavors.
6. Body movement
Ok, this one is a no-brainer. Aerobic exercises and resistance training, the kind that get you breathing and sweating heavily, are arguably the best ways to hack your biology—you get everything from better body goals to a cognitive boost and even enhancing longevity.
Here are a few tips to help you get started.
- Include strength and mobility: These exercises encourage a full range of motion for joints and extremities while strengthening different muscle groups.
- Put in the time : Find 45 to 60 minutes a day, at least five days a week, to reap the health-promoting benefits of exercise. Pro tip: Don't get discouraged by time. Even if you only have 10 to 15 minutes a day, show up to your mat and get the ball rolling. As you get used to adding movement to your day, you'll naturally progress to a longer and more efficient exercise routine.
- Choose activities you enjoy: Whether you choose to get your 10K steps in with a good old-fashioned walk or prefer to get your fitness on by dancing, kickboxing or speed skating, regular motion is a must!
7. Keep a gratitude journal
Yes, this one may not seem on the surface to be true biohacking. But hear us out: emerging scientific evidence suggests that there's something to making time each day to jot down grateful thoughts. How? Simply put, a gratitude journal helps you tap into your neurobiology and improve neuroplasticity, your brain's ability to strengthen and rewire neural connections based on what you experience. In other words, by focusing your awareness on things you are grateful for, you're conditioning your brain to find the silver lining even in the darkest of moments—you improve your mental resilience to external factors that could cause you anxiety, stress and frustration.
Meditation can be defined as the practice of centering the body in the present moment by calming the mind and practicing stillness. Research shows meditation has physical and psychological benefits like reducing stress and anxiety, encouraging heart health, reducing inflammation, improving mood and beyond. There are several free apps and YouTube videos with guided meditations that can help you get started on committing to this practice. Pro tip: Set a daily alarm for a time of day when you take five minutes (you can even start with one minute!) to stop, breathe and appreciate your present moment.
9. Spend time in nature
Studies suggest that spending time in nature has both physical and cognitive benefits . As humans, we need to connect with nature, feel the wind play with our hair, feel the crystal tranquility of water wash over us, hear birds chirping, and breath fresh air. There's a reason nature has revitalizing effects!
Make regular short breaks to walk outside, enjoying the trees and open skies. If you live in a city or an area that's not close to nature, make time for weekend getaways to national reserves or go to city parks.
10. Get those hormones in balance
Your hormones are chemical messengers that relay messages to your brain and body. They influence health, mood, digestion, immunity, libido, fertility and more. In other words, healthy hormone levels guide your body to homeostasis or a state of equilibrium. Regular blood testing that measures different hormone levels is a terrific way to understand what's happening "behind the scenes" of your own biology. Knowing where your hormone levels is like having a blueprint of your metabolic and physiological health, and it helps you address changes you can make to improve overall health. Pro tip: Life Extension offers an extensive array of Lab Tests . You can test for specific hormones, body composition, blood glucose levels, cholesterol levels, food sensitivity and more!
Hack your way to a healthier you
If all of these ideas sound overwhelming, there's no need to do them all at once. Start by choosing one or two suggestions from the list below and commit to your practice for six months. As you progress and they become daily habits (you know, the little things you do daily), it'll be easier to add to your practice. But don't be harsh with yourself if you feel it's "easier said than done." We're creatures of habit, so it's not easy to make changes once we're used to a routine. And change can be overwhelming; it takes patience, consistency, and time. It takes work to build a new lifestyle.
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- Basso, C. Julia, et. al. "Brief, Daily Meditation Enhances Attention, Memory, Mood, and emotional Regulation in Non-Experienced Mediators." https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30153464/
- Berryhill, Sarah, et. al. "Effect of Wearables on Sleep in Healthy Individuals: A Randomized Crossover Trial and Validation Study." J Clin Sleep Med . May 2020. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32043961/
- Buijze, Geert, et. al. "The Effect of Cold Showering on Health and Work: A Randomized Controlled Trial." PLoS One . 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5025014/
- Chen, S, et. al. "Effects of Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback on Cardiovascular Responses and Autonomic Sympathovagal Modulations Following Stressors Tasks in Prehypertensives." February 2016. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25924910/
- Eugene, R. Andy and Jolanta Masiak. "The Neuroprotective Aspect of Sleep." Medtube Sci . March 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4651462/
- Fox, Glenn, et. al. "Neural Correlates of Gratitude." Frontiers in Psychology . September 2015. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01491/full
- Gangadharbatla, Harsha. "biohacking: An Exploratory Study to Understand the Factors Influencing the Adoption of Embedded Technologies Within the Human Body." https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7226663/
- Hanley, P. Brian, et. al. "Review of Scientific Self-Experimentation: Ethics, History, Regulation, Scenarios, and Views Among Ethics Committees and Prominent Scientists." Rejuvenation Research . February 2019. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/rej.2018.2059
- Jansky, L, et. al. "Immune System of Cold-Exposed and Cold-Adapted Humans." Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol . 1996. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8925815/
- Marr, Bernard. "What's Biohacking? All You Need to Know About the Latest Health Craze." Forbes . https://www.forbes.com/sites/bernardmarr/2021/02/26/whats-biohacking-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-latest-health-craze/?sh=2e0f6e055d76
- Merz, E. Karla, et. al. "Role of Skeletal Muscle in Insulin Resistance and Glucose Uptake." Compr Physiolo . July 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8074531
- Mitrou, Panayota, et. al. "Vinegar Consumption Increases Insulin-Stimulated Glucose Uptake by the Forearm Muscle in Humans with Type 2 Diabetes." J Diabetes Res . May 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4438142/
- Mizuno-Okamoto, Kazue and Koh Mizuno. "Effects of Thermal Environment on sleep and Circadian Rhythm." J Physiol Anthropol . May 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3427038/
- Sauer, Mary. "What Is Heart Rate Variability? How to Measure HRV and What It Means." Insider . March 2020. https://www.insider.com/guides/health/conditions-symptoms/what-is-heart-rate-variability
- Singh, Nikhil, et. al. "Heart Rate Variabilty: An Old Metric with New Meaning in the Era of Using mHealth Technologies for Health and Exercise Training Guidance. Part One: Physiology and Methods." Arrhythm Electrophysiol Res . August 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6141929/
