One of the most significant and fastest moving health and lifestyle trends making the rounds the past two years is "biohacking". Coined (and started) by our good friends in Silicon Valley, the biohacking trend is about being the best version of yourself – physically, mentally and emotionally. In this blog, we break down what it's all about and how you can apply biohacking principles in your own life to achieve optimal performance.
In a nutshell, biohacking is the art of “hacking” your body’s biology for its own good. Everything you do with, and put in, your body - food, thoughts, movements - is included. With a successful biohack, you can support your body and mind to become more alert, productive, streamlined, optimised and energised. Put another way, biohacking puts you in direct contact with the systems of your body that you usually allow to be on autopilot.
Nowadays, biohacking equipment – from personal headsets to improve brain function to large pieces of fitness equipment that give a full body workout in as little as 12 minutes per week – has become readily available, so there is no excuse not to give it a go.
Ready to explore? Here are five easy ways to biohack yourself:
1] Do more, with less
Merely changing when you eat is one of the easiest ways to biohack your body. Intermittent fasting has gained significant popularity of late as a means of preventing chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart failure, losing weight and improving cognitive function.
As a general guide, listed below are three popular intermittent fasting methods, choose the one that fits best with your lifestyle:
- The 16/8 Method: Skip breakfast and restrict your daily eating period to 8 hours, for example from 8 am to 4 pm, then "fast" for 16 hours.
- The 5:2 Diet: On two non-consecutive days of the week, only eat 500-600 calories. Eat normally the other five days of the week.
- Eat-Stop-Eat: Try fasting for 24 hours, once or twice a week, for example, by not eating from dinner one day until dinner the following.
Note: Make sure you drink plenty of liquids during the fasting times. If this sounds hard, the good news is that you are not restricted to water, you can drink a bulletproof or black coffee too.
2] Ground yourself
When did you last go barefoot in the garden, jog on the beach or stroll through the park? If the answer is never or rarely, we strongly recommend you introduce "grounding" into your biohacking arsenal. Grounding helps to align the mind-body-spirit and calm the mind.
Grounding, also known as earthing, means allowing your feet to connect with the earth’s surface – grass, sand, stone, etc. Contact with the ground allows Mother Nature to feed you with an energy infusion. Just as the sun above creates vitamin D in your body, the earth below provides you with vitamin G, a kind of “electrical nutrition”. When we spend time barefoot on the ground, our feet act as electrical currents, allowing the natural electrical charges of the earth to pulse through us.
This energy infusion is powerful. Indeed, it can restore and stabilise the bioelectrical circuitry that governs your physiology and organs; boost self-healing mechanisms; reduce inflammation and pain; harmonise your basic biological rhythms; improve your sleep and feeling of calmness.
3] Embrace slumber
Sleep and the quality of it are often missing from conversations about improving, or maximising, a person's health and mood. If you’re not getting enough slumber each night, between 7–9 hours, and suffering from sleep deprivation, you’re more than likely to suffer from chronic disease, depression, a weakened immune system, trouble concentrating, out-of-whack hormones, irritability and increased appetite.
The simple truth is that there is only one biohack to cure this particular malady - get more of it! Of course, we know it’s not always that simple, the key is consistency and patience. The following ten natural sleep aids can help turn your bedroom into a comfortable sleep sanctuary:
- Establish a daily (even weekends) bedtime routine
- Read or listen to something uplifting before going to sleep (but not on your smartphone)
- Avoid before-bed snacks, particularly grains and sugars
- Take a hot bath, shower or sauna before bed
- Be sure to sleep in complete darkness (try an eye mask)
- Sleep in a cool-temperature room
- Listen to relaxation music or meditations (e.g., Yoga Nidra)
- Spray pure essential oils like lavender on your pillow
- Don't drink fluids within 2 hours of sleep
- Put your smartphone in another room while you sleep
4] Curb your sugar enthusiasm
Giving addictive sugar the boot is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. True, it can be a damn hard biohack, but in the long run, one of the best.
The truth about sugar is that it increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, it leads to mood swings, it causes inflammation in the body, helps you store fat and lowers energy. And that's just the tip of the iceberg!
Before you freak out, take into consideration that our bodies are okay with naturally occurring sugars, like the ones found in fruit. What we're talking about are those pesky "added sugars" found in soft drinks, processed foods, sweets, dairy, condiments (honey, mustard, ketchup, syrup, etc.), fruit juices and fast food.
Don't despair, you don’t need to go cold turkey. There is a simple method to retrain your body and brain to stop craving sugar. 1] start your day with a homemade green smoothie, 2] have a big salad for lunch, 3] eat a protein-rich afternoon snack and 4] get plenty of sleep (as mentioned above).
5] Get in the zone
As mentioned at the beginning, biohacking isn't just about the food we put into our bodies; it's also about thoughts too. What we feed our minds is just, if not more, important as what we feed our bodies.
In this respect, meditation is the ultimate brain biohack.
The benefits of meditation are immense: from boosting concentration/productivity to encouraging a healthier lifestyle, to increased self-awareness and happiness, slowing down the ageing process, improving cardiovascular and immune health and, yet again, increasing sleep quality.
If you’re suffering from anxiety or stress, meditation is a powerful natural method of dealing with it. Merely establishing a daily meditation practice – be it 5 or 50 minutes – will have an immediate and long-term effect on your mental and physical health.
If you can’t stop your brain from buzzing long enough to meditate or you just don't know how to go about it, don’t worry, there are plenty of guided meditation audios out there to help you get into the zone. You could opt for a smartphone app or YouTube video, either of which will efficiently guide you through specific meditation practice, like starting the day with a clear head, helping you unwind or assisting you to relax before going to bed. You can even try incorporating affirmations and visualisations into your daily commute.