This is Biohacking and Here’s Why We Should Use it for Our Health
Biohacking is the latest craze among those people who want to get the maximum output from their bodies. It’s a holistic approach that looks at everything you allow your body to come into contact with. Having established that, you can look at what good things you allow into your body and what bad things you allow into your body. The idea is to put as much good into your body and keep as much bad out of it. This helps your body to function like a fine-tuned machine.
Think about your car. If you want it to run effectively and efficiently, you put the right grade of gas and oil in it. You make sure all the engine parts are working and replace those that are old or faulty. You ensure that your tires have enough tread and are inflated according to the vehicle’s specifications. And you also make sure it’s clean inside and outside. All these actions help you make sure your car is in good working order and will give you miles of smiles.
To preserve your body, you need to have the same approach. You should use the tools you have at your disposal to keep your body functioning well. This leads to a longer life expectancy and a better quality of life.
Wondering what you should do? Well, here are 20 biohacking ideas you can use to make minor alterations in your lifestyle that will have major benefits to your overall health and well-being. Try to think of others you can include in your lifestyle as well once you’re finished looking at these.
1. Determining which foods your body doesn’t like
Many of us have food intolerances and allergies. Sometimes, we don’t connect the dots between what we put into our bodies and how we react to it.
If you suspect you have an allergy, it’s best to see your doctor about it. You can have a blood test done to determine food allergies. You may be allergic to substances such as egg white without even knowing it. It can result in eczema. Allergies and intolerances can shed a lot of light on the ways your body is reacting to the food you eat.
For most food allergies, you can find substitutes in your grocery store or at a health store. Then you can incorporate these into your diet. It’s best to avoid foods you are allergic to. But remember, some allergies are more severe than others. While certain allergies will result in temporary reactions such as hives, others can be life-threatening. A peanut allergy, for example, can result in anaphylaxis. If this is not treated immediately, it can be fatal. When you avoid consuming foods you’re allergic to, it gives your immune system the capacity to fight off the ‘real’ enemies which are germs and viruses from the environment. When you keep eating these foods, your immune system is preoccupied with dealing with the body’s allergic reactions.
2. Eliminate foods your body is intolerant of
You might not be allergic to a certain food, but it’s possible your body is not able to tolerate it. We experience bloating and discomfort after a meal at an Italian restaurant, but don’t realize that what’s causing it is a gluten intolerance triggered by the pasta.
The best way to establish a food intolerance is to eliminate certain foods from your diet. You need to do this for at least four weeks. This gives the body a chance to get rid of all traces of the food you’re eliminating. Think of it as a detoxification. It also allows the inflammation a food intolerance causes to subside. After the four weeks, you can start re-introducing the food into your diet. Then you need to examine your body’s physical response to the food. If you start to experience signs and symptoms you didn’t have when you weren’t eating it, it’s a sign that your body is intolerant of that specific food.
There are common culprits when it comes to food intolerances. They include gluten, which is in any product that contains flour. Another is soy, meaning that this meat substitute must be removed from your menu. Your body may be intolerant of dairy products, so say goodbye to ice-cream and cheese among others.
3. Bid sugar farewell
This is arguably one of the toughest biohacking techniques to implement. Many of the foods we eat on a daily basis contain some sugar. The good news, however, is that you don’t have to eliminate natural sugars such as those in fruits. So, you’ll have to feed your sweet tooth some grapes, strawberries, or other fruits that will give you your sugar fix!
Added and processed sugars are the culprits that your biohacking efforts need to address. Where are they? They lurk in many products in different quantities. Examples are soft drinks, chocolate, and sweets. Devastating news, isn’t it? Unfortunately, that’s not all. Processed foods have sugar or artificial sweeteners added to them to make them taste more palatable. Read the labels on ketchup and other condiments, and you’ll be shocked by how much sugar they contain. Smooth low-fat yogurt is not a healthy option as it is loaded with sugar and artificial sweeteners.
The energy drinks we consume after a late night or as an afternoon pick-me-up are not loaded only with unhealthy amounts of caffeine. They contain an enormous amount of sugar.
It’s well worth your time to examine the labels of the foods you eat regularly. Start picking items that contain less sugar.