- Weir, Kirsten. "Natured by nature." American Psychology Association . April 2020. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2020/04/nurtured-nature
- Young, A. Hayley and David Benton. "Heart-Rate Variability: A Biomarker to Study the Influence of Nutrition on Physiological and Psychological Health?" Behav Pharmacol . April 2018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5882295/
- "Biohacking." Merriam-Webster Dictionary. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/biohacking
- "Heart Rate Variability: How It Might Indicate Well-Being." Harvard Medical School. December 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/heart-rate-variability-new-way-track-well-2017112212789
- "How to Make Working Out Fun." Tony Robbins. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/achieve-lasting-weight-loss/how-to-enjoy-working-out/
- "Meditation Techniques for the Mind, Body and Emotions." Tony Robbins. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/how-to-focus/meditation-techniques-exercises/
- "Nature and Mental Health. How Can Nature Benefit My Mental Health?" Mind.org. https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/nature-and-mental-health/how-nature-benefits-mental-health/
- "Physical Activity Boosts Brain Health." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/physical-activity-brain-health/index.html
- "The Microchip Implants That Let You Pay with Your Hand." BBC News. April 2022. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-61008730
- "The 10-Day Health Challenge." Tony Robbins. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/health-vitality/the-10-day-pure-energy-challenge/
- "Technology that Matters: 3 Advancements that Will Impact Humanity in a Big Way." Tony Robbins. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/leadership-impact/technology-that-matters/
- "What Do I Need to Do to Get the Healthy Mind and Body I Want? Tony Robbins. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/ask-tony/the-body-you-want/
- "What Is Biohacking and Where Do Supplements Fit In? Tru Niagen. https://www.truniagen.com/blog/science-101/what-is-biohacking-and-where-do-supplements-fit-in/
- "What Is Biohacking? Everything You Need to Know About Biohacking Your Body." Tony Robbins. https://www.tonyrobbins.com/health-vitality/biohacking-for-beginners/
Jessica Monge has a bachelor's degree in biological sciences & neuroscience and a master's degree in comparative studies and related languages from Florida Atlantic University. She worked as a tutor, freelance writer and editor before joining Life Extension, where she is currently a Digital Content Writer.
Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD
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The Ultimate Biohacking Guide: 23 Ways to Hack Your Biological Age
- April 14, 2023
If you could achieve peak performance and unleash the greatest version of yourself, would you? Biohacking promises just that—it gives you control over your own biology to work smarter and live longer.
From high-tech gadgets to ancient practices, here’s your ultimate biohacking guide by the world’s leading biohackers, Ben Greenfield and Dave Asprey (they’re also Mindvalley’s trainers of The Longevity Blueprint and Smarter Not Harder Quests, respectively).
Whether you’re looking into biohacking for beginners or you’re a seasoned biohackers, taking simple steps, such as a cold shower in the morning, can be just what you need to optimize your mind, body, and spirit.
What Is Biohacking?
Simply put, “biohacking” definition is the conscious control of your external environment to enrich your physical and mental health. It involves monitoring what you eat, hear, see, touch, and smell to guide the external stimuli around you toward a better, healthier version of yourself.
As Dave Asprey puts it, “ Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so you have full control of your own biology .”
It implies affecting the biology of your physical body holistically, treating it as a whole system—the body, the mind, and the spirit.
Adding to that idea, Ben explains that biohacking becomes even more powerful when it’s tailored to each person’s unique biology, lifestyle, and goals.
What Are the Benefits of Biohacking?
If biohacking is known for one thing, it’s this: it optimizes various biological processes in the body. And you can be very meticulous about it by targeting specific biomarkers, such as heart rate variability, blood glucose levels, and sleep quality.
Here are just a few benefits of biohacking:
- Better mood. There’s a direct relationship between sleep quality and mood . By optimizing your sleep quality, you can improve your mood, cognitive function, and physical performance.
- Improved metabolic health. By personalizing your nutrition, you can improve your metabolic health , lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reach your ideal weight.
- Increased lifespan. Intermittent fasting, for example, can positively impact cellular aging, prevent chronic disease, and extend your lifespan, according to science .
Think of it as DIY-ing your biology using biohacking. And by doing so, you can greatly improve your health and performance.
Is Biohacking Safe?
Biohacking methods, in general, are safe. For example:
- Making dietary adjustments and improving your sleep are safe practices.
- Intermittent fasting has been well-researched and isn’t dangerous when done properly.
It has gotten a bad rap at times, with some biohackers experimenting with unregulated, unapproved, or untested nootropics or experimental drugs.
Trying those examples of biohacking without consulting a medical professional may be dangerous. The same goes for using electronic or mechanical devices such as implanted magnets or electronic implants.
The bottom line is that biohacking shouldn’t be prioritized over your fundamental health. So always remember: safety first.
Does It Work?
It depends on the biohack and the person. Some biohacking techniques do have a strong scientific foundation, while others are still being thoroughly researched.
But it’s crucial to exercise caution and resist the urge to adopt every fad that appears. Figuring out what suits you and your unique body the best is key when it comes to biohacking your biology.
Here are six popular biohacks you can try and the state of the science surrounding them:
Sleep is the best medicine, as nothing can compare to its restorative power. When you get enough rest at night, you boost your immunity, strengthen your heart, and end up feeling better and less stressed. It even makes you smarter and slimmer.
That’s why biohackers have grown to love wearable technology like the Whoop, Oura Ring, FitBit, Apple Watch, and Garmin wearables. Some of these gadgets can even link with other apps to provide input on how to improve your sleep.
These devices can measure sleep data, including duration and REM sleep, so you can optimize your sleep.
2. Intermittent fasting
Although intermittent fasting is one of the most popular biohacking methods, it is proven to do wonders for your overall health and performance.
According to multiple studies, it improves oxidative stress and inflammation markers, blood pressure, hunger, body weight, and cholesterol levels.
The best part is that there are many protocols that can fit any lifestyle.
3. Cold therapy
This biohack entails exposing your body to cold conditions, whether through ice baths, cold showers, or cryotherapy.
Studies show that exposure to the cold strengthens the immune system. What’s interesting is that cold therapy makes you more receptive to dopamine.
So getting cold for three to five minutes a day will make you feel happier and more energized, as per Dave’s recommendation.
