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Unless you’re engrossed in the tech/science or health world, you may not have heard of the term ‘biohacking’. But I am almost certain that in the next few years it will be much more mainstream, emerging from its origins in Silicon Valley. It is the buzzword within these science and technology, anti-ageing, health and wellness communities.
Can be defined as the science of changing the environment around you and inside of you so you have full control of your own body. The attempt to manipulate your brain and body to optimise performance, feel better — and to see just how far we can push the human body.
The pioneer of bio-hacking, Dave Asprey, NYT’s best selling science author and founder of the bulletproof diet, and coffee, plans to live until at least age 180. He claims:
“if you want to lose 100 pounds the way I did, you want to make your brain work better, you want to get higher quality but less sleep, you want to have tonnes of energy at the end of the day, you want to be a better painter, a better athlete, better human being. It doesn’t matter. It is your energy, your biology, you can do whatever you want”
With a sentiment like that, it is hard to not want to get involved, at least on some level.
Biohacking has followers who have illnesses and are seeking alternative methods of treatment, or those who want to get the most out of their brains and bodies, and some who even have the urge to defy medical death and prevent disease/illnesses.
Millionaire, Serge Faguet, has those plans of immortality, stating “People here [in Silicon Valley] have a technical mindset, so they think of everything as an engineering problem. A lot of people who are not of a technical mindset assume that, ‘Hey, people have always been dying,’ but I think there’s going to be a greater level of awareness [of biohacking] once results start to happen.”
Other millionaires/billionaires who are fans of biohacking include Tony Robbins, Jack Dorsey and Elon Musk.
Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey, for instance is a known advocate who likes to manipulate his diet in particular. He plays with fasting, only eating one meal a day and often taking part in prolonged fasting periods.
But biohacking is still accessible to those without expendable money. It has also gained traction with amateurs who are now performing DIY biology experiments on themselves, ranging on all levels from minor to extreme, and collecting the data to share.
* It is important to note that a lot of these claims are made by the biohackers. Whilst the mainstream section below has a lot of evidence (that we have explored in previous blogs), the rest is fairly new material which is yet to have enough significant supporting evidence. We are going to be only looking at the claims today. *
SO, let's look at some of these practices by levels of extreme:
In all the research on the topic of biohacking, these were the common factors all followers seemed to find (at base-level) the most essential. The good news is that they're easy to apply, and are believed to extend and improve your quality of life!
#1 Sleep better- Firstly, go to bed by 10 pm, make sure the room is DARK, and try to maintain a regular sleeping pattern. Next, stop looking at screens at least an hour before bed and if you must go to the bathroom during the night do not look at your phone or turn on any lights!
#2 Exercise more- Walk and move as much as you can and keep that heart happy. We were not designed to be sedentary or sat in front of computers all day. Exercise in ways you enjoy that don't overstress your body, regularly and consistently. Practice yoga or stretching, and foam roll for optimal muscle recovery and posture.
#3 Eat better- How we eat is just as important as what. Eat slowly and mindfully, and chew your food well, as this aids in digestion. We all should know this- less processed food, more plants. We have spoken about this before. Consider intermittent fasting- even just 12-14 hours has benefits.
#4 Stress less- We speak about this all the time in our blogs. Biohackers are big on Vipassana meditation and breathing techniques to combat stress. There are also a few that follow gratitude practises believing that taking time to simply be grateful can decrease stress.
#5 Help your brain function optimally- Increase energy, recovery, focus and clarity. Popular methods are cold showers (especially directed on your face and chest), frequent saunas, and blue-light blocking glasses whilst in front of a screen.
#6 Consider supplements- These really elevate everything mentioned above on another level! There are many on the market that have anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties, and this includes nootropics “smart drugs” which are gaining popularity (we have a blog on this coming soon!)
#1 Infrared/ red light therapy - followers claim that our bodies/ brains require light to function adequately. This therapy of red light directed on parts of your face/body is claimed to help with skin, wounds, and health. Some spas are already offering this therapy.
#2 Cold exposure - we spoke about this in our last blog, in terms of ice baths (which rose to fame through the Wim Hoff Method) which require sitting in a bath filled with ice for 2 minutes + or cryotherapy, which is standing in a freezing temperature for a few minutes with minimal clothing on. There are many claimed benefit for mental health and energy in these methods.
#3 Float tanks - Locations around the UK are popping up with tanks that you lay within that look like a spa pod that is completely dark and filled with skin-temperature saltwater. The experience is claimed to be a great stress/depression reliever.
#4 Ketogenic diet - we are sure you have heard about the keto diet. It has become mainstream in the past years, many choosing to implement it in their own diets without medical supervision. Despite disapproval from medical practitioners it has gained mass-popularity. A keto diet is a very high fat, moderate protein, low carb diet with 75% of your daily nutrients coming from fats, 20% protein and 5% carbs.
The more radical version of biohacking exists amongst those who are interested (or obsessed) with Artificial Intelligence/ robotics, and just how they will affect humankind, and also amongst those who will try just about anything to avoid ageing.
Some of these practices include:
It probably comes as no surprise that biohacking is in a legal grey zone. Regulators are attempting to catch up and keep up with all the new practices surfacing. It is hard to predict the future of biohacking, but if it remains safe, more science surfaces, and it helps with longevity and health, then we are all for it!
Here are some projects in motion...
Elon Musk stands by his view that humans need to become cyborgs to survive the revolution of robots. He has a company called Neuralink releasing next July which seeks to merge computers (and their intelligence) with humans.
Bill Maris is another one who is obsessed with immortality. He is the founder of Google Ventures and afterwards went on to create a company called Calico (California Life Company) who hopes to "achieve something that others may not believe possible".
Gerontologist, Aubrey de Grey claims people will be able to live to age 1,000. He is developing ways to repair cellular and molecular damage caused by ageing. Methuselah Foundation is his nonprofit startup and has had millions in investments already with a mission to “make 90 the new 50 by 2030.”
But not all of these future ventures seem as crazy or far-fetched. For instance, I am sure it will please most to read that biohackers have created a supposed way to avoid hangovers for light to moderate drinkers. A start-up company CUUR created a supplement that targets the effects of drinking. It is to be filled with adaptogens and nootropics to alleviate those pesky post-drinking symptoms.
Shani Kaplan is a contributing writer for Truth Naturals. She combines her knowledge gained from working within the fitness/wellness industry in Sydney and London for the last seven years as a Personal Trainer, and class instructor, with her addiction to research due to her BA in Business Marketing. Shani loves martial arts, resistance training, dance and yoga, nutrition, travel, design, photography, and art.