What You Need to Know: A Bio-Hacker's Check-Up
Bio-hacking sounds like a high-tech and intimidating skill, but, really, you were born a bio-hacker.
Bio-hacking sounds like a high-tech and intimidating skill, but, really, you were born a bio-hacker. The word starts with the concept of “hack.” What is hack, hacker, and hacking? We all recognize when someone says their email or social account was hacked. That means it was taken over and used for another purpose. We are all familiar with the idea of life hacks, time hacks, efficiency hacks and every other kind of hacks. This use of the word “hack” signifies a shortcut or strategy to make tasks easier, more efficient, or faster. So that leaves us with bio-hacking.
Bio-hacking is just a fancy new word for what humans have been doing since the dawn of time---trying to live longer, feel better, and be smarter, faster and stronger. And now, because of science and the speed of technology, cutting edge bio-hacking strategies are available to the masses at the click of a mouse. In ages past, improving your health and performance was left to health nuts (think 1970s health food store owners), elite athletes, esoterics, medical researchers, and monks. But now, information is dispersed so quickly and easily that everyone (from tired soccer moms to overworked executives) can easily find strategies for improving their health and performance.
Dave Asprey, known as the father of the biohacking movement, defines it as: "Bio-hacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you, so you have more control over your own biology."
"Bio-hacking is essentially the practice of changing our chemistry and our physiology through science and self-experimentation to energize and enhance the body. It’s a broad definition, but that’s also because the idea of “bio-hacking” is constantly evolving. It can be as simple as implementing lifestyle and dietary changes that improve the functioning of your body. It can be as daily as using wearable technology to help you monitor and regulate physiological data. Or it can be as extreme as using implant technology and genetic engineering."
You might be a biohacker if:
-You have ever read a self-help book (and who hasn’t?)
-You have ever measured your heart rate, whether you used your fingers on your neck or a wearable technology
-You have ever tried a new diet or eating plan
-You have researched symptoms on Google
-You have started a new or different type of exercise or physical movement
-You have ever taken a deep breath….
Ok, so you get the point. Everyone is a bio-hacker at some level. Some people are at the extreme with experimental gene manipulation while others are avid researchers and self-experimenters. And then you have bio-hacking dabblers who heard about butter coffee and cold plunges while flipping through Newsweek. And at the opposite of the extremist, are those who have never even heard the word “bio-hacking,” and seem to have an aversion to taking care of their physical and mental health.
Where are you on this spectrum?
How did I become a bio-hacker?
I was born a bio-hacker, just like you. I came to embrace bio-hacking out of necessity. I found more answers in self-experimentation and self-driven research than I was getting from traditional medicine. By the time I was 21, I had multiple psychological diagnosis, and by 30 I had 2 handfuls of physical diagnosis. When I heard Dave Asprey tell his stories about being “sick” with multiple diagnosis and having to figure out his own health and wellness, I was electrified. That was my story too.
For over a decade I had been actively bio-hacking, but not giving it that specific name. I had been searching for better answers than, “you are depressed, take this medication,” and “everything on your blood test looks normal”. And now I had a name for my journey. Better yet, there were others who were just as dedicated (and more) than I was.
To my astonishment, there were even people who bio-hacked their health because they were already healthy and wanted to be healthier, stronger, smarter, and faster. In contrast, I was pretty “sick” and was using bio-hacks to get to a life where I could consistently get out of bed. So the thought of someone who was already high-functioning using strategies to improve and optimize their health was an enormous paradigm shift for me.
All of the sudden, working on my health wasn’t a chore or a punishment, it was a sexy hobby shared by many other people.
I went from feeling like the universe, nature, my genetics, and life were against me, to feeling like I could conquer all my symptoms. I went from feeling broken and predestined to suffer, to empowered and self-sustaining. This revelation erased the victimhood from my diagnosis that years of CBT therapy had yet to banish.
How can you become a bio-hacker?
Like I explained above, you are already a bio-hacker. So if you have been hesitant to claim that title, now is your moment. You officially have permission to call yourself a bio-hacker. Embrace the will and power within you. Instead of thinking, I’m stuck with this or that symptom, or disease, your new mantra is “I’m bio-hacking (fill in the blank).” Or if this one fits better: “I’m using bio-hacks to resolve….”
There is no limit to bio-hacking. You can apply the idea of biohacking to anything whether it is mental or physical.
If you are new to the concept of bio-hacking, or you recognize you have been bio-hacking for decades, you are welcome here. Let's all stand arm and arm and sing a round of “Kumbaya,” or a newer version of the same idea, “All Is Welcome Here.”
Biohacking basics: Top bio-hacks for your brain and body
Whether you bio-hack or biohack (the internet can’t seem to agree on the proper form) for resolving symptoms and disease, or you just want to optimize, these strategies are going to be the same.
We all know that we are what we eat. More importantly, we are what we absorb. Clean up your diet. Adopt an elimination diet. My favorite is Whole30 because it is easy to follow and has a TON of support.
Your body needs water. You are made of water and every time you drink water, you are re-making your body. If water is a building block for you body, then start with a good raw ingredient. And when I saw “good raw ingredient” I’m NOT talking about tap water which is contaminated with pharmaceutical medications, fluoride and chloramines. I’m referring to filtered water. Here is what I use.
Blue light comes from your phone, TV, iPad, computer, and light fixtures---so basically everywhere you are. It also comes from the sun. But unless you live on a desert island, you are likely getting way too much fake blue light from your technology and not enough real blue light from the sun. Bio-hack your exposure to fake blue light by using filters on your technology, wearing blue blockers, and going outside.
We all have to breathe to stay alive, so bio-hack that fact by using air filters, and breathing correctly. There are endless breath techniques that have beneficial effects. Choose one, or multiple ones, that work for you. The most important part is to breathe deeply and fully as a matter of habit. The benefits include a full spectrum of measurable improvements in both your mind and body. I use Buteyko for chronic sinus congestion, decompression breathing while I strength train, ujjayi for yoga, 4-7-8 for stress, and nasal breathing as a habit.
You have read that sitting is the new smoking. Please get moving. I’m not talking about endless amounts of cardio, which is sure to make you miserable. I’m not even talking about a new and detailed work-out plan. I’m talking about making movement a part of your life and regular routine. If your health and fitness only allow you to do bed yoga, then do that. Trust me, I’ve been there, and focusing your breath will activate your vagus nerve, and even the smallest movements move your lymph fluid. Incorporate as much walking and standing into your life as possible. Beyond these basics, bio-hack your movement with HIIT and strength training.
From beginner to advanced, where do you fall on the biohacking spectrum?
On the far left you have “not sure what the word means” and on the far right is “I inject myself with experimental treatments. I think I’m a little to the right of the midline.
I’m willing to forgo staying up late to vegetate in front of the TV so that I can get 8 hours of sleep because that is what my body needs. I think, feel, and act happier when I get that much sleep. I sleep in a bio-hacked bedroom with no TV, no phone, and no wi-fi. I also have black-out curtains, a fan, and set the thermostat to 65.
I wear blue blocking glasses, take supplements, and follow a specific eating plan.
I’m willing to jump in a frozen lake because I know that it biologically and physically changes my body---it make my immune cells more active and the depression-causing inflammation settle down.
I do these things in the name of biohacking which allows me to overcome multiple diagnoses.
What are you willing to bio-hack to achieve your health goals?
BONUS: Here are some biohackers I love to follow
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