Meditation is one habit that all top performers have. And science has shown that this ancient practice reduces blood pressure, helps manage daily stress and anxiety, and makes you laser-focused.
The best part is that you can meditate just as you are—without any prior training or experience.
From athletic performance to cognitive function, there are a few supplements that biohackers swear by:
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC). It’s made from L-carnitine in the body and helps the body turn fat into energy.
- Krill oil (EPA/DHA). It comes from a tiny, shrimp-like marine animal, and is rich in inflammation-fighting omega-3 fats.
- MCT oil. It stands for medium-chain triglycerides and is a type of fat found in oils, such as coconut and palm oil. It helps boosts energy and metabolism, as well as balance blood sugar.
These are well-researched and natural, and they are all used and recommended by Dave.
Short for high-intensity interval training, this practice involves completing repeated bouts of intense activity followed by low-intensity exercise or periods of rest with varying recovery durations.
HIIT can enhance cardiovascular health, boost endurance, and possibly aid in weight loss, according to multiple studies .
The Different Types of Biohacking
Biohacking differs depending on its purpose and method. Here are a few illustrations:
- Nutrigenomics. In this field, genetic testing is used to determine how particular nutrients affect your genes, and the results are then used to optimize your diet and supplement program.
- Wearable technology. It ’ s a term for gadgets like fitness trackers and smartwatches that help you track your health-related activities.
- Nootropics. It’s an umbrella term for supplements that claim to make you smarter. Some of them are proven to enhance your memory and concentration, as well as boost creativity.
- Cold therapy. It can be cryotherapy, cold showers, ice baths, or other methods of exposing your body to cold temperatures.
- Mindfulness and meditation . This type entails employing methods like breathwork, visualization, and meditation to lower stress, sharpen attention, and enhance general well-being.
- Physical training. This type utilizes exercise and physical activity to get you stronger, more flexible, and toned. With or without biohacking movement, exercising regularly is proven to be paramount for your ultimate health.
- Sleep optimization . It includes using sleep trackers, blue light-blocking glasses, white noise devices, and sleep-inducing pillows to make you sleep like a baby.
Biohacking is a journey. Whatever type you choose, in this case, playing safe is prescribed.
Biohacking Guide for Optimizing Your Mind
In today’s fast-paced world, biohacking can be a powerful tool to optimize your mental capacity for better focus, a sharper memory, and greater productivity. Here are some proven ways to do so for your mind:
1. Balance your neurotransmitters
Just as you keep all the fluids in your car engine in balance, it’s important to keep your neurotransmitters—dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and acetylcholine—in balance for an optimally functioning brain.
How you can do it:
- Add 100 mg of theanine to your coffee. Theanine makes coffee kinder. It helps keep the drink from giving you those dreaded jitters and afternoon energy crashes while keeping your neurotransmitters in balance. An Ayurvedic herb, tulsi, works this same magic.
- Read Dirty Genes by Dr. Ben Lynch . Not only does this book help you identify any “dirty genes” (or below-optimal genetic factors) you may have, but it also helps you clean up those dirty genes by guiding you on what supplements to take, what to eat, and more.
- Take the Braverman Personality Type Assessment. This assessment helps you figure out what your neurotransmitter dominance is. Then, you can alter your diet and lifestyle choices based on your test results to create balance.
2. Fix a leaky brain
Your blood-brain barrier works to keep toxins and harmful chemicals out of your brain. By keeping this barrier healthy, you increase your ability to operate neurologically.
Cold exposure is a great way to improve the permeability of your blood-brain barrier. The trick here, though, is to get your head cold. While it is initially shocking, the effects are instantly noticeable.
Not only does cold exposure restore health to this all-important barrier, but it also boosts your immune system, zaps brown fat cells, increases cellular longevity, and more.
How you can do it:
- Take a cold shower. While any cold shower will do, Ben suggests following Ray Cronise’s 5-Minute Hot-Cold Contrast Shower method. Simply, stand completely under cold water for 20 seconds. Then, turn the water hot for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times, and you have yourself a blood-brain barrier that is healthy and sound (plus, an instantaneous and exciting amount of energy).
- Try a cryotherapy chamber. If you want to get really serious about cold therapy, get yourself into a cryotherapy chamber. It’s approved by Dave and proven by science to give you numerous health benefits .
3. Try these two breathwork methods
Breathwork, combined with a smart exercise routine, can help you reduce stress, shed extra pounds, and improve your well-being.
- Practice the Buteyko Breathing Method . Many popular breathing techniques hype the power of taking in huge amounts of oxygen, but what about our unsung hero, carbon dioxide? In the case of longevity, you want a high concentration of carbon dioxide alongside a high level of oxygen in your system. This is because a high concentration of carbon dioxide actually works to push oxygen into your tissues—this is called the Bohr Effect. Buteyko breathing teaches you how to retain a lot of carbon dioxide and thus utilize a lot more oxygen.
- Breath in for four seconds,
- Hold your breath in for four seconds,
- Breath out for four seconds,
- Hold your breath out for four seconds, and
- Repeat the cycle.
Once you gain more control over your breath, you can increase the time you hold.
Learn more: Reaching the Peak Human Experience With Breathwork
4. Eat yourself smart
Sometimes, becoming smarter can be as simple as eating the right things. What is a biohacking diet? One of them is The Bulletproof Diet, created by Dave to rewire your brain to be more efficient.
Dave explains that this diet is the richest in healthy fats that help your brain function efficiently while also targeting and lowering inflammation in the body and supporting fat loss.
The best part about it is that it’s not a diet but rather an alteration of what you eat: you add nutrient-dense foods and avoid foods that cause havoc in the body.
- Eat more Green Zone foods , such as grass-fed meats, wild-caught seafood, organic vegetables, low-sugar fruits, avocado and coconut oil, raw nuts, and seeds.
- Consume in moderation Yellow Zone foods , such as berries, grass-fed butter and ghee, and gluten-free grains like quinoa and rice.
- Avoid Red Zone foods whenever possible, such as processed foods, sugar, grains with gluten, vegetable oils, and most legumes.
Simply put, you want to make Green Zone foods the foundation of your diet for optimal health and cognitive function.
