Biohacking is a growing trend in wellness and self-improvement spaces. Biohackers use a range of techniques to strategically improve their health and overall well-being. Somebiohacking techniques are backed by science, while others are unproven or experimental. Read on to learn what this trend is all about, plus four biohacks that work.
What Is Biohacking?
Biohacking, also known as citizen biology, is the science of optimizing and upgrading the human body. Biohackers experiment with various strategies to try to “hack” their bodies and improve their emotional, mental, and/or physical health.
In its simplest form, biohacking involