Guide to Biohacking
The Beginner’s Guide to Biohacking: Why You Should Do It and the Best Biohacks
Biohacking is what you get when you combine biology with hacking. It’s a way for individuals to effectively “hack” their bodies to achieve certain goals.
Sometimes, this hack is as simple as taking a nootropic supplement every day to boost your cognitive ability.
Other more advanced methods of biohacking include installing a do-it-yourself body enhancement. In some cases, biohacking refers to scientists researching genetic sequencing to identify genes with the most positive qualities.
Biohacking is a term that few people have heard of. However, as modern technology grows, biohacking is bound to become more and more popular.
Today, in our beginner’s guide to biohacking, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about the exciting world of biohacking.
What Is Biohacking?
Biohacking is the practice of managing your own biology using medical, nutritional, physical, or electronic techniques. Some of the most popular methods of biohacking include:
— Taking A Nootropic To Improve Focus, Memory, And Intelligence
— Using A Cybernetic Device To Record Biometric Data (a Fitbit, For Example, Is A Basic Form Of Biohacking)
— Installing Do-it-yourself Body Improvements, Like Magnetic Implants
— Performing Advanced Gene Sequencing Research In Labs Or At-home
Ultimately, biohacking is a systems-based approach to managing your body. It is based largely on the concept that what we put into our bodies has a huge impact on how we feel. If we want better “outputs” from our systems (like reduced diseases, better memory, better focus, and superior athletic performance), then we need to improve our inputs.
Where Did Biohacking Come From?
Since the beginning of time, humans have always wanted to improve their bodies. It’s one of the central parts of being human.
Biohacking arose out of that idea: a constant desire to improve our brain power, physical ability, and overall human strength.
At the same time, biohacking also has roots in the “biopunk” and “transhumanist” ideologies.
Biopunk revolves around the belief that anyone should be able to access genetic information, and that gene sequencing research should be a democratic process.
Transhumanism, similarly, is the belief that it’s in humanity’s best interest to improve the human condition using modern technology in order to create a superior “post-human” being.
Some people call them cyborgs. Other people just see it as a natural extension of modern technology. In any case, humans have been dreaming about improving their bodies since the beginning of time. Thanks to recent advances in technology, it’s now easier to do that than ever before.
Biohacking is More Popular Today than Ever Before
Biohacking might sound like some nerdy fantasy dreamed up by people who play BioShock and watch superhero movies. But it’s a legitimate, full-grown phenomenon which has conferences taking place around the world.
In 2014, the Bulletproof Biohacking Conference was described as a “health-focused amusement park of the future.” Exhibits include ARX Fit workout machines, nutrient injection stations, an oxygen bar, a Bulletproof Coffee bar, and vibration plates, among many others.
At this conference, a total of 35 biohacking experts came to speak. These biohacking experts included psychologists who specialized in memory, dieticians who specialized in biohacking nutrition, and even a noted brain doctor named Dr. Daniel Amen.
7 Steps To Biohacking
Biohacking is easier than you think. There are countless guides online explaining some of the basic things you can do each day to start biohacking.
At the most recent Bulletproof Biohacking Conference, researchers outlined the top 7 best ways to start biohacking today.
Step 1) Improve Your Posture
Right, you’re probably sitting in a computer chair leaning forward with your left hand on your face. Or you’re in bed looking up at a smartphone screen above your head, or craning your neck down low to see a tablet on your lap when you’re watching TV.
The point is: most of us have poor posture. And most of us never do anything about it.
That’s bad. Poor posture leads to chronic injuries and pain in the future. You might not feel it today, or even 10 years from now, but when you’re old, all that poor posture is going to come back to haunt you.
Fortunately, fixing your poor posture is easy. Here are some tips the experts recommend.
Stabilize your spine when standing or sitting:
Step 1) Squeeze Your Butt Muscles
Step 2) Exhale And Pull Down Your Rib Cage
Step 3) Engage Your Abs 20%
Step 4) Set Your Head In A Neutral Position, Placing Your Ears In Line With Your Shoulders
You can do this while standing or sitting, although it tends to be uncomfortable for long periods of time in an office chair.
If you’re looking for a long-term way to sit comfortably (and safely) in an office chair, then consider sitting either cross-legged or in a butt-to-ground squat. Yes, you’re going to look very silly if you do this in an office full of people, but you’ll have the last laugh when all your coworkers are old, grey, and crippled with debilitating injuries.
Other posture biohacking tips include:
— Spend ten minutes foam rolling each day. Buy a foam roll and look online for foam roll exercises.
— Maintain a neutral spine position, like by following the four step sequence above
— Reset your posture every hour by following the four step sequence above (set a timer?)
— Punch friends in the gut when they’re not engaging their abs. Pretty soon, all your friends will have hardened abs, better posture, and will flinch every time you raise your arms.
You know how when you sit for long periods of time, you feel stiff and sore when you get back up?
