What is Biohacking?
The definition of Biohacking is; “biological experimentation done to improve the qualities or capabilities of living organisms especially by individuals and groups working outside a traditional medical or scientific research environment.
I think the best way to describe biohacking is, the exercise of trying things to ‘get ahead’ in your health in a do-it-yourself way.
Chances are you have heard of at least one type of biohack through your friends or social media, there are so many of them! Everything from drinking raw water and hanging upside down to infrared light therapy and ice baths. Caffeine, liquid herbs, magnetic currents, charcoal toothpaste, salt juice, they all qualify along with many, MANY, more.
But what do you do with all of these ‘hacks’? should you try them all? Look at them skeptically? Pick one to try? It is hard to know because your doctor is not likely to pick one and tell you to focus on it, you will probably have to do that on your own.
And the reason for that is because these are largely not scientifically and medically controlled exercises. Sometimes a biohack is researched well and the researcher shares their notes, other times not so much. Biohacking really is a form of DIY Biology, and because of this it is important to understand each biohack for yourself and what you expect to get from it yourself.
That being said, there are some things you can do that ARE studied and proven to better your life. We want to briefly talk about a handful of them today. No matter what biohack you are going to try, no matter how ‘out there’ it is, these are some natural things you can focus on to get ahead in your health that are sure to work and improve your life.
So continue to safely research and try things that you want, but be sure to not forget about some of these natural methods that we will bring up – no biohack has proven to be a replacement for any of these things!
If there is one thing that I can easily forget to invest in regularly, it’s my sleep. Sometimes that is because life can be busy and you need an extra few hours to get things done, other times it’s out of your control (am I right parents of young children??). But even with those factors, we can still do our best to prioritize getting the right amount of sleep whenever possible and do things to make sure we are getting quality sleep.
Once again we’re not shocking you here with movement and exercise, you will see a theme that these natural biohacks are items that we know work, but we forget to make them a part of routines and regular actions. The benefits of movement are vast, even if you aren’t hitting the gym every day, walking as much as you can, stretching, and doing a few exercises regularly goes a LONG way to keeping your muscles, joints, and brain working the way they should as you get older and need a working body to accomplish many other tasks in life.
I said there was a theme right? Nutrition is once again something we all know is important, but it’s just so easy to start focusing on the flashy new biohack or presumed shortcut, only to find out that there is no substitute for eating well.
We are not going to break down all the details in such a vast topic as nutrition, but we want it to be something you are remembering to put effort into before you get lost in the excitement of drinking raw water or drinking your veggies (things that are probably fine, but don’t make up for bad nutrition).
4. Time in Nature
In the spirit of this list, we are sticking to things that we know will help you get ahead. And there are many studies linking time in nature to a longer life. You may have even heard your doctor recommend that you get outside near the plants and fresh air. Time in nature is also going to pair nicely with getting some more movement and nurturing your body. You get vitamin D from the sun, your immune system gets stronger from all that you're exposed to, you will take more steps, it eases anxiety, and it even improves your sleep by being exposed to natural light and helping set your body’s internal clock.
5. Connection with Others
Similar to time in nature, investing in personal and emotional connections helps you live longer! Take time to invest in your relationships, meet new people, get a dog, whatever fits in your life. Just make sure it’s important and a part of your regular actions. There are many mental health and biological health benefits when talking about your social connections. You will find your anxiety and worries eased by chatting with a friend, your sense of gratitude increased by caring for a pet, and your own self-esteem raised when you can bring value to someone else’s life through connections.
6. Sense of Purpose
The final health hack that we are going to share with you today, and that we should all take time to consider and define, is our sense of purpose. Precision Nutrition uses a ‘Deep Health’ template for their training and coaching and one of the legs of health that it teaches on is existential health. Or in other words, a sense of purpose. When you know what you are working towards, who you are doing it for, and can recognize the bigger implications of your actions as they relate to what’s important to you, then you will feel the power of your sense of purpose in your body and wellness.
No matter how many hours you spend in a dark room, how many ice baths you take, or what smart drugs you consume, they can’t replace the role these 6 things have in your health.
If you want to learn more, listen toSimple(ish) Fitness Podcast where we talk about each of these in more detail and give a few more thoughts on biohacking!