Bio-hacking: where to start and what to hack
11 months ago by André Giæver
Bio-hacking may be defined as the exercise of hacking your biological properties. In short, altering the biology of your body and brain through nutrition, exercise and routines.
Now, why would we want to do this?
One reason would be to stretch our imagination regarding our perceived potential for brain and body capability. Another may well be to harness and expand our full potential.
Longevity and quality of life.
Whatever the reason, bio-hacking has become quite popular the last decade, all the while it’s been an integrated part of training athletes and martial arts for centuries.
Assess your current state
You need to establish a baseline from which you can start to progress. This means testing yourself in various ways. Some test can be done cheap and noninvasive. Others are more costly an involve a medical physician.
One of the first things you need to assess your level of commitment. This will set both the pace and craziness you need to endure. Yes, some stuff in this article will sound far out for some of you.
Types of bio-hacking
For the sake of this article, I’ve divided the subject of bio-hacking into these categories:
Nutrition should be quite obvious. Everything you eat an drink has a profound effect on both body and mind.
Supplements are substances you can add to complete or enhance our nutritional intake. These include vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, herbs and spices.
Physical movement includes all kinds of, but not limited to, exercise. Walking counts.
Activities are routines or habits that have a physical or mental effect. Cold showers or meditation are such activities.
The environment you live in challenges you constantly. Simple steps can be taken to ease these environmental stress factors.
A word of caution before we begin. As some of this hack will put both mental and physical strain on your body, proceed with caution and abort any hack that makes you feel sick. Consult your primary physician whenever you’re unsure if any of the hacks might cause you harm.
Ok then, let’s get bio-hacking!
1st law of bio-hacking:
What you eat triumphs all else
Or rather what you don’t eat. Food and water provide all the nutritional building blocks necessary for growth and restoration.
Building your body on empty calories is equivalent to building your house with brick-painted styrofoam blocks. It might look okay, but you wouldn’t want to live there, right?
To that end, junk food can be divided into two segments; “not healthy food” and “unhealthy hood”.
The difference between these to distinctions is that “not healthy food” simply lacks the positive nutrients that “healthy food” includes. “Unhealthy food” on the other hand is harmful and breaks down your brain and body.
Whatever diet you choose, make an intentional choice. Take the time to learn at least the basics of nutrition and avoid sugar and trans fat to begin with.
- Try the Keto diet for 2 weeks
- Avoid alcohol for 1 month
- Try intermittent fasting for 1 month
2nd law of bio-hacking:
Without movement, there’s no progress
There are several different types of movement and they’re all beneficial in their own way. The important thing is to do a variation of the to get the optimal effect.
Cardiovascular training like running or aerobics is great for better blood flow. Even brisk walking counts.
This is a huge deal for your entire body and helps lift cognitive function. It also strengthens your heart and uptake of oxygen.
It’s also linked to mitochondrial regeneration. This means that the strain or running tells your body to build new mitochondria and discard old and damaged ones.
Mitochondria are your cell’s powerplants. More of them essentially means more energy for you to utilize.
Functional movement like yoga or table tennis is good for core strength and agility.
Besides the positive effects of getting more flexible, cross-functional movement that yoga entails helps build stronger neuro pathways between the left en right side of the brain.
Resistance training is good for core strength and aids cardiovascular exercises such as running. Best of all, it doesn’t even have to be time consuming. Intensity trumps repetition.
With resistance training, you essential stress your body to endure more. It’s essentially short term pain for long term gain.
Mental movement is all about triggering cognitive activity. Both crossword puzzles, meditation and any type of mind games fall into this category.
- Walk (or run) everyday for 20 minutes.
- Try yoga.
- Challenge your mind with 15 minute of puzzles every day.
3rd law of bio-hacking:
Supply by demand
Supplements are essential to push you beyond your current limits. Food is the essential first step. Adding supplements to your diet is the crucial next step.
Supplements come in all shapes and sizes. Most commonly as vitamins and minerals. Stacking up to supply your body and mind an adequate and balanced amount of essential vitamins, minerals and omega 3 fatty acids is a game changer for bio-hacking. Here’s how I would categorize supplements.
Note! Before taking any kind of supplements, consult with a medical physician to measure your current levels. Taking too much of the wrong thing can have serious consequences.
