We all want lives full of energy and vitality. However, with our busy, modern lives, that can sometimes feel like an unattainable goal, especially if you don’t quite know where to start. So perhaps biohacking can help.
WHAT IS BIOHACKING?
Biohacking is the practice of enhancing one’s mental and physical performance. The practice is defined as the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside your body to allow more control over your biology. Essentially it’s about optimising the body to become our best selves.
As with everything in the world, there are simple ways to achieve this promise, e.g. through Nutrigenomics. Then, there are more complicated, riskier, futuristic ways involving do-it-yourself biological experiments, technological implants and chemical manipulations to optimise the human body.
Let’s focus on the more straightforward and safer ways to optimise your physical and mental health and wellbeing.
Nutrigenomics is a revolutionary new science and a popular form of biohacking that focuses on how different foods interact with specific genes. Consider this interaction as a conversation where the nutrients in the food talks to our genes, and our genes then express themselves after the exchange.
The food we eat provides potent dietary signals that directly influence the metabolic programming of our cells and modify the risk of common chronic diseases.
Nutrigenomics has revealed so much more to food than just the nutrients nutritional science has discovered so far. Real food is chock-full of thousands of compounds that have a complex and dynamic relationship with one another and with your genes. Micronutrients in processed, food-like substances, on the other hand, have either been altered due to the process of manufacture or are missing them. Meaning they can never deliver the same beneficial messages to your genes that real food can.
Food is essentially complex information that the body uses to direct all the multifaceted actions that go into keeping you vibrant and full of vitality. When you look at it like this, it’s clear to see that loading up on fast, processed, food-like substances can derail human wellbeing and health.
Your body will respond to food-like substances as if they are foreign invaders trying to do damage. Inevitably, this activates an inflammatory response as the body does its best to protect itself. Continuous consumption of this type of food can lead to low-grade chronic inflammation, digestive and mitochondrial dysfunction or hormonal imbalances. These are the precursors to disease.
But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, as these precursors can be reversed if caught and addressed early enough. This is disease prevention at its finest. At The Thrive Practice, we use the science of advanced testing in combination with the art of listening to your story to reveal the conditions keeping you stuck and reduce or reverse them through a health improvement plan that is 100% tailored to you, your life and your body.
Although food and nutrition can offer significant benefits for biohackers, biohacking isn’t just limited to diet. Here are four additional ways to modify your lifestyle to biohack your way to better health.
LOWER STRESS LEVELS
Between 60-80% of primary care visits may have a stress-related component, either exacerbated by stress or caused by it. Stress may feel or even be an inevitable part of daily life. Prolonged elevated levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, will induce feelings of being ‘tired and wired’, leading to a drop in levels of the hormone that leave you feeling unproductive and low in energy.
Remember, human wellness is all about homeostasis or balance. So some stress is okay, but too much will cause problems. Consider tactics like meditation, massage, journaling and incorporating daily relaxation or fun activities into your schedule to help lower your stress levels.
Results from Formulate Health March 2021 survey found that 36% of UK adults struggle to get to sleep at least weekly, and almost 1 in 5 have trouble falling asleep every single night. A lack of sleep can negatively impact cognitive functions, appetite and glucose regulation, leaving you craving simple carbohydrates.
To improve your sleep, reduce exposure to blue light before bed and eliminate it during the nighttime hours. Blue light has a shorter wavelength and higher energy level than the other colours that make up white light. The sun is our primary source of blue light, but fluorescent and LED light bulbs, as well as mobile devices and computers, also give off blue light. Blue light helps to regulate our sleep-wake cycle (circadian rhythm) and melatonin production. To help you improve the quantity and quality of your sleep, get out early in the day or use a blue light filter like night mode on the device and stay off electronic devices for at least two hours before bed.
Regular exercise of at least 150 minutes per week that incorporate cardiovascular and resistance training can have profound positive benefits for your health. Exercise has been called the miracle drug. That is because exercise is a game-changer with powerful and wide-ranging benefits not just for the cardiovascular system but every part of the body. Being inactive physically increases the risk of approximately 35 different diseases or disorders like cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes and having just one of these conditions will increase the risk of others.
CONNECT WITH OTHERS
Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter involved in maternal health, particularly breastfeeding and childbirth. It is associated with bonding, empathy and trust and can help counteract the negative impact of stress. Positive, healthy relationships and social support offer benefits for mental and physical health, particularly heart health. Having a variety of different types of relationship, including acquaintances, close friends and mentors, have been found to be beneficial.
Enhance your positive connection to others by cultivating a variety of relationship types, schedule virtual or phone dates with long-distance friends and walks with local friends. Volunteering also offers excellent opportunities for meeting others and is exceedingly rewarding.
DOES BIOHACKING WORK?
Some types of biohacking, such as guiding your eating habits and modifying your lifestyle, are generally safe. However, many biohacking techniques that go “off the beaten path” are untested and may be prohibitively expensive.
There are also concerns about obsessive behaviour around hardcore biohacking that can quickly lead to unhealthy territory or fuel an eating disorder. Instead, it’s healthy and safe to take a holistic approach to biohacking your brain and body by taking notes, eating in a specific window of time, and following a schedule that offers flexibility.
Biohacking doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to achieve the kind of results that can make a significant difference to how you look and feel. The suggestions outlined above are great examples of the first steps to take. Take notes on what helps and what has a limited effect while you’re doing this, and adjust your biohacking prescription accordingly.
When you’re ready to uplevel your biohacking experience, The Thrive Practice can support you to optimise your health and wellbeing through targeted and quantified data.