If you regularly (or even intermittently) read or listen to any health, wellness, or fitness magazines, blogs, or podcasts you’ve probably come across the term ‘biohacking’ once or twice.
You’ve also probably engaged in some of your own rudimentary biohacking experiments, whether you realized it or not. Anytime we make tweaks to our dietary, supplement, or exercise routines in order to feel better, sleep more soundly, or improve the quality of our workouts we are actively engaging in biohacking.
So what exactly is biohacking?
As one of the best known biohackers, Dave Asprey of Bulletproof, might define it, biohacking is taking a systematic approach to alter our individual biology or psychology in order to improve our own health and wellbeing.
This might include modifying our diets in order to lose or gain weight, reduce body fat, or increase muscle mass. For example, when we adopt a particular dietary approach, such as going Paleo/Primal, eating a ketogenic diet, or eschewing meat by going vegetarian or vegan – and systematically track our progress using a scale, tape measure, or even how well our ‘skinny jeans’ fit – we are engaging in biohacking.
The same thing is true when we add a new dietary supplement to the ever growing pile of pills we take in the morning, when we begin a new workout routine like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or Crossfit, when we start meditating and practicing mindfulness, or when we use wearable devices like a Fitbit to measure the quality of our workouts and the duration of our sleep. Each time, we are using different practices, products, and technologies to change our physical, emotional, and mental states. Through a process of trial and error (e.g. determining whether or not eliminating all caffeinated beverages after noon will help to alleviate our frequent insomnia), we are incrementally and systematically working to optimize our own health.
Of course, there are some more extreme biohacks that people try. These include the use of nootropics or psychedelics, biofeedback and neurofeedback, cryotherapy and cold-thermogenesis, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), direct implantation of electronic devices like biochips into the skin, and even do-it-yourself genetic modification.
Many of these more extreme biohacks are legal but some are not, most are commercially available but a few can only be obtained through the grey or black market, and some are grounded in sound science while others are pure science fiction. Some of the more interesting biohackers and their increasingly outlandish experiments can be found here.
Obviously, my favorite biohacks are living a primal lifestyle and eating a largely ketogenic diet. Over the next couple of months, however, I plan to engage in a number of new (and relatively sane) biohacking experiments and share the results here.
Stay tuned …