4. Aim to get to a sugar-free state
As far as possible, don’t just reduce the amount of processed sugar and artificial sugar you eat. Try to get to a point where you eliminate them completely. This is easier said than done but it is possible. A lot of people have a reliance on sugar that is almost like an addiction. Eliminating sugar from their diets will take a lot of willpower and self-discipline. The best way to do it is in gradual stages. Start cutting down on how much sugar you consume. Continue with this reduction process until you reach a zero-sugar state. Allow yourself the occasional sugary treat, but don’t allow the sugar addiction cycle to start again.
Why is it so important to avoid artificial sweeteners and processed sugars? Some of the answers to this question are obvious, others less so. The most observable result of cutting sugar out of your diet will be weight loss and the prevention of obesity. The other advantage is avoiding the risk of Type 2 diabetes. This condition makes excessive demands of your organs such as your pancreas, heart, and kidneys which limits their lifespan. Cutting sugar out of your diet gives you more energy. It even improves your mood stability.
5. Timing is everything
Experienced biohackers will tell you that you are what you eat, but you are also when you eat. We’ve heard the former many times, but it’s time to consider the latter. You need to review your eating patterns and determine if they’re working for you. We’re raised with the notion that we need to eat three meals a day. A good breakfast, a light lunch, and dinner as the main meal of the day are the norm. But since our bodies are unique, the way you time your meals may be unique too.
The idea of eating supper as your main meal of the day is losing popularity. This is because your body has little or no time to process and metabolize all that food. It is then stored in the body as fat, which leads to weight gain. More and more people prefer to eat lunch as their main meal. There’s plenty of time for their bodies to process the food and they get to use the energy generated by the intake of food. They then eat a lighter meal at supper time.
Some people find that eating smaller meals more frequently throughout the day is best for their bodies. It will take some experimentation, but you’ll find the right timing of meals for your body.
6. Try fasting
Intermittent fasting is ‘fast’ gaining popularity with biohackers. It is a way to control your weight. An added benefit is that it helps to normalize your body’s insulin sensitivity. An increased sensitivity to insulin may lead to Type 2 diabetes, which should be avoided at all costs.
Fasting balances out the body’s secretion of the ‘hunger hormone.’ This hormone is called ghrelin. Ghrelin tells your body when you’re hungry. If your body is secreting too much ghrelin, you’ll feel hungry all the time. That’s why it’s important to regulate your ghrelin levels. Fasting is a way to do this.
Another benefit of fasting is that it also regulates another hormone called leptin. This is a hormone that informs your brain that you’re full and don’t need to eat anymore. Too little of this hormone results in ‘eating for the sake of eating.’ Getting the quantities of this hormone balanced is vital.
Many biohackers now adopt the idea of alternate-day fasting. It’s exactly what the name suggests: you fast every second day. But on fasting days, you still eat something. You eat 25% of your normal calorie intake. On non-fasting days, you eat 100% of your normal calorie intake. Much success has been reported with this approach, so it’s worth trying.
7. Get more sleep
The amount of sleep you get has a profound effect on your body. Sleep deprivation throws all your body’s systems out of sync. For example, it can have an impact on your digestive system and the endocrine (hormone) system. It weakens your immune system. It has mental health implications as well. Sleep deprivation can lead to or worsen depression. It makes you irritable. Due to the disruption of the hormone system, it can lead to increased appetite. This, in turn, can lead to weight gain.
The suggested sleep necessary for an adult is 7-9 hours. Children need even more sleep. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you need less sleep than the recommended amount. You might cope in the short term, but it will catch up with you.
There are other risks of sleep deprivation. You may cause an accident at work or on the road which can lead to the injury or death of yourself or others. For that reason alone, you should make sure you get enough sleep.
Many people who are sleep deprived tend to use ‘aids’ to help them get through the day. The most popular is caffeine from coffee, soft drinks, or energy drinks. Others turn to addictive, illegal drugs to give them a boost.
8. Make sure you get quality sleep
It’s not only enough to make sure you get the recommended amount of sleep. You need to make sure that those 7-9 hours of sleep are quality sleep. Having enough sleep but not going into a deep sleep can leave you as sleep deprived as not getting enough sleep can.