There are 13 vitamins: vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and the B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate). — You can get all your vitamins from the foods you eat, but your body also makes vitamins D and K.
The five major minerals in the human body are calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and magnesium. These, among other minerals, play an important role in various bodily functions. Too much or too little will affect everything from your energy levels to your cognitive abilities.
Herbs have somewhat of a negative or quasi ring to it in the western part of the world. This is sad in my opinion as science tells us that some herbs are quite potent an beneficial for us.
Fatty acids are a controversial subject among nutritionists and recommendations for what’s healthy seem to contradict one another frequently. Both ignorance and lack of knowledge pertaining to the dietary importance of fat has given it a bad name.
- Contact your primary physician to measure your current levels.
- Add supplements to counteract your deficiencies.
- Try a nootropic supplement like Mindlab Pro for a month.
4th law of bio-hacking:
What you do is who you become
Activities related to bio-hacking are things you do that directly influence or expose you to things that in turn influence your brain and body chemistry.
Sleep is the biggest factor of them all. This is the single most important pillar of behavioral change you can make. By finding and sticking to a persistent sleep schedule of about 7 to 9 hours every night, you give mind and body what they need to repair and rejuvenate from today and prepare for tomorrow.
The healing properties of exposure to cold water are wildly debated. However, if you’ve ever experienced a cold shower you know that at least you’ll properly wake up when taking one.
Additionally, science tells us that exposure to cold water affects our mitochondria, the small powerhouses that power us on a cellular level. Cold showers trigger a process of killing off old and week mitochondria that gives room for new and more powerful ones. This means that we get more energy to drive us through the day.
Meditation and gratefulness
Practicing meditation and gratitude on a daily basis can have a profound effect on our physical and mental wellbeing. What we think governs how we perceive ourselves and how we interact with those around us.
To acknowledge what we’re grateful for and having the courage to get to know ourselves on an emotional level is what mindfulness is all about. Mindfulness is really the state and ability to be present and a dominating factor for our overall happiness.
Just as important as setting a fixed sleeping schedule, is enabling your brain to properly wind down before bedtime. Junk light is a term used to describe unnatural light in our surroundings that negatively affect us. More specifically light at the blue end of the spectrum that disturbs our circadian rhythm.
This is the rhythm that governs our sleep cycle and especially blue light in the evening and at night tricks this rhythm to believe it’s still daytime. Our devices and poor led lighting is are considered poison in this regard.
By eliminating as much blue light as possible 2 3 hours before bedtime lets the circadian rhythm run its course and, among other things, trigger melatonin in our brain. This is crucial with regards to fall asleep and to properly enter the different and important sleep stages like rem sleep and deep sleep.
- Set a fixed sleep schedule and stick to it
- Practice gratitude and meditation at least 15 minutes daily
- Turn down the lights and stay off your devices the last hours before bed
5th law of bio-hacking:
Never fly blind
Measuring your progress is essential for two reasons. First and foremost to avoid injury, severe side effects or irreversible damage to yourself. Secondly, to measure progress.
So what should you measure? Depending on what you would like to enhance, a sleep and/or activity tracker is often a good way to start. It will give you valuable insight into the quality of your sleep and activity level compared to perceived energy levels.
Additionally, I would recommend a device that measures both blood sugar and ketones in your blood if you want to track how your nutritional changes affect your body.
Other types of periodical tests could include various fitness tests and retesting your vitamin and mineral levels with your doctor. I all depend on your desired outcome and level of commitment to bring bio-hacking into your life as tools for enhancing body and mind.
- Track our sleep to assess your need for enhancing sleep.
- Get your doctor to run a full blood panel to discover areas in need of attention.
- Set a fitness goal and measure your progress towards it.
Now, you have a notion of the basics of bio-hacking and how it plays an important role in your wellbeing. It’s important to note that bio-hacking isn’t hard and that little effort can trigger great improvement.
Bio-hacking is essentially about conditioning yourself and your surrounding and to enable your body and mind to perform at their best. We all deserve to get the most out of life, especially as we get older.
Getting older is a measurement of time, aging is a measurement of care. If you want to avoid what is considered to be age-related illnesses and deceases, bio-hacking is your way forward.
Published by André Giæver
I'm just a curious and generally positive guy that has a huge appetite for life and a deep passion for simplicity and optimization. This blog and site is my way of paying my knowledge forward so that we all can live fulfilling lives.