We’re not supposed to feel that pain. You can use the tips listed above to alleviate your pain and improve posture.
Step 2) Improve Your Nutrition
Nutrition, like posture, is an area where most of us could improve.
Let’s face it: it takes a lot of work (and money) to eat your recommended dose of fruits and vegetables every day. And coffee is so delicious, how could you not drink 5 cups of it every day?
Oh, and I’m not going to skip Friday and Saturday drinks at the bar, of course.
Biohacking involves controlling your nutrition to some extent. I’m not saying you have to go cold turkey on alcohol and coffee. But biohacking advocates recommend switching to something called the Bulletproof diet.
Named after the same Bulletproof Biohacking conference listed above, the Bulletproof diet involves reducing your intake of processed foods, eliminating sugar and gluten, and limiting fruit consumption. Here are the most important things to remember about the diet:
— Eliminate Sugar, Gluten, Synthetic Additives, Colorings, And Flavorings
— Replace Sugars With Healthy Fats, Like Coconut Oil Or Grass-fed Butter
— Eliminate Grains, Grain-derived Oils, And Vegetables Oils
— Eliminate Legumes, Including Peanuts, Beans, And Lentils
— Start Eating Grass-fed Meat And Wild-caught Seafood. Pastured Eggs, Pork, Chickens, Turkeys, And Ducks Are All Popular.
— Switch To Organic Fruits And Vegetables, But Don’t Consume More Than 1-2 Servings Of Fruit Per Day.
— Cook Food Gently (or Better, Not At All)
— Try To Maintain A Diet Of 50% To 80% Fat, 5% To 30% Carbohydrates, And 10% To 30% Protein
— “Cheating” On Your Diet For A Day Doesn’t Make You A Failure. Instead, Dieters Need To Recognize That The Less They Adhere To The Diet, The Less They Will Benefit From The Diet.
Of course, you don’t have to use the Bulletproof diet. That’s just one of many options available to you. Everybody has an opinion on how to achieve the best “biohacking” diet for cognitive and physical performance.
One of the most important things you can do to start biohacking your diet, however, is to test yourself for food sensitivities, and then stop eating those foods. Many of us regularly consume foods our bodies cannot process, and this leads to stress on our bodies. You can test food sensitivities with an alcat test or by checking your heart rate after eating certain foods.
Step 3) Be One With Nature
Our bodies were built to be outdoors. For hundreds of thousands of years, humans basically “camped” from birth to death. They never settled down in an area and they depended on nature to provide food and shelter.
One of the main tenants of biohacking is to improve your connection with nature. No, that doesn’t mean you should go pitch a tent in a city park and sell your home.
Instead, it means you should try to interact with nature more regularly in your daily lifestyle.
One of the best examples from the recent Bulletproof Biohacking conference was given by Daniel Vitalis.
Vitalis talked about how every dog in the world today – from Chihuahuas to Great Danes – are descendants of the Gray Wolf. In other words, that puppy curled up on your lap ready for a cuddle had a great-great-great-great grandfather that would kill you for trying to pet it.
The puppy doesn’t kill you because we’ve domesticated our animals over generations to treat humans as friends and live a comfortable, indoor lifestyle.
Modern humans are like the puppy: we’ve treated ourselves to generations and generations of comfortable, indoor living. That’s great for being lazy, but not so great for being mentally and physically active.
We need to “rewild” ourselves with the natural world to achieve major biohacking benefits. Vitalis outlined four simple things you can do to be more attuned with nature:
1) Eat Wild Foods
Hunt and gather your foods. Pluck broccoli, asparagus, and mushrooms from the ground. Cut off a chicken’s leg and eat it. Forage, hunt, and do what ancient peoples did to survive.
2) Drink Unprocessed Spring Water
Unless you live in a small village or on a well system, the water you drink is heavily processed. City tap water is heavily processed, and bottled water is even more so. Minerals are removed and chemicals are added. Biohacking advocates recommend finding a natural spring near you and drinking that pure water instead of tap water.
Think finding a spring near you is difficult? At FindASpring.com, somebody has crowdsourced the process of finding a spring near virtually every major city in North America.
3) Breathe Fresh Air in Nature
If you live in a big city, then the air you breathe is slowly killing you. Cars are putting toxic chemicals into the air, and all those trace elements add up over long periods of time. The air in your home may be stale and moldy. To fix this problem, go outside. Take a hike. Go camping. Breathe deeply and enjoy nature’s fresh air.
4) Enjoy Natural Sunlight
Sunlight is more than just a pretty thing to see: it’s a critical part of our body’s chemistry. Sunlight regulates our sleep cycles and provides valuable energy. Go outside and expose your skin to the warm rays of the sun.
Step 4) Change Your Perspective
One of the highlights of the Bulletproof Biohacking Conference was when Joe De Sena, the creator of the Spartan Races, came on stage and explained why we need to change our frame of reference.
Joe De Sena explained how modern humans have high expectations and low tolerance levels. We expect a lot out of ourselves and our environments, but can tolerate very little pain or discomfort.