Your body has circadian rhythms. These tell your body when it’s time to sleep. Ignore them at your peril. When you don’t follow a regular sleep pattern, your circadian rhythms are disrupted, and this affects the quality of your sleep. Night shift workers often don’t feel that they get quality sleep. The nature of their work disrupts their body’s circadian rhythms.
There are plenty of DIY hacks you can use to make sure you get quality sleep. One of the most important is to avoid electronic devices for at least 30 minutes before bed. Then keep your phone or tablet out of your bedroom. Don’t think that having them on silent is enough. Their screens light up when you get a message or alert, and this disturbs your sleep. Make sure you’re sleeping on a comfortable bed and make your room dark. Darkness stimulates sleep. Use essential oils such as lavender to help you relax before it’s time to go off to dreamland.
9. Up your fat intake
Biohackers believe that fat intake is good for your body. The keto diet encourages the consumption of fat. Many people have reported success from following the keto diet. It’s possible you may too feel the benefits from this biohacking must. The keto diet requires you to cut down on carbohydrates and sugars and increase your consumption of healthy fats.
We’re told to limit our intake of fats as they’re not healthy. This isn’t true. Not all fats are unhealthy. Coconut oil and nuts contain healthy fats. Protein-rich, low carbohydrate foods are also encouraged. These include grass-fed beef, free range eggs, and wild-caught fish. Wild-caught fish is an excellent source of healthy fats. Think salmon and tuna! On the keto diet, you also eat a lot of vegetables, but they must be of the non-starchy variety. Bid potatoes a fond farewell as they are a big no-no.
The aim of the keto diet is to get your body into a state of ketosis (hence the name). Ketosis occurs when the body is creating the bulk of energy from ketones and only a small amount of energy from carbohydrates. The way to get reach ketosis is to limit your glucose (carbohydrate) intake and increase your intake of healthy fats.
10. Meditate and find your Zen state
Meditation is good for your body and mind. This biohacking technique is a must. It may take a bit of time to get into it. Many people find it hard to sit still and clear their minds. This is because the pace of life is fast, and we’re being bombarded by information at every turn. Guided meditation may help you get into the swing of things. You can buyguided meditation CDs or download them from the internet. There are also guided meditation apps that you can access from your smartphone.
You can access different types of guided meditations. Some are good for relaxation, others for focus, and others for sleep. Most apps also give you a daily inspirational quote to keep in mind as you get through your busy day.
Meditation relaxes stiff and inflamed muscles. It reduces feelings of stress and anxiousness. It allows you to put the things going on in your life into perspective. Meditation can make you more productive as you’re more focused.
Many biohackers swear by meditation. It’s recommended that you have a set meditation schedule and stick to it. If you’re meditating at during the day, find a quiet place to do it. Otherwise, curious colleagues will disrupt your ability to focus.
11. Bare your sole
People don’t walk around barefoot enough. It can be very beneficial and is a biohacking tip you should try. It’s referred to as ‘grounding.’ And yes, it’s an actual thing! Feeling your feet standing on sand or grass is good for you. Grounding is also known as earthing. The principle on which it is based states that standing barefoot on a surface connects you with that surface.
The earth beneath us is full of natural electrical charges and energy. Using shoes as a barrier prevents us from being exposed to this energy. Standing barefoot allows this energy to course through our bodies. Grounding has been shown to help improve the quality of your sleep and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Given the fact that you need to do it outside, you’re exposed to the sunshine. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin,’ intake improves when you use grounding as a biohacking technique.
Some people have a complex about walking barefoot. It can come from many sources. One may simply be that it makes your feet a bit dirty. For others being barefoot is symbolic of poverty. Whatever the hang-up is, do your grounding in private. Walk barefoot in your garden. Walk around your home barefoot. Encourage your children to play barefoot.
12. Standing Breaks are Essential
Our sedentary lifestyle is bad for our health. Too much sitting with not enough standing is bad for your circulation. When your circulation is affected, so is your heart. This stands to reason, given that the heart drives the entire system. While sitting in a chair at the office to do our jobs is a necessary evil, biohackers have some ideas to help you.
