How biohacking can transform you into a superhuman
From computer chip implants to intermittent fasting, biohacking is all about manipulating yourself to be better, stronger, faster and fitter.
We’ve all heard about hacking computers and social media accounts – but what about hacking your own body?
It may sound like something out of a science-fiction movie, but more people are taking self-improvement to a whole new level with do-it-yourself biology, or biohacking.
Here’s what you need to know.
What is biohacking?
Biohacking means manipulating your brain or body to improve your performance, health and wellbeing, or extend your life.
It covers everything from diet and lifestyle changes to headline-grabbing medical procedures such as computer chip implants.
The movement has a raft of high-profile devotees, including Bulletproof coffee founder David Asprey, who hopes to live to 180 with a regime of supplements and stem cell injections, and Elon Musk, who is trying to create an interface between computers and the human brain.
“For me, biohacking is a way of living that encompasses lifestyle modifications to gain full control over my biology and be the best version of myself,” biohacker Lucas Auon, of Ergogenic Health, explains.
“Things like adjusting your light exposure and food intake, modifying your training schedule or sleeping patterns, supplementation (and) exercise hacks.”
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Here are some examples of biohacking
Computer chip implants
A subset of biohackers called “grinders” implant RFID (radio-frequency identification) chips in their bodies to act as entry keys to buildings, tap and go payment systems and public transport cards.
Three Square Market became the first company to adopt the technology by implanting their employees with microchips that allow them to enter the building, log into computers and buy vending machine snacks with a wave of their hands.
This controversial biohack uses young donor plasma infusions in an attempt to slow the ageing process, but the procedure has been called out by the US Food & Drug Administration as having no clinical benefit.
Some fringe biohackers use CRISPR technology to edit their own genes, but experts warn tinkering with your genome could cause mutations.
Nootropics are substances that aim to improve your brain’s performance, your mood and your productivity.
They include Rhodiola rosea to relieve stress, Panax ginseng to aid brain function and Ginkgo biloba to improve memory.
Nutrigenomics shows how your body interacts with different nutrients.
“It allows you to personalise your approach to nutrition and fitness, helping you optimise your health and wellness,” says Dr Carlotta Petti, scientific director and nutrigenomics specialist at myDNA.
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Want to try biohacking at home?
Biohacking is not as fringe as you might think.
“Many people are doing these biohacks without even realising it,” Lucas says.
“You can start out simply by focusing on the core pillars of health – sleep, nutrition, exercise, social connection and stress management.”
Here are some at-home biohacks you might like to try:
Blocking blue light
It’s thought that using electronic devices at night can contribute to sleep issues as you are exposed to blue light from back-lit screens.
Studies show disrupted sleep can cause a range of health problems.
Possible ways to reduce your blue-light exposure include changing the setting on your screen to a night-light setting with warmer colours, wearing blue-light-blocking glasses and placing a screen that filters blue light over your screen.
Many studies show this low-tech biohack may lead to improvements in a range of health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes.
This is one of the most common forms of biohacking and has been practised for centuries.
Studies show mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety, stress and pain.
Channel the biohacking ethos and track and measure your health and fitness performance with wearable technology such as a smart sports watch.
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Only choose safe biohacking methods
Dr Petti says it’s important to ensure your quest for health is done safely.
“Leave the cyborg and trans-human experiments to the sci-fi movies and look instead into evidence-based, innovative, scientifically sound technologies, products and services,” she advises.
Written by Dimity Barber.