Want to know the super-secret initiation into becoming a legit bio-hacker? Of course you do! Here it is…….start today. Implement a bio-hacking habit into your daily regimen, and BAM---just like that---you are a legitimate bio-hacker. Seriously, everyone has a bio-hacker in them. Haven’t all human beings tried to improve themselves since the beginning of time? There is no application process, qualifications, hazing, or auditions for being a bio-hacker. The first step is: adopt a bio-hacker’s mindset. My definition of that mindset is: be willing to learn, experiment on and improve yourself using multifaceted techniques. My personal bio-hacking mantra is: “whatever it takes”. If something seems sensible, safe, and the rewards outweigh the risks, I’m game to give it a go. Even if that something is not mainstream, traditional, or widely accepted, I trust myself and my ability to apply critical thinking.
After all, mainstream dogma and traditional medicine did nothing to help me escape chronic depression/bi-polar, anxiety, mold exposure, autoimmune conditions, and Lyme disease. I had to get creative and think outside of the options the limited solutions (medications) the doctors were able to give me. You might have experienced something similar. So whether you use a planner to organize your day (yes that is bio-hacking) or you are considering stem cells and fecal transplant, you are a legit bio-hacker.
Now that we have established that you are truly a bio-hacker, how do you bio-hack to get the most of the season? Do you notice a shift in your routine, mood, skin and appetite as the weather shifts? I certainly do! As fall’s chilly air and early nights gradually replace the long warm days of summer, your body begins to change as well. As much as we want to believe we are in control of our bodies, the forces of nature affect us at a cellular level. So as a bio-hacker, I want to optimize the changes that come with fall and winter. These are my power-tips for maintaining and improving your health and wellbeing during the darker and cooler months of fall. Enliven each one of your senses and spice up your fall with these bio-hacks!
1. Bio-Hacking Diet (Taste): 'Tis The Season?
Learn to love beets! Okay, maybe you don’t have to love beets, but the idea is that you should eat the foods that are in season. When beets are in season, you eat beets and anything else that is freshly grown. Give up the “convenience” model of shopping and eating. Sure, it is "convenient" to buy fresh strawberries in February. However, those strawberries have been grown very, very, very far from where you live and they were likely grown indoors without natural sunlight. We all live in different parts of the world, so use this site to learn about what is “in season” in your area. Better yet, subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture) program. This takes the pain out of planning or shopping and figuring out what is in season. You pay the farmer, they deliver (or you pick up) what they grow and then you eat it. Problem solved. How convenient is that?
Join the Slow Food movement that educates and celebrates local food traditions and production.
2. Bio-Hacking Touch: Mandatory Hugs
Have you ever taken the Love Language Quiz? I love this test and, personally, my results show that “physical touch” is my love language. This makes perfect sense to me because physical touch activates hormones and other brain chemicals. If there is one thing I have learned after my decades-long battle with depression and hormone imbalances, it is that I need help in the “hormone and brain chemical” departments. So whether you score as high on “physical touch” or not, you are going to want to increase your physical touch.
Science tells us that simple touch lowers cortisol (stress hormone) levels, blood pressure AND anxiety and pain levels. Touch, including holding hands and hugging, improves immunity and blood flow to your brain. Your body was designed to respond positively to touch. Your skin has Pacinian corpuscles. They act as messengers. When someone touches you, the Pacinian corpuscles send a message to your vagus nerve. This nerve runs into your brain and causes the release of oxytocin and other “feel-good hormones”. Want a better mood, less stress and anxiety? Touch is the key. Give away more hugs, hold hands, and pet your fur-baby.
Additionally, nothing is worse than dry cracked skin. This is a sure sign that fall is in full swing and that winter is just around the corner. But, as a bio-hacker, I am super picky about what to put on my largest organ---my skin. It's easy to find lotions that claim all-natural, organic, and paraben-free. But I’m looking for something beyond those marketing words. I rely on the Environmental Working Group’s concise tips for my go-to guide. And in case you are wondering, here are my personal faves: 100% Pure Cosmetics, CocoRoo, Nurture My Body, and everything made by AnneMarie Gianni.
