BIOHACKING is the combination of IT knowledge and biological systems to optimize performance, body, and mind. It may sound too technically but actually, most of us biohack on a daily basis probably without our knowledge.
We have at least a cup of coffee or tea each morning, try to sleep for at least eight hours a night and still create time for a daytime nap and, well, feed on a balanced diet.
.What Exactly is Biohacking?
In the simplest of terms, biohacking can be defined as the desire and endeavor to be the best of yourself.
It is the art of manipulating biology using natural mechanisms and technological ideas to bring out the desired outcome on your body.
Biohacking can technically be broken down into two broad categories:
- Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Biologists
According to Dave Asprey, one of the leading biohackers in the world right now, you can be a biohacker by either hacking biology outside your body or manipulate your own biology to better the general performance of your body.
These biologists claim biohacking is a way for anyone to explore the possibilities of biological research outside the restrictions of work-based or academic goals. Those undertaking this kind of projects range from the greenest of novices to professional biologists all eager to be part of innovations and discoveries.
Their works are almost entirely all about DNA manipulation and identifying weaknesses (especially on plant matter) and working to improve specific cellular structures.
Superhumans work on their own bodies to ensure they remain productive. By preparing that meal schedule or hitting the gym to tone your abs, you fall under this category of biohacking. Basically, anything that is done intentionally to improve your wellbeing
.History of Biohacking
The term biohacking is around thirty years old now but has only burst into the mainstream during the start of the century when hacker communities started promoting garage laboratories in San Francisco. It simply came up as a combination in the meaning of its component words “bio” and “hacking”.
From my viewpoint, by the early 2000s, biohacking had spread wide enough to cover even subjects outside of the two aforementioned categories. The two fields themselves have grown more sophisticated as time draws on and are now encompassing tens of new sub-fields.
While some people improve the physical state of their bodies by following strict diets and attending gym sessions, for instance, some people give it a more direct approach which includes receiving physical implants, fat removal, and tummy tucking to develop themselves into mini-cyborgs.
Cosmetic surgeries are basically what we are talking about; increasing butt and breast size using silicone or special fluids to make lips and cheeks fuller and more “desirable”.
While routes followed may vary thanks to natural bodily conditions, willingness to work, financial ability, urgency etc. one thing remains: they are all aimed at making the human body better and more acceptable to the current state of technology.
.Biohacking Tips for Beginners
There is too much content about biohacking out there that you can get your hands on and pore over as a beginner, but due to the sophistication of the field, I have a suggestion of where you can start.
And this is not one of those easier said than done “eat two leaves of broccoli thrice a day for three months starting now” or “make sure you sleep exactly between 9 pm and 8 am” type of suggestions.
No. This is a little more simple, less taxing and practical, but actually very effective if adhered to.
I’m going to give you five tools but don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard the best biohackers out there suggest you try some of them.
1. Have an Air Purifier
This is recommended directly by Dave Asprey himself, who wants you to live 180 years with him.
He maintains that our kind of environment right now doesn’t allow for any health-conscious individual – especially those dwelling in cities – to consider investing in an air purifier as an option.
The idea is to do away with inhalable microscopic particles in the air to reduce the risk of inflammation, he explains.
2. Avoid LED Lights
Asprey expresses his concern on the recent switchover from the conventional red light bulbs to LED lighting.
Our bodies, according to him, have not evolved to adapt to light fivefold more blue than sunlight or light without infrared and ultraviolet rays.
He recommends installing the old-fashioned red or amber lights and ensuring you have a dimmer switch too.
3. Fast Sporadically
While this may seem a little absurd, it has actually proven to be one of the most effective biohacking techniques aimed at improving brain power.
It’s never usually suggested because of varying eating habits among biohackers, some of which may not chime well with intermittent fasting.
This is basically for anyone whose meal schedule is steady and followed to the letter.
So how helpful is fasting in biohacking and how should I go about this fasting?
Firstly, I might need you to answer this: what is the bodily function that requires most energy?
Walking or even eating maybe?
The human brain contributes to only 2 percent of the body mass but uses up more energy than other organ or set of muscles.
It needs a regular supply of oxygen and, of course, blood to carry that oxygen for enhanced cognition. If anything naturally improves this, then it has to be fasting.
Staying for eight hours after waking up without feeding (which means skipping breakfast) has been shown by studies to increase your cognitive capacity.
Also, it increases your brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which triggers your brain to build and release more neurons.
We all know what more neurons means: better processing and higher learning capacity.
Of course restricting yourself to two meals a day also reduces your calorie intake and increases your lifespan by a whopping 40 percent but that’s just a spin-off bonus.