Learn more: Biohacker Dave Asprey’s Top 9 Tips on How to Work Smarter and Think Faster
5. Live like Limitless and Lucy
Perhaps you’ve heard the buzz about nootropics. Nootropics work to protect and enhance the cognitive functions of your brain—basically, they are superhero serums.
- Microdose nicotine. It’s the chemicals in cigarettes and the act of smoking that causes extreme damage. Actually, the nicotine itself does wonders for your brain power. Ben suggests either chewing on a nicotine toothpick or putting organic snus (a smokeless oral tobacco) under your lip while you work to give your brain a boost.
- Microdose LSD. Studies show that microdosing LSD (10–20 micrograms) won’t give you the commonly known psychedelic effect and is safe. Instead, it will marry the left and right hemispheres of your brain, increasing both your analytical thinking and creativity simultaneously.
- Take Celastrus paniculatus . Also known as the “Intellect Tree,” Celastrus paniculatus greatly enhances both memory and comprehension. You can find this added to many nootropic blends, such as Qualia Mind .
6. Upgrade your brain
Your brain is one of the most hardworking organs in your body. So it only seems fair to learn how to biohack it so that it’s constantly running on the latest operating systems, per se.
There are the latest technologies you can use to upgrade and optimize your brain power.
- Regulate your circadian rhythm. Since we have yet to figure out how to control the sun, science has invented some cutting-edge phototherapy devices to mimic the sun’s light. These devices help keep you in tune with your circadian rhythm, promote wakefulness, beat jet lag, and enhance cognitive function. One of them is light-spectrum glasses or an in-ear light device called the HumanCharger , which both give off this wakeful, green-blue light spectrum of the sun.
- Charge your cells. PEMF, or pulsed electromagnetic field, technology is a bit bizarre but totally fascinating. Basically, it directs electricity into your cells to promote healing or to wake up and enhance the mind. It’s like exercising and charging your cells. One of the options is a portable PEMF device called FlexPulse , which allows you to change the hertz frequency in order to induce different desired effects—for example, you can set it to 3 Hz for relaxation, 10 Hz for focus, or even direct 100 Hz on a muscle (or area) that needs healing.
- Get more oxygen to your brain. You can do this effectively by combining hypoxic (low levels of oxygen) and hyperoxic (high levels of oxygen) training. Two devices Ben recommends using for this type of oxygenation are LiveO2 and training masks.
7. Train for speed
Your nervous system is very dependent on how quickly you can activate your motor neurons. For this, it’s good to know how fast they are already firing and how you can train them to operate faster.
- Test your speed. The CNS Tap Test is a relatively simple phone app that tracks the speed and health of your nervous system by calculating how quickly you can tap on your phone with each thumb.
- Train your heart’s variability. Heart rate variability training is a great way to observe your parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems and train them to be more variable.
You can easily track your HRV with wearable technology like the OURA ring or using a phone app like Naturebeat . Naturebeat analyzes your data and provides you with health insights, like what activities engage the health metrics you are currently training.
8. Get deep sleep (10%+)
Deep sleep is fantastic for the mind. It is crucial for repairing, recovering, consolidating memories, and restoring overall cognitive function.
However, it can’t be measured by how many hours you spend sleeping; rather, it is measured by the length of time your brain is in delta, its lowest and most relaxed brainwave state. Ideally, 10% or more of our sleep should be spent in deep sleep.
Unfortunately, most people are often not getting that amount of deep sleep. If you feel you’re one of them, here are a few things you can do:
- Expose yourself to red light at night. Switching to a “red light only” rule at night is a great way to enhance your deep sleep. At the same time, do your best to limit your exposure to blue lights, like screens from your devices and artificial lighting, before bed. These kinds of lights tell your brain that it’s time to be awake and can really mess with your natural circadian rhythm.
- Switch to CBD before bed . While tokin’ or ingestibles might help you hit the hay like a narcoleptic on Xanax, the psychoactive compounds can actually decrease your ability to enter deep sleep. The good news is that CBD, the non-psychoactive yet incredibly medicinal and relaxing constituent of cannabis, actually improves deep sleep. Bonus: CBD is much easier to attain legally.
- Massage your deep tissues. A quick, self-service (if you must) deep tissue massage just before bed—using a foam roller or even a lacrosse ball—will relax your body and greatly increase the quality of your deep sleep.
Biohacking Guide for Optimizing Your Body
Optimizing your body is about increasing energy levels and achieving overall better health. Here are the top biohacking tips for the body to enhance your physical capabilities:
9. Become a fat-burning machine
Fat releases inflammatory cytokines, which are detrimental to your health and longevity.
So, controlling inflammation and your glycemic variability (how many blood glucose fluctuations you have throughout the day) are two of the most important things you can do to increase longevity (and to look good naked).
How you can do it :
- Do Ben’s “gain-busting” fat-burning routine daily. This strangely simple method turns you into a fat-burning machine, and it’s something you can do every single day. The best part is that this protocol is highly personalized and can be adapted to any fitness level or lifestyle. First, you wake up in a fasted state—preferably a fast of about 12 to 16 hours , then do about 30 minutes of calm, aerobic exercise, and follow up with 3-5 minutes of cold exposure.
- Fuel your morning. Have you heard of the legendary Danger Coffee? Created by Dave, it is hand-picked, farm-direct beans, remineralized with more than 50 trace minerals and electrolytes. As Dave Asprey puts it, “What makes you dangerous is feeling good.” And this is what Danger Coffee is all about.
10. Systemize your fitness routine
Consistency is key, as the saying goes. Add inefficiency, and you’ll find that you have more energy. This is evident from observing some of the oldest, fittest people on the planet.
Dave explains that if you work out less but enough, in the right way, at the right time, you have more energy (not less). His suggestion? Train your heart with a bit of cardio training and combine it with strength training and HIIT.
- Create a weekly routine that alternates some cardio training, HIIT, yoga, and weight lifting. Pick a type of physical activity that you really enjoy and do it consistently.
- Check out Ben Greenfield’s mighty-fine biohacking guide for exactly how to systematize your fitness plan to achieve your fitness goals.
11. Cleanse your gut
The gut microbiome is oftentimes dubbed the “second brain.” Not only is it intimately connected to your mental clarity , but it’s perhaps the most important ally in your overall health, well-being, and longevity.