3. Bio-Hacking Smell: Check Your Breath
What does fall smell like for you? For me, it smells like the first rain, fireplaces, and bone broth. As much as I love those smells, I also get fall allergies. To keep my nose from burning, itching, and getting clogged, I practice nostril breathing. There are a few techniques that are easy and very effective. Patrick McOwen teaches Buteyko breathing techniques that are world-renowned for improving allergies, asthma and snoring. The first step in most breathing exercises is closing your mouth. When you start paying attention to how often you “mouth breathe” you may be a little startled. We don’t picture ourselves as walking around with our mouths hanging open, but this is often the case. I also rely on alternate nostril breathing or Nadi Shodhana to keep my nostrils clear and my nervous system calm.
If you have been exposed to mold as I have, you probably have a lot of nasal symptoms. At one point, my nose was colonized (infected) with mold, and I have used every nasal spray ever created. Just like your digestive tract, your nose needs to have good probiotics. I have been using Restore nasal spray for a few months. It’s too early to tell, but I’m hopeful that I will restore healthy flora in my nose.
4. Bio-Hacking Sight: Sunglasses At Night
I marvel when I see the leaves changing colors and I mourn when I see the sun setting earlier. Fewer sunlight hours changes your metabolism, memory and mood. But less sunlight isn’t the problem for most people. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Even though the sun goes down earlier in the fall, we are still flooding our bodies with light through our overhead lights, TVs, computers and phones. Our eyes are perpetually exposed to bright blue light which gives our brains the ideas that it is day time--even when it is midnight.
When your brain gets the signal that is day, then you don’t make enough melatonin to sleep. Low melatonin results in low serotonin and then you are more prone to depression and anxiety. If you are like me, then you are constantly looking at a screen, especially during work hours. This is a necessary “evil” for most of us. Luckily there is an easy bio-hack for that.
Non-prescription glasses that block the blue spectrum are easy and affordable, and actually kind of cute too. Ra Optics has the highest quality blue blockers. Their glasses block the highest percentage of blue light. They offer both day and night glasses. The dark orange lenses protect your eyes at night, while the clear ones are for daytime use.
I’ve been having sleep issues off and on for about a decade. Over the past year, I have religiously worn my blue blockers day and night. I have been sleeping like a baby despite stress, hormone issues and changing seasons. Managing my light intake (a.k.a limiting blue light) is one of the most potent bio-hacks I have used and it is relatively inexpensive.
5. Bio-Hacking Sound: Rose Gold Ear Tubes
In my office, earphones are a must. We have an open-concept office that allows for creativity, collaboration….and distraction. But there is no way I want to risk my health by wearing airpods. Instead, I’ve made the smart and stylish choice of wearing ear tubes. Nope, not earphones, ear tubes. Earphones are slightly less detrimental to your health than airpods, but ear tubes are your safest option. Who wants EMFs traveling from your phone right into your ears and brain? EMF Academy has a great graphic that explains the EMF problems associated with traditional earphones and earbuds. I’m a visual learner, so this graphic made it so easy for me to understand this issue.
Besides the EMFs, consider the volume at which you are listening. Headphones, especially earbuds, are dangerous for the tiny hairs near your eardrum. Studies show that adolescents and young adults are losing their hearing at unprecedented rates. The smaller the earbud, the closer you can shove it in near your eardrum. And the more risk you have in losing your hearing. Stick with ear tubes at a reasonable volume.
6. Bio-Hacking Bonus: It's Chili. (Just Kidding, It's Chilly)
I’ve got one more secret for spicing up your fall. Cold therapy, cold adaptation, cold thermogenesis, and cryo-therapy. These are all the same thing with different names. Basically, you can own the cold instead of it owning you. I’ve had hypothyroidism for at least 25 years. Half of that time I was undiagnosed and couldn’t figure out why I was always so d@*N cold. A cold day was enough to send me to bed at one point in my chronic illness and depressive years. I’m still prone to getting unusually cold, but practicing cold therapy has improved those symptoms tremendously. I like to multitask, so I go outside as soon as the sun comes up. I get some great full-spectrum light from the sun, and I am training my body and nervous system to adapt to the cold. I used to be the girl who couldn’t get in the pool unless it was heated, and now I’m taking ice baths and sitting in a frozen lake in February.
I know that at least one of thse bio-hacks will add some spice to your fall season. I can't really pick a favorite because I love them all. Each one has improved my physical and mental wellbeing. If you have to pick just one, pick the one that you can start today and then...start today.