One of the first things you should do is get rid of the chair and sit on a Pilates ball. It exercises a lot of muscles to keep you balanced. A chair exercises none of these muscles. It reduces pain and inflammation caused by tension.
Another thing you need to do is schedule ‘standing breaks.’ If it means setting an alarm on your phone, then do that. You should stand up and stretch every 60-90 minutes. The benefits increase if you add in a short walk as well. Make your walk productive. A walk to the donut shop to load up on carbohydrates doesn’t count! Walk across the office to get some water or to talk to a colleague. Take the stairs up or down to the next floor to use the bathroom. Stand up and walk around when talking on the phone.
13. Practice Yoga
Yoga is a great way to complement your meditation schedule. It is a great way to exercise a number of muscles in your body. Not only that, it helps to keep you centered and focused. The essence of yoga is injecting a sense of serenity into those who utilize it.
Now, mastering yoga is not as easy as it looks. It seems that everyone in the class is gorgeous and slim. They all look like they know what they’re doing. And there you are, huffing and puffing. Worse still, while you’re learning to master all the poses, there’s a lot of hopping around trying to keep your balance. There probably will also be a bit of falling as well!
The best way to approach it is to buy a yoga mat, block, and strap together with a DVD. Then you can try to get the basics right in the comfort of your home before you head to class. The added benefit is that you can do yoga whenever you feel like it. Otherwise, you’re constrained by the times at which lessons are conducted.
In whichever way you choose to approach it, this is one biohacking activity that can make your quality of life better.
14. Get in touch with nature
Exposure to nature is a great biohacking technique. Nature has a calming effect on the body and brain. It will de-stresses you. That’s why it’s a good idea to incorporate some form of interaction with nature into your weekly routine. One of the best ways to do this is to go outside for a walk. If you stay in an urbanized city environment, head for the park. Exposing yourself to a natural environment has many benefits.
Being outside exposes you to Vitamin D which is an essential substance our bodies cannot produce. It has to be absorbed, and sunshine is the best way to get it.
A nature setting takes us out of our comfort zone and provides different stimuli for the brain. The sights smell, and sounds of nature are very different to those from our home or office. The brain is invigorated by these different stimuli, and so is the body.
If you’re able to, try camping (not glamping, mind you) and exploring nature as often as you can. Getting in touch with nature will make you feel more relaxed. It gives you time to process the stresses of the week that has passed. It also gives you the opportunity to focus on what is to come. And it’s a great family bonding activity too.
15. Minimize your exposure to harmful substances
When you live in a city or town that thrives on manufacturing, there is always pollution in the air. It can lead to allergic reactions such as sinusitis, eczema, or asthma. Pollution is inevitable, and since you can’t live in a bubble, you will be exposed to it. But limit its effects on you by using salt water to clear your nasal passages and disinfect your throat. Always wash your body thoroughly to rid your skin of any pollutants it has been exposed to.
In many places around the world, people wear masks to limit their exposure to pollution as they go about their daily lives. This is not a bad idea at all. It can help your body by reducing how much time your immune system spends trying to combat all the pollutants you are exposed to.
If you know that dust and grass affect your body negatively, wear a mask when mowing the lawn. But do mow the lawn, it’s excellent exercise! Use a mask when you’re exposed to smoke from fires.
If your job is in a hazardous environment, use all the safety equipment you can to prevent exposure. Campaign for more equipment if you feel that what you’re supplied with is not adequate.
16. Biohacking with nootropics
Nootropics are substances that boost your cognitive functioning. This is your ability to think, act, make decisions, and be productive. Who wouldn’t want to take such a substance at the beginning of the day and keep themselves on point at work? It’ll impress your boss and make you the envy of your colleagues.
But here’s a word of caution. There are two main types of nootropics. Some are supplements, and others are drugs. Natural supplements that you can use as nootropics include turmeric and Vitamin D.
Turmeric is a natural anti-depressant which enhances your mood. It works as a natural method of pain relief which is great for tense shoulder and neck muscles. It’s a powerful detoxification tool which rids the body of unwanted and unnecessary substances. Before you try it, research the benefits and potential side effects to avoid unwelcome surprises.