- Do a coffee enema. It turns out that cleansing your colon with freshly brewed, caffeinated coffee and water is incredibly good for detoxing your system and keeping everything running smoothly. If you travel a lot, you can use compact coffee enema suppositories called Glytamins .
- Give yourself a deep belly massage. When many people experience gut issues, it isn’t necessarily because their gut is broken; rather, they may just have really tight psoas or iliacus muscles (located around the gut). To do deep tissue work on these rather sensitive muscles, you can use massaging devices like the PSO-Right and the MyoBuddy.
12. Control glycemic variability
Controlling your blood glucose fluctuations is one of the most important things you can do to confer longevity. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do before and after meals to help lower and stabilize your blood glucose response.
- Black pepper
- Bitter melon extract
- Ceylon cinnamon
- Apple cider vinegar
- Chew thoroughly and mindfully. Chewing your food 25–40 times per bite is a great way to activate your digestive enzymes and stabilize your glycemic response. Plus, it helps you to slow down and to appreciate each bite—there is a cornucopia of health benefits when it comes to eating mindfully .
- Exercise before and after a meal. Before a meal, Ben recommends doing as little as 30 seconds of explosive exercise. You can get creative here: a flash dance, burpees, air squats, chasing your kids around the yard, you name it. Then, within an hour after a meal, do some type of aerobic and zen exercise. This could be as simple as taking a stroll around your neighborhood or doing some yogic stretching.
13. Recover like Wolverine
A resilient body is key to a long, well-lived life. Thanks to science, there are many ways you can recover quickly—just like Wolverine from X-Men .
- Use peptides. There are peptides called BPC-157 and TB-500 that you can inject into the skin around your joints to enhance their ability to heal. If injecting peptides into your skin sounds a bit alarming, you’re not alone.
- Try stem cell injections. The purpose of this procedure is to increase the number of stem cells your body has available and, thus, decrease your propensity for aging. If you do a full-body stem cell makeover, be ready for a painful procedure that involves injecting every single joint in your body with stem cells and cutting-edge molecules called exosomes.
14. Fortify immunity
A hardy immune system is crucial to a long, healthy life. So it’s important to find new methods to boost your immune system as a sure way to enhance your longevity.
- Take colostrum supplements . Colostrum goat’s milk supplementation most notably gives your immune system an awesome boost. However, it also has a myriad of other health benefits, such as enhancing growth factors and soothing a stressed gut.
- Do a weekly Myers’ Cocktail IV. Rather than taking multivitamins and crossing your fingers for full absorption, you can do a Myers’ Cocktail IV. This way, you can get your body chock full of many nutrients that it may have trouble absorbing by injecting them directly into your bloodstream.
- Do low-level physical activity throughout the day. The reason for this is to keep your lymph fluid flowing optimally. Maintaining mobility throughout the day can be as simple as bouncing on a mini trampoline or doing light mobility training.
15. Hack your environment
Sometimes, our work environments don’t provide optimal conditions for varied movements. Remember: motion is lotion! If you are feeling stiff at your desk, or anytime, get yourself in motion.
Thankfully, there are many ways you can hack your environment and optimize it for longevity, health, movement, and flow.
- Move while you work . If you work in an office setting, being mobile while you work is key. A software called Dragon Dictation allows you to record and get an accurate transcription of what you are saying while you move around freely.
- Keep your brain activated while you work. To enhance the left and right hemispheric activity in the brain (aside from microdosing LSD), you can stand on a balance device, like Fluidstance , while you work to challenge your balance and keep your brain turned on.
16. Become a supermodel
Biohacking your way to beauty isn’t just the prerogative of women. Men, too, can add some healthy glow and sexiness to their overall appearance.
- A weekly clay mask. In case you were wondering, Ben does his weekly clay mask at the same time he does his coffee enema—just to paint you a mental picture and provide some comic relief while you read this rather sciencey biohacking guide. Weekly clay masks are a super-effective method for intensifying the glow, youthfulness, and firmness of your skin, as well as removing any harmful toxins. Opt for natural anti-aging brands.
- Supplement 20–40 grams of collagen per day. Collagen is found in our joints, bones, tendons, muscles, hair, nails, and skin; it is what keeps these important body parts strong, supple, and young. However, as we age, our body’s natural production of collagen decreases. For anti-aging benefits, you can incorporate collagen into your diet in supplement form or by drinking bone broth.
- Try golf ball rolling. Have you ever seen a supermodel with an awful, lopsided posture? Most likely not. This is because posture and body symmetry are very important factors in a sexy appearance and overall well-being. Your feet affect your posture and, ultimately, the entire symmetry of your body. To make sure your feet stay strong and maintain a good, stable platform for the health of your bodily structure, try golf ball rolling. It’s simple—keep a golf ball under your desk (or wherever) and roll each foot over it, working the ball into your tissue throughout the day.
17. Detox your way out of stress
Detox is often perceived as a mystical force that’s supposed to make you feel better, according to Dave. But that’s not how it works.
He explains that it’s your natural ability to transform and excrete certain toxins.
The challenge is that humans can’t handle high levels of toxins. Heavy metals, mycotoxins (mold), and endocrine disruptors that we are exposed to daily are extremely detrimental. So removing them from your body and environment is essential for your optimal health.
- Remove toxins from the environment. Investigate your environment and get rid of all plastic and BPA-containing items, mold, and scented products. Getting an air purifier is an excellent way to keep your air clean.
- Remove toxins from your body. Try dry body brushing to stimulate your lymphatic system. Exercise more to sweat it all out. Drink filtered water with electrolytes and minerals.
- Remove toxins from your food . It means avoiding processed and pre-packaged foods, caffeine, soy products, roasted meat, seafood, and vegetable oils—all of which have traces of the most common endocrine disruptors and heavy metals.
Biohacking Guide for Optimizing Your Spirit
These methods aim at improving your mood, increasing your sense of purpose and fulfillment, and cultivating a greater sense of contentment in your life.
18. Utilize the biology of belief
Your beliefs shape your biology the most (as covered in the first two parts). That’s because your beliefs affect your overall health, well-being, longevity, and even reality.
- Read The Biology of Belief by Dr. Bruce Lipton. This book dives into how different beliefs, frequencies, and emotions directly affect your cells and your overall genetic expression. It is an extremely fascinating and life-changing read.
19. Practice gratitude
A daily gratitude practice is undeniably beneficial for optimizing the health of your spirit.
