You may have heard about biohacking and it may have left you feeling like it was way too futuristic and something you’d never do yourself. But biohacking isn’t all about self-installed implants and gene-sequencing from your secret basement lab. In fact, many folks like you and me are already biohacking to some degree and don’t realize it. Preposterous? Let’s explore this idea, grasshopper!
What is Biohacking?
Biohacking doesn’t have to be as extreme as we sometimes see it portrayed. Biohacking in its simplest form is merely tracking and manipulating the performance of your body and brain for certain goals.
Maybe you’re an athlete and you want to give yourself every advantage to win Tough Mudder this year. Perhaps you want to kick your chronic migraines to the curb. You might even use biohacking to outrun genetic dispositions toward certain conditions or diseases. These are some very good examples of common reasons you may become interested in biohacking.
There are a couple of types of biohacking that
In nutrigenomics, the goal is to manipulate your diet to:
- Outrun genetic dispositions to certain conditions or diseases
- Achieve physical, cognitive, or emotional changes such as fighting chronic pain or depression
- Optimize the way your body works such as blood pressure or your gut biome
Your mileage may vary with both nootropics and nutrigenomics because we are all different. For example, I will have different genetic predispositions than you and will respond differently to exercise, stress levels, and the amount of weight I’m carrying. Biohacking is utterly customizable for your body and your goals.
Wait, I’m Biohacking Already?
It’s a safe bet that you’re probably doing something that falls into the realm of biohacking. For instance, I’ve been into biohacking since before it was much of a thing.
I started the practice due to a bad hip and subsequent chronic depression that arose, in large part, from chronic pain. Being prone to side effects meant I couldn’t take traditional pain medications. Where was I to turn? Biohacking! After significant research, I found ways within my control that could significantly improve my hip pain.
The way I found was exercise. Certain exercises strengthened supporting areas, and that left me with less pain. The pain relief wasn’t immediate, but a few days later. Pain now, relief later. For blessed relief, I was totally willing to spit-shake on that deal.
Due to a torn labrum in a hip I had surgery on as a baby, I was barely getting around. I limped wherever I went. At one point, it was so bad, I was using a walker for certain things around the house.
Within just a few weeks, I wasn’t limping anymore. The pain had lessened enough that I could sleep a little better. The improvements kept coming until I could actually climb stairs. As long as I keep up the exercise, I can keep the pain at bay.
The next challenge was hacking my depression. My house looked like a bomb hit it. All my plants were dead. I had crying jags that would last an entire day, and even thinking about crying would start me up all over again. My mother died of liver disease and I became obsessed with all the ways I was going to die a miserable death.
I learned that some think depression starts in the gut and that it may be the gut-brain that informs the head-brain instead of the other way around. So, I started cleaning up my microbiome and saw my first progress. I learned that fennel tea calms the gut and I saw more progress.
Then I learned of ashwagandha through some research I was doing. I considered it a “cheap experiment.” Guess what? Ashwagandha shut down a crying jag within 10 minutes of swallowing it. I felt neutral; calm. It was as if the waters inside me were finally still rather than moving in huge waves. When I went to sleep that night, I didn’t spend three hours telling myself all the ways I could possibly die before morning. I just went to sleep.
Now, there are many more ways I hack my biology, but make no mistake… those were all hacks. Maybe you have found yourself in similar situations and have found your own hacks to carry you through your day. It could be that you’re in the research phase of your search for hacks.
If you are doing anything like I was, you are biohacking. See? Nothing crazy, nothing extreme. I call it mainstream biohacking: approachable biohacking for the average Joe or Jane who just wants to find relief or make their life better.
Are you always looking for something you can eat or take or do to beat those migraines, lessen that belly bloat, get off of diabetes medication, or make your back pain more manageable? You are looking for biohacks, my friend. Welcome to the fold.
Easy Ways to Do More
Biohacking can be as simple as tracking your sleep or heart rate with your Fitbit or Apple Watch. Do you have one of those or a similar device? It can be as simple as taking a nootropic supplement every day to manage symptoms or increase your focus and attention. Biohacking can even be the cup of coffee you drink every morning to clear away the fog of sleep. Maybe you go for a run every day to manage your stress. Biohacking can be all of these things and more.
Some popular, basic biohacks are as follows:
- Fix your posture, whether with a wearable device or simply being mindful of it
- Improve your diet by cutting out processed foods, unhealthy fats, and sugar
- Find more excuses to get out into nature
- Change your mind by increasing your tolerance to things that make you uncomfortable
- Start a gratitude practice and see how this “rewires” your brain
- Try some brainwave entrainment, especially if you have concentration or sleep problems
- Learn how to find your sweet spot in life and work where you are in “flow”
- Try meditation to release stress and find that place where you can be still
You have probably seen yourself in at least some of this, in the things you do to feel better or do better. You might have problems you’re trying to solve for which you can’t find answers elsewhere. Maybe medicine has failed you, and you are determined to find an answer for yourself. So, you see, biohacking is a life raft for the common person. It’s within your power to do and it’s not as crazy as perhaps you first thought.
Now you have search terms and more to start your own research for things that will make your life better and help you achieve your goals. What problems are you working on and how can I help? If you think I might be able to help you begin your biohacking journey, or point you in the right direction, drop me a note down in the comments!