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What Is Biohacking?

Biohacking is an anti-ageing and longevity focused health optimisation movement that has evolved from the Quantified Self. It is a collection of ideas to achieve optimal performance while employing the minimal effective dose. It is designed to help you unlock your inner potential and tune you to a higher degree than other mortals. 

Being a biohacker means to question everything: your body, your mind, your spirit. An awakening of sorts. It is about overcoming limiting beliefs, delving into your inner abilities, and trying to become an improved, healthy and happy you. With feedback from self-measurement, biohackers explore altering blood chemistry and physiology through self-experimentation, science, and technology [2]. It's possible for me to take my own blood sample at home and send away for the results. No doctor's permission needed. I can also measure my glucose and ketone levels at any given time to see how my diet is impacting me. Did you know an elevated heart rate after a meal could indicate a food intolerance? News to me.

My Story

I am 32 years old. I have spondylolisthesis (one of my low spinal bones has slipped forward) which is not that painful as it sounds, but it bothersome when I carry heavy things around, or I am too tired, or the weather gets too cold. (Yes, I am like these old ladies who feel it is going to rain in their bones).

I have had this bad back for as long as I can remember and despite the countless doctor visits, x-rays, medication, physical exercise, the conclusion was this: “you have to live with it, do not put on weight and take painkillers when you cannot handle the pain”.

A life sentence of pain management.

How many of you have been to specialist after specialist and had to listen to the same thing?

I refuse to let my bad back affect my everyday life. I want to grow old with a healthy body and a healthy mind. That is why I want my well-being in my own hands. I try to maintain an ideal BMI, I practice yoga and swim twice a week. I keep my mind engaged with academic studies and sudoku. I follow a Mediterranean diet. On top of that, I keep up to date with the new superfoods like moringa, medicinal mushrooms, shilajit and tiger nuts, as well as exercise regimes from facial yoga to the X3 bar. (!). 

Imagine, therefore, my surprise when I came across a term I have never heard before. Biohacking. Even more surprisingly, it is not a new trend, but has been around as early as 2007 [1]!

So after doing some research on the subject, I decided to self-experiment with some beginner biohacks for my energy, sleep and brain performance to see what the fuss is all about!

  

Understand Your Body

Biohacking evolved from the Quantified Self movement whose main principle is "If you can measure it, you can change it!"In 2007, the term Quantified Self was used by Gary Wolf and Steve Kelly, to describe: 

 

A collaboration of users and tool makers who share an interest in self-knowledge through self-tracking

 

The quantified self is based on improving self-knowledge through numbers. With the use biohacking products like the Oura Ring and accompanying apps, it’s now possible to quantify nearly everything in your daily life: your ingested calories, your glucose levels, your steps taken, your sleep patterns, etc. All the data can now be seamlessly collected, analysed and acted upon. 

By tracking your data, you can control your mental and physical health. Using the data available, we can formulate questions and conduct experiments:

  • What if I reduce my carbs intake, what will happen to my body?
  • What if I sleep earlier? What will it do to my productivity? 
  • What if I take 5000 steps everyday, does it reduce my resting heart rate?
  • If I increase my Vitamin D level, will I decrease my inflammatory markers?
  • If I change my microflora with this probiotic supplement, will I experience less IBS?
  • If I practice HRV training for 5 minutes everyday, will I be less triggered and reactive to stressful incidents?

 

Biohack Your Life

With a community of biohackers sharing their experiments, there’s a gigabrain of curated knowledge to tap into and delve into self-experimenting. You take responsibility. You fundamentally change your behaviour and strive for optimised health, from head to toe, to spirit.

Biohacking topics
A Biohacking community can boast tons of information on numerous topics. 
Image source: https://daveasprey.com/beginners-guide-to-biohacking-101/

 

As Dave Asprey, the self proclaimed “father of biohacking” explained the meaning of biohacking as:

"Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and the environment inside of you so that you'll have control of your own well-being." [3]

 

Biohacking is like Functional Medicine, as Dr Mark Hyman commented:

 

It's the science of getting healthy. It's the science of actually understanding, at a deep level, how the body functions, that dynamic system, and optimising those systems to not only get rid of the disease but actually to perform at a much higher level”. [4]

 

Ben Greenfield uses biohacks geared towards Anti Ageing and Health-span. To slow and perhaps reverse the accumulation of damage over time that seems inevitable as the body’s systems wear down. This is achieved with strategies targeted towards optimised sleep, diet and a resilient immune system.

While the body is designed to survive, biohackers are the people who are looking far enough into the future to recognise that in order to be thriving in old age. They know the time to take action is right now. Biohacking is perhaps a new term coined to embody the ideas of holistic health, or perhaps Health Optimisation. Biohacking, however, sounds edgy, cool. It’s futuristic. It's novel, cutting edge and attractive. It’s an intriguing name. 

My Top 7 Biohacks for Beginners

References:

[1] https://innovatemedtec.com/digital-health/quantified-self
[2] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcomp.2020.00021/full
[3] https://www.entrepreneur.com/video/333845
[4] https://drhyman.com/blog/2016/10/21/biohacking-101-with-dave-asprey/

Guest Author
Guest Author

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



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