Another advantage to the brain is that it keeps it away from harm by triggering autophagy – a state where the brain starts using old cells for fuel. This maintains the level of toxins at a tolerable low and also keeps Alzheimer’s at bay.
Lastly, a study shows that intermittent fasting improves mood and vigilance as the new diet pattern triggers the release of dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline, which combine in large amounts to boost positivity, focus, and motivation.
4. Work on Your Posture
Upright posture has been shown to offer more to your body than just an improved spinal health.
Also, according to studies, it has an effect on the people you interact with; it communicates confidence and subtly passes a message that you are worth respecting and listening to. It plausibly increases your confidence as well.
Amy Cuddy of Harvard University did a research of her own apropos the relationship between posture and body chemistry, and her findings as presented at TED were nothing short of astonishing.
They categorized posture as either “high power” or “low power” representing good posture and bad posture respectively.
Amy explained that high power poses not only reflected but also produced power, increasing implicit and explicit feelings of dominance and power, pain tolerance, action orientation and risk-taking behavior while reducing the stress hormone cortisol and anxiety.
Specifically, the level of testosterone (the dominance hormone) rose by 20% on subjects while cortisol went down by 25%. For the lower power poses by different subjects but under the same conditions, there was an average 15% increase in cortisol and a 10% decrease in testosterone.
Hacking your body language to boost confidence and involves practicing these habits as regularly as possible:
- Keeping your chest out and your back
- Keeping your chin straight and high
- Spreading out your legs and arms when in a seating position
- Keeping your abdomen somewhat activated to help keep your spine upright
5. Reduce Sugar Intake
Sugar is one of the most consumed foodstuffs in the world. Unfortunately, it has more side effects than you can count if used overly.
One of them is that it kills off dopamine receptors, making dopamine virtually useless in triggering natural happiness or pleasure.
Adding insult to injury, sugar is actually addictive, which means you may never get to fully salvage your brain’s capability through its receptors to sense dopamine as a source of pleasure.
Completely doing away with sugar from your diet may be a little difficult but definitely taking a cut can be tolerated. Here is how you can seamlessly go about that.
First of all, you need to know which products contain sugar, or just too much of it, so that you can avoid them.
Look at the percentage recorded against any of the following names on the product blurb before you toss it into the trolley:
- Malt syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Agave nectar
It makes sense that if you don’t have sugary products in your kitchen then you are not going to take sugar, so the first step is to ensure they don’t get to your home.
Cravings might come to haunt you after, especially during the first few days but you can always satisfy them by eating salad, including a lot of protein in your meal and getting enough rest and sleep.
Eating a lot of proteins will busy your stomach and cut down the cravings for sugar. An overdose of proteins is not even a fraction as harmful as an overdose of sugar could be.
Sleep Hacking is basically one of the easiest forms of biohacking because it suggests you do something you love doing.
If you find it hard drifting off naturally, however, try such sleep-inducing methods as music, count sheep etc. but try as much possible to not rely on drugs.
Check out our list of the Best Sleep Trackers to help you achieve your goals.
.The Future of Biohacking
Biohacking is currently a common practice to plenty of people, according to Dave Asprey, who believes it is now apparent that traditional self-improvement, weight loss, health etc. don’t work.
To him, biohacking is a natural evolution that we have no choice but to follow. He thinks that the more people join the movement, the more awareness spreads, and the more biohacking become commonplace.
There will consequently be the need for better hacks, newer trends will evolve due to the increased number of people willing to find easier solutions and the practice will slowly develop into an irresistible force.
The annual Biohacking Conference will be held in LA late in September and Asprey, who will be in attendance, believes that that will be the best place to learn new practices and products.
Moreover, there is a new and fast-growing trend of technological implants to enable a quantified self and to start logging and keeping track of all your personal data, for the purposes of better health and self-improvement. We will update this article over the coming weeks to keep you up to date on these as well.
Biohacking is one of the numerous things that have emerged to solve problems that have existed for decades but have been looked right through.
There is no denying that most people have wished they had a guide to living a near-natural life but without really going back to the Jurassic era.
That’s what biohacking is offering: a way of life which makes the most of the technology but shuns every little unconstructive bit of it. It makes for a foolproof self-perfection method that lets you choose how you would like your mind and body to be.
Technology only plays the part of making it easier, and that is why we are a lucky generation.
You can start your own body hacks and mind hacks using the five tips we have offered you above. Just make sure you don’t start with a bang. Take it step by step. By the end of the day, you will have integrated them all into your life.