Beyond that, it is also hugely beneficial for optimizing your overall biological well-being and longevity.
- Do a gratitude practice every morning. You can be creative with how you do this. Expressing your gratitude out loud with a partner, pausing to swell in appreciation throughout your day, or keeping a gratitude journal all work splendidly. In a gratitude journal, record three different things:
- What you are grateful for,
- A truth you have recently discovered, and
- One person you can help, pray for, or serve that day.
20. Heal with sound
Music has this magical ability to uplift our mood and spirit instantaneously. But did you know that the frequencies of sound (in music or otherwise) can actually affect your cognitive function, sleep, heart health, digestion, organ function, and more?
It’s fascinating how everything is interconnected.
- Carry a LoveTuner. You can carry a portable LoveTuner with you and blow into it to create a 520 Hz frequency to enhance your ability to express love.
- Listen to Wholetones music. The Wholetones Music Project is a series of beats that can heal your body and elicit certain emotions or moods depending on the sound frequencies you choose to tune into.
- Download the Mindvalley app. There is a library of meditations to help you improve focus, sleep, happiness, and a plethora of other incredibly powerful tracks.
21. Embrace more love
Love greatly elevates and sings to your spirit—perhaps more efficiently than anything in the Universe. And anything that sings to your spirit is fantastic for your overall health and longevity.
- Socialize and be with other people (in the flesh). The key here is to surround yourself with family, friends, and positive relationships—receive an oxytocin-boosting embrace, give an awe-inspiring compliment, or share a hearty, obnoxious laugh.
- Read connection-inspiring books. When feeling lonely or isolated, you may benefit from reading The Power of Introverts by Susan Cain, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle, and The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner.
22. Make sex experiential
Even just the thought of sex is enough to nourish our spirits and immediately alter our biology. So, how can we take your sexual life to the next level?
- Learn how to have multiple orgasms. For any man interested in discovering the physical and psychological secrets to fulfilling their sexual desires, Ben recommends reading The Multi-Orgasmic Man by Mantak Chia and Douglas Abrams Arava. This book guides you through everything from how to have multiple orgasms to how to maintain sexual vitality and longevity. For women, check out this video by tantra expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Tantra Touch Quest, Psalm Isadora.
23. Create a routine
When it comes to maintaining your health and hacking your biological age, routine is key. Having a consistent daily health routine—for mind, body, and spirit—will help you make health and longevity an automatic habit and daily ritual.
- Create a daily routine. Write down a personalized daily health routine and do your best to follow it every day. You can run through this post and pull things from it that you’d like to incorporate into your daily life. By writing down your routine, you will have something to refer to and help keep you on track throughout your day. After about thirty days of following a written routine, it will become an effortless habit.
- Get inspired by biohackers. Check out Ben’s Exact Morning Routine Unveiled Step-By-Step for inspiration. Also, Dave Asprey has written a fantastic book, Smarter Not Harder: The Biohacker’s Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want . It shows you how to achieve lasting health in less time.
Cultivating the Mindset for Biohacking
“There is no reason to stop improving,” as Dave puts it . So there shouldn’t be any limit to what’s possible for you.
Biohacking is a great and proven way to rewire your brain and make the most of your biology. Even the students of Dave’s Mindvalley Quest think so:
My energy levels increased measurably. All the changes were small and went easily. The successes came quickly. — Sabrina Neumann , student of Mindvalley’s Smarter Not Harder Quest
If you want to find out how upgraded you can be, join the 14-day Smarter Not Harder challenge with Dave Asprey.
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Dave Asprey is the trainer of Mindvalley’s “Smarter Not Harder” Quest. He is an entrepreneur, four-time New York Times bestselling science author, and host of the top 100 podcasts The Human Upgrade, formally Bulletproof Radio, which has more than 200 million downloads. He’s the founder of Danger Coffee and a leading voice in the movement to take control of our own biology. News outlets like the Today Show, CNN, Wired, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, and many more call him the “Father of Biohacking” because he started the movement and hosts the largest and longest-running biohacking conference.
Ben Greenfield is the author of Mindvalley’s “The Longevity Blueprint”. He is an ex-bodybuilder, Ironman triathlete, obstacle course racer, human performance consultant, speaker, and author of 13 books, including the New York Times Bestseller “Beyond Training”.
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What Is Biohacking? The High-Tech Wellness Movement That Wants To Help You Live Forever
The secrets to living a long life have long been a source of discussion in the scientific community, but imagine if making it to 100 wasn’t just luck of the draw.
According to Liviu Babitz, co-founder of CyborgNest , a tech company that designs sensory enhancement devices that look like pared-down Fitbits, we’re on the cusp of the next scientific frontier. Through rapid advances in technology, he believes that future generations of superhuman centenarians may be able to enjoy old age without the looming spectre of disease or sensory decline.
Every morning, the entrepreneur starts his day with an outdoor ice bath in the garden of his London home, before sitting down to take a carefully planned selection of nootropics and other supplements, designed to improve productivity and fight brain degeneration.
Until recently, he also had an electronic implant called the ‘North Sense’ inserted under the skin on his chest. The device, which is made of titanium, gently vibrates every time Babitz faces north, helping him to develop an innate sense of direction without relying on maps or a smartphone.
Liviu is part of a growing movement of people that call themselves biohackers; people who consciously ‘hack’ their bodies and minds to make them function better.
So What Exactly Is Biohacking Then?
The buzzword has become a bit of an umbrella term for anything that involves ‘do-it-yourself’ biology. Bulletproof Coffee founder Dave Asprey has been a key player in turning it into a Silicon Valley buzzword, and it’s a growing movement that’s starting to catch on in the UK too.
In the same way you can hack a computer, biohackers believe we can use science and data to improve our health, fight ageing, and up our life expectancy. Asprey even claims he will live to 180, thanks to his biohacking interventions.
“It’s a system thinking approach and a lifestyle,” explains Tim Gray , one of the UK’s leading voices on biohacking. “It’s the art and science of using nature, technology, and self-experimentation to take control of your own biology, so you can optimise your health, performance, and wellbeing.”
Gray says he first attempted to give his body a reboot after experiencing burnout, focusing on rebuilding his health through experimenting with different therapies and lifestyle changes – plus biohacking, of course. Over the last decade, he’s publicly documented his journey to so-called optimal health and regularly speaks about it with audiences across the globe.
