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Biohacking is a path to living longer, healthier and more satisfied. This is about implementing scientifically-driven lifestyle habits to maintain optimal health all throughout the lifespan.

In fact, most of the time these are small habits that when performed daily have a great effect on the overall wellbeing. It could be as simple as cutting down sugar consumption to something more advanced as using special gadgets to practice breathing techniques. 

Here are some ways we can hack longevity and feel healthy, happy and energized regardless of age.

1. Healthy Centenarians Show Diverse Microbiome Populations With Enhanced Levels of Secondary Bile

Bile acids are vital elements for effective digestion and metabolism of fats and oils. Primary bile acids are synthesised in the liver and stored in the gallbladder, while secondary bile acids are generated by bacteria in our gut. Bile acids join with taurine or glycine residues to make bile salts.

Centenarians potentially remain relatively healthy into extreme old age by maintaining a microbiome enriched in microbes capable of generating high volumes of these unique secondary bile acids. Bile acids are emerging as a new class of enterohormones (gastrointestinal hormones) beyond their classic role in fat digestion and absorption.

Reduced bile acid levels in the gut are associated with bacterial overgrowth and inflammation. It is certainly conceivable that manipulating concentrations of specific bile acids, whether microbially or by giving them directly, could exert health benefits.

Clostridioides difficileResearchers found that a compound made by intestinal microbes in centenarians strongly inhibits the growth of Clostridium difficile, which causes severe diarrhea and gut inflammation.

Source: Wikimedia / CDC/ Lois S. Wiggs (PHIL #6260), 2004

A build up of gallstones can block the bile duct that connects your gallbladder to your small intestine. Gallstones are fairly common, affecting around one in three women and one in six men at some point in their lives. Gallstones are more likely as you get older.

Source: Broad Institute, Nature 

2. This is How Chronic Pain Alters the Brain

Ongoing pain is associated with a decrease in GABA, an inhibitive neurotransmitter in the medial prefrontal cortex.

A decrease in GABA means that the brain cells can no longer communicate with each other properly. When there’s a decrease in this neurotransmitter, our actions, emotions and thoughts get amplified.

Furthermore, low levels of glutamate (another important neurotransmitter) in the medial prefrontal cortex of chronic pain sufferers was linked to increased feelings of fear and worry.

When someone is in pain, it increases stress hormones like cortisol, which can trigger massive increases in glutamate. This happens during the initial, acute stage of pain.

It is possible that immune cells in certain parts of the brain then attempt to try and regulate these neurotransmitter abnormalities. But by doing so, in the context of chronic pain, this leads to long-term downregulation of key neurotransmitters needed to manage emotional behaviors. As a result of this disruption a person’s ability to feel positive emotions, such as happiness, motivation and confidence may be taken away – and they can’t easily be restored.

Source: UNSW

3. The GP Beating Diabetes with Low Carb Diets Instead of Pills

Dr David Unwin, 62, has seen more than 100 Type 2 diabetes sufferers put their disease into remission thanks to his low carb approach. An anti-sugar campaigner and family GP, he admitted he used to dish out drugs to sufferers daily until a woman confronted him in his surgery.

the effect of low carb diet on treating diabetes

"In 2012 I saw my first case of drug-free remission of Type 2.
She worked out it was logical to cut not just sugar but also the starchy foods like cereals, rice and bread that digest down into large amounts of sugar. Instead she ate more red meat, fish, eggs and dairy with loads of green veg. She had lost 10 percent of her body weight and looked terrific.

My practice has repeated this 100 times, saving £60,000 (AU$113,000) per year on drugs. We have published our results but the best bit is seeing people properly well."

Dr Unwin encourages his patients to eat lots of green veg, meat, fish, eggs, full fat milk, cream and cheese – foods that do not push blood sugar up.

Forbidden foods include starchy products like bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, crisps, cake and chocolate.

Dr Unwin's Published Study: Low-Carbohydrate Diets in the Management of Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

reduced carb intake on reversing type 2 diabetes

"I used to ­follow conventional guidelines and blame my patients if what I gave them didn’t work, but I can no longer look myself in the mirror if I blithely prescribe drugs, knowing I can help people help themselves.

We already knew for men over 40, in particular, the risk of Type 2 steadily increases with age so it is crucial people in this group check their risk and get the right support.

When I started here as a young GP 35 years ago there were just 57 people with diabetes in our practice. It was quite a rare illness, as was the obesity it is so often associated with. Also, it affected older people.

This is important as Type 2 does its damage via raised blood-sugar as a function of time. So older people have less time for damage to accrue. By 2012, diabetes was no longer rare. Individuals were decades younger including one just 10 years old. Amputations, heart disease and blindness were common."
- Dr David Unwin

Source: Daily Express

A disclaimer: if you are on prescribed drugs for your diabetes, it is important to discuss diet with your prescriber before making major changes.

4. Optimised Breathing: Effects of Respiratory Muscle Training on Performance in Athletes

Rich Froning (4 time Crossfit Games winner, one of the fittest in history by that standard) credits intermittent fasting with increasing his testosterone, but he also makes use of regulated breathing.

"Recovery is king in a sport that’s based around a clock ... When it matters most, if your heart rate and breathing are out of control, everything else falls apart."
Rich Froning

He is amongst the advocate of AIRWAAV, a performance mouthpiece that increases the width of your airway an average of 9%.

AIRWAAV mouthpiece

AIRWAAV mouthpiece

This serves to:

  1. Lower respiratory rate by 20%.
  2. Reduced lactic acid levels in muscles, improving muscular endurance.
  3. Reduces cortisol build up after workouts by up to 50%, thereby reducing recovery time.

Ryan Atkins, an Obstacle Course Racing world champion, also noticed the benefits of using an adaptive mouthpiece, saying:

"my FTP (functional threshold power) went up by 20 watts, seemingly overnight."

Studies have found respiratory muscle training is of benefit to both athletes and non-athletes for improving respiratory muscle endurance.

Source: J Strength Cond Res.Phys Ther Sport.

Guest Author
Guest Author

This article was contributed by a guest author with expert knowledge in their field.

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