Vitamin D supplements are great nootropics as they also combat depression and can help to lower your blood pressure. Raised blood pressure often comes from stress. It also combats insomnia to help you get good quality sleep.
Other nootropics require a prescription. They include amphetamines and eugeroics. These may be addictive and wind up lowering your quality of life instead of improving it.
It sounds super-complicated, but neurofeedback is a relatively simple concept. It involves retraining your brain so that you react differently to situations. It helps you to process your emotions more rationally. The neural pathways in your brain determine how you react. But they are not like highways that cannot be moved. It’s possible to reconstruct the neural pathways so that they follow different routes and help you to function better on a cognitive level.
A lot of people use EEG monitoring to retrain their brains. They wear an EEG monitor and then are exposed to stimuli. Their reactions are tracked by the EEG machine. They can see if their reaction is favorable or unfavorable. Then they can set about changing their responses to be more favorable. It’s not necessary to go as far as using an EEG machine. You can see the results of neurofeedback in the way you respond to situations after consciously training your brain to respond favorably.
Biohackers believe that neurofeedback and retraining the brain reduces stress as it forces you to cope better with external factors such as stress. Teaching your brain to think in a fight, flight, or fright situation helps you to process your feelings and respond more rationally. Biohackers also believe it can stimulate your creativity.
18. Heart rate variability
It’s easy to get an app on your smartphone that measures your heart rate. Your heart rate remains steady when you’re not under stress. But the minute you exercise, it increases. The minute you’re exposed to stress or anxiety, it increases.
The increases caused by exercise are positive. They stimulate the release of endorphins and serotonin which induces a feeling of happiness and euphoria.
Increases to your heart rate brought on by stress and anxiety are bad. They put you in that fight, flight, or fright position. The body releases more cortisol. This is referred to as the ‘stress hormone.’ A constant demand for cortisol can affect the functionality of the endocrine system.
When your heart rate goes up, your heart is working harder than normal. Making such demands of your heart indefinitely can affect its lifespan. But it’s possible to learn how to slow your heart rate when you feel stressed or anxious. This is a biohacking essential. Deep breathing is a way to do it. But you need to learn to breathe diaphragmatically. This means training yourself to breathe through your diaphragm and not through your lungs. It’s quite easy to do, and there are lots of videos online demonstrating how to do it.
19. Inversion therapy
Well, if it works for Batman, why shouldn’t it work for you? Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down. This forces an increase in blood supply to the brain. Biohackers believe that this improves mental capacity and performance. The increased blood supply to the brain means an increased oxygen supply to the brain. Increased oxygen promotes increased brain function.
It’s not a good idea to go and hang upside down on the jungle gym at your local park as a DIY inversion therapy! You’ll probably scare the kids away and endure a visit from the police!
If you want to try inversion therapy, it needs to be done on an inversion table. This is a piece of equipment designed especially for the job. If you buy one, don’t do inversion therapy alone. You don’t want to get stuck hanging upside down and unable to get back up again. When you start, spend 1-2 minutes upside down. You can gradually increase the time you spend in the inverted position. However, experts explain that it’s not about how much time you spend hanging upside down that has the benefits. It’s about how frequently you do it. Inversion therapy is also good for tense back and neck muscles.
20. Biohacking your workout routine
We know that exercise is good for you. It released endorphins and serotonin and gives you that post-workout ‘high.’ It’s good for your heart and muscles as well. And it helps you to lose weight.
You can apply biohacking to your workout routine as well. It involves a lot of effort to get it right. You need to track how often you work out, what times you work out, and what exercises you do in each workout session. This allows you to figure out the optimal time to work out and how often you need to work out. Tracking your exercises helps you to determine which exercises are the most beneficial for your body.
This biohacking method means that you have to experiment a lot with your workout routine to calculate what works for you and your body. Then you can determine an exact workout schedule and routine, so you can make the most of the time you spend exercising. You might come up with a variety of workouts which you can rotate so that your routine doesn’t become too repetitive and boring.
Always remember to include breathing exercises in your workout routine. It’s essential to supply your muscles with enough oxygen when exercising to prevent injury.