“At its essence, the practice is targeted and quantified using data, rather than guesswork,” says Gray, who tracks his health daily by analysing different blood biomarkers. “The idea is that it’s preventative, helping you to take charge of your health early, rather than waiting to search for a cure for sickness.”
It’s important to note that it’s not the healthy lifestyle interventions that make you an extreme biohacker, however – it’s the ‘hacking’ element, and critics of the trend have called it controversial. Mostly, this is because converts are not qualified health care professionals, and many of the key figures at the forefront of the movement are tech entrepreneurs.
Biohacking In Practice
Biohacking can cover a huge range of different activities, ranging from the gentle – like tracking your sleep and making changes based on the data – to more extreme body modifications. “Biohackers optimise their health by nature first, technology second and medicine third,” says Gray.
The most experimental biohackers are known as Grinders. This subsection of the movement are almost part-cyborg, upgrading their bodies with a combination of gadgets, chemical injections and implants. Some of the more controversial (and dangerous) biohacks include parabiosis: the vampiric practice of swapping blood between a young person and an older person to increase life.
Other hardcore hackers have permanently implanted headphones into their ears, as well as microchips that open doors and transmit health data to their smartphone.
Why Do People Biohack?
According to proponents of the trend, there are a raft of benefits to shortcutting your biology.
For Babitz, the decision to implant an inch-long compass into his chest was out of desire to feel more in-tune with nature.
“Navigation orientation has become a huge pillar in our life in the last century. 200 years ago, you would have maybe travelled to a big city once in your lifetime, but today, everything moves so fast,” he explains.
“We live in a different environment, yet we are lost and we don’t really have an awareness of orientation and how things are connected.”
Liviuz’s start-up, CyborgNest, designed the compass as a solution to the problem. “Everytime you face the magnetic field of the planet, you get a vibrating notification, similar to those that birds and other animals have,” explains Babitz.
Buy why doesn’t he just use a smartphone? “The compass on your phone is something that you need to make a deliberate decision to use, but the magic with senses is that they are always on,” he explains.
“This helps us to build what we call our perception of reality. It’s the same with sensing the magnetic field of the planet; because it’s a permanent thing, you start understanding how things are connected and correlated with one another. The permanency of sensing the magnetic field, to me, was amazing.”
Image credit: CyborgNest
Ed van Harmelen, founder of supplements brand Youth and Earth , started his biohacking journey in his 40s, experimenting with regularly exercising in oxygen tents, utilising hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and practicing Wim Hof’s cold water therapy.
“I was at an age where I started to feel aches and pains more, and I noticed that it took me longer to recover, so I became curious about practices that could help me to feel better in the day-to-day,” he says.
Since then, he’s started adding MCT coconut oil to his coffee, taking NMN (an anti-ageing supplement), and experimenting with intermittent fasting practices.
Van Harmelen also has a flash glucose monitor inserted into his skin. ”It’s basically a small sensor that reads your glucose without having to finger-prick,” he explains. “You don’t have the hassle of having to go through the usual process – you scan the disc with your phone and it gives you a quick reading.”
There may be an obvious sense of convenience, but for some, biohacking can offer a sense of control over an uncertain future. “People want to learn more about their bodies and understand why certain things are happening, whether something feels off or it’s functioning in a less efficient way,” says Van Harmelen. “Ageing isn’t the problem, it’s the age-related diseases that come with it.
“For me, it’s about my health span and not just my lifespan, and learning more about how I can prevent health problems so I can age well,” he continues.“It’s an expensive lifestyle, but it’s something that became more of a priority for me as I got older.”
Is It Safe?
Some practices that feature in biohacking methods may be generally safe – like taking certain supplements, waking with the sunrise or making healthy changes to your diet. However, some of the more out-there biohacking techniques like body modifications, may not be safe and obviously shouldn’t be attempted at home.
As always, it’s important to speak to your doctor before making any adjustments to your diet or health – and none of us should blindly follow wellness trends without considering whether they’re really right for us. However, Gray says there are some gentle ways you can incorporate the thinking behind biohacking into your everyday life.
“You can safely ‘biohack’ at home by optimising your sleep, wearing blue-blocking glasses and limiting blue light exposure from gadgets,” says Gray. Blue light is thought to be detrimental because of its association with suppressing melatonin levels , leading to poor sleep.
Gray adds there’s emerging research to suggest that ‘grounding’ therapy – going barefoot outdoors – can help to improve our mood too. Some proponents of the trend believe that having direct contact with the earth – whether through walking barefoot or swimming in the sea – can help us to connect with its natural energy, which in turn can bring our bodies back into alignment.
Finally, getting your blood tested is one of the simplest and safest techniques. Blood work can tell you if you’re deficient in various nutrients, helping you to build a supplement plan that’s right for you.
Essentially, biohacking is not all about being a living synth, and while implanting microchips into our bodies still feels a long way away for the average person, there’s something we can all take from the underlying principle of consciously ageing well.
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- Biohacking: Everything You...
Biohacking: Everything You Need to Know
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Biohacking is an extremely broad term; it encompasses changes or manipulations to your brain and body to optimize your health without using traditional medicine. Biohacking can involve different things, depending on the person, whether the goal is weight loss or improving brain function . At its foundation, biohacking encompasses numerous modalities and interventions that are believed to improve health, vitality, and longevity.
Three Types of Biohacking
Nutrigenomics studies the impact that nutrients have on the expression of a person’s genome, or the interaction between your genes and the food you eat.
This practice can range from taking certain dietary supplements to manipulating your circadian rhythm in order to get better quality sleep . Nutrigenomics focuses on personal nutrition by testing how different nutrients affect your health in order to enhance the body’s gene expression. Some consider nutrigenomics controversial due to the belief that results can’t be linked entirely to the practice. Instead, they believe that nutrigenomics is just one factor out of many that impact our body’s response to nutrients in food.
Proponents of nutrigenomics claim benefits such as:
- Decreased risk of developing diseases, especially if predisposed
- Weight loss
- Reduced symptoms of depression
- Improved blood pressure and healthy gut bacteria
Even though food does play a role in impacting your genes and gene expression, nutrigenomics may not work for everyone – and nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle. Factors like exercise , weight, and stress management also play big roles in gene expression and disease prevention, so nutrigenomics may not be the silver bullet that biohackers are looking for.
DIY biology, also known as DIYbio, focuses on modifying DNA and allows biology enthusiasts to carry out experiments that are usually practiced only by medical and science professionals. DIY biology experts share their knowledge of a variety of techniques to help those outside the medical setting conduct experiments on their own. In the past, only trained experts were able to analyze and test concepts related to life science, such as synthetic biology or gene editing. However, DIY biology makes it possible for anyone to carry out these experiments in their home or community lab. Examples of DIYbio experiments you can do in your own home include :
- Extracting your own DNA
- Prepare a bacteria culture
- Ferment food
- Modify DNA to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
This type of biohacking is also controversial because people usually lack the education and formal training in safety and ethics that’s required to partake in DIY biology. There is also concern that the advanced equipment anyone can access will end up in the wrong hands and potentially be used – intentionally or accidentally – to create biological weapons .
The DIY movement was first popularized around the late 1960s, when people began to become skeptical of experiments done by experts. DIYbio didn’t really become popular in the United States until around 2008 , during a time of financial downturn when many labs were forced to shut down, making a large amount of equipment available for everyone at a cheap price. Since then, DIY biology has spread around the world.
Grinder is a type of biohacking that entails having experts make body modifications, such as implanting computer chips into the body or receiving injections or implants. This is a more radical type of biohacking compared to nutrigenomics and DIY biology. Grinders are looking to fully optimize their bodies – with help from these interventions.
Some grinders choose to practice because it can be fun and convenient, while others are curious about “blurring the line between human and machine.”
Why Do People Biohack?
Biohacking and was originally intended to find shortcuts to better health and well-being. Today it refers to a wide array of things, from diet and lifestyle products to radical experimentation. Unfortunately, many can take advantage of the term biohacking to imply quick fixes to complex health issues as well as for commercial clout and to sell supplements with unsubstantiated promises.
The fascination with biohacking is grounded in the fact that all people have the desire to better their mental and physical health. The wide range of motivating factors to practice biohacking is also where the risk lies. Once a person starts to feel better, they may want to keep going and optimize every part of their biology and body, even if it means radical experimentation without proper oversight.
People may also consider biohacking because it gives them a sense of control over their own physiology. For those who feel like they’ve tried everything to feel better, biohacking can help them gain a sense of control over their health. These practices can also foster a strong sense of community: Biohackers are able to connect online through a variety of social networks to share ideas and meet in person to run labs or attend biohacking conferences.
Biohacking Versus Traditional Medicine
Biohacking is centered around the idea that we can quickly push past our bodies’ abilities using a wide range of solutions, whereas traditional medicine prioritizes a longer-term approach, without interventions that don’t have a direct impact on a particular aspect of our health.
Traditional medicine has a focus on treating illness and disease, while biohacking wants to go beyond – to optimize rather than simply maintain health. Many biohackers view the human body as a technical problem that can be resolved with engineering, and they’re pushing the limits of what health can mean for any one person.
Is Biohacking Legal?
The legality of biohacking really depends on the type. Nutrigenomics is generally legal, unless someone is looking to take banned supplements, like steroids.
Overall, the less radical side of biohacking is legal and safe . It includes things like:
- Performance clothing
- Wearable technology
- Exercise regimens
- Supplement routines
The first bill regulating any sort of biohacking was passed in California, which made selling DIY genetic engineering or gene-therapy kits illegal unless they included a warning to not use the kit on yourself.
Even though most radical biohacking practices aren’t entirely prohibited, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) frowns upon radical approaches, procedures, and manipulations to achieve health and wellness.
As biohacking continues to progress, regulators are beginning to step into this uncharted territory and create new boundaries.
One side of the biohacking spectrum includes things like diet and lifestyle changes or managing your quality of sleep . This less radical side of biohacking is considered safe and can benefit your overall health and wellness.
The potentially dangerous side of biohacking involves administering unregulated drugs, manipulating genetic material, and conducting self-experiments that have a high risk of danger if not done correctly. Administering and discovering new drugs through biohacking, in particular, may dismiss the need for important research that would determine the safety and efficacy of such interventions.
Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to determine what they feel is safe in relation to biohacking. This also applies to your individual health in general – what works for you may not work for someone else, and vice versa. This is what IIN calls bio-individuality .
Bio-individuality refers to the idea that every person’s body is unique in its own way, as are their health and nutrition requirements. Creating a balanced diet and lifestyle is one way that will help most people meet their health and wellness goals. If you need help achieving your intended results, speak to a doctor or Health Coach to work with you through this process!
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Discover the transformative power of biohacking and holistic wellness on the "M.D.IVA: Biohacking Your Feminine Potential" podcast. Join M.D.IVA, a physician, chemist, and psychologist, as she unravels the latest insights and strategies for optimizing health, performance, and well-being. With a multidisciplinary approach to biohacking, M.D.IVA offers a feminine twist for unlocking your full potential and achieving holistic vitality.
M.D.IVA: Biohacking Your Feminine Potential MDIVA
- Health & Fitness
- NOV 6, 2023
M.D.IVA: Podcast Trailer
Welcome to M.D. IVA: Biohacking Your Feminine Potential, a weekly podcast where we delve into the fascinating world of biohacking tailored specifically for women. Get ready to embark on a journey of self-discovery, empowerment, and cutting-edge science as we explore the limitless potential of biohacking to optimize the female experience. In each 30 to 45-minute episode, we will uncover the secrets to unlocking peak performance, enhancing mental clarity, and promoting holistic well-being—all from a uniquely feminine perspective. Our inaugural episode, airing on November 14, 2023, sets the stage for an electrifying season ahead. We'll demystify the fundamentals of biohacking and discuss how it can revolutionize every aspect of a woman's life. From hormone optimization to personalized nutrition plans, we leave no stone unturned in our quest to empower you to become the best version of yourself. Subscribe now to M.D.IVA : Biohacking Your Feminine Potential on your favorite podcast platform and be prepared to elevate your life. Get ready to hack your way to a stronger, healthier, and more vibrant you. The revolution begins November 14, 2023—mark your calendars, because this is a journey you won't want to miss.
- © 2023 M.D.IVA: Biohacking Your Feminine Potential