Here’s one good example: when immigrants arrived in America 200 years ago, they were just happy to be here, even if they didn’t have a penny to their names. When your Wi-Fi goes down at home, you start to cry (or at least I do).
Joe De Sena recommended fixing this problem with the following activities:
— Taking A Spartan Race
— Taking A Cold Shower
— Be Homeless (Seriously, This Was One Of The Recommendations)
— Contemplate Death By Reading Seneca Or Marcus Aurelius
— Undergo Rejection Therapy, Which Is A “Social Self-help Game” Where Your Goal Is To Be Rejected By Other People, Which Ultimately Builds Stress And Confidence
— Increase Your Awareness Through Meditation
Together, these exercises help you change your perspective and build tolerance. Instead of whining about the little things in life, you’ll feel gratitude for things you previously took for granted.
Step 5) Use Music for Biohacking
Music is one of the most powerful biohacking mechanisms available today. If you’re having trouble focusing on work, try putting on a pair of headphones and listening to instrumental rock or electronic music.
On a higher level, you can actually enter a meditative trance using something called “audio brainwave entrainment”. Check out Brainwaive.fm, for example, or FocusAtWill.com, to see what I’m talking about.
Using music for biohacking relies on the concept that music actually changes our brainwaves through a process called Frequency Following Response.
Here’s a basic explanation of how brainwaves work:
— Beta (14 to 30 Hz): We’re awake and concentrating and we spend most of the day here.
— Alpha (8 to 14 Hz): Meditative state, the twilight state between sleep and awake, improved memory recall, awake and relaxed.
— Theta (4 to 8 Hz): Light dreaming and access to the unconscious mind.
— Delta (0.1 to 4 Hz): Deep, dreamless sleep with complete less of awareness, restorative healing powers.
Our brains work differently when we hear smooth jazz music compared to heavy-hitting rock music. Find music that works for you and puts you in the optimal state of mind.
Step 6) Hack Your “Flow”
“Flow” may be one of the biggest buzzwords in the biohacking world. Biohackers love to talk about “flow” and “flow state”.
Flow is generally described as the “optimal state of consciousness where we feel and perform at our best.” During that state, time slows down, we forget ourselves and our problems, and we perform at our peak levels of physical and mental performance.
Athletes call it being “in the zone”, but most of us have experienced flow at some point or another.
You can read 17 “triggers” for entering the flow from this slideshow here. That slideshow includes tips like giving yourself clear goals, optimizing focus, and balancing the “challenge/skills” ratio of everyday tasks.
Step 7) Implement Other Biohacking Tips and Tricks
You don’t have to look far online to find other biohacking tips and tricks designed to make you a better human being.
Here are some of the most popular tips and tricks:
— Start a gratitude journal, where you list the three things you are grateful for every night
— Write a 300 word letter to someone important to you, then read it out loud to them or take them for a coffee
— Go on a “gratitude walk”, where you feel gratitude for everything you see and experience during the walk.
— Use the “FAST” learning technique, which involves:
Forget: Forget your preconceptions
Active: Read actively and participate in the demos
State: Feel the excitement and curiosity to learn. Sit up and lean forward in class or at a conference.
Teach: Learn new material as if you’re about to teach it to other people.
— Try taking a nootropic supplement
Conclusion: Who Can Benefit Most from Biohacking?
When you tell somebody they can take simple steps to improve their body, mind, and overall ability, it sounds enticing. I mean, who doesn’t want to do that?
People who can benefit the most from biohacking include:
— People Who Feel Like They Have Underachieved In Life
— Anyone Who Has Trouble Concentrating, Especially On Difficult Tasks At Work Or School
— Those Who Feel Unhealthy And Are Ready To Make A Positive Change
— Anyone Who Wants To Become A Better Human Being
Biohacking is an interesting concept and we’re only beginning to see its full potential. Yes, companies like Bulletproof are trying to make millions from the industry by selling advanced coffee formulas and diet books, among other products. But you don’t have to purchase any of those things.
Whether you’re starting the “Bulletproof lifestyle” or just wanting to make small changes in your life to become a better human being, biohacking is a powerful way to achieve your life goals.
Want to try biohacking for the first time? Try adopting one of the tips listed above for 7 days in a row. Instead of going “all out” and trying to implement every single one, just pick one and work at it.
Gradually add more. Before you know it, you’ll be living a superior lifestyle.
There seems to be an awful lot of quacks at these “Biohacking” conferences, who would be right at home in a alternative medicine/homeopathy conference. I thought Biohacking would be more scientific but reading this it sounds like weird spiritual cult stuff.
Yea, the person who wrote this article seemed to be making some of this stuff up.
A stumble upon a website called “Dangerous Things” sparked my curiosity of bio hacking but what you speak about seems a lot more “realistic” (for lack of a better term) than the ideas that website was putting into my head. Thanks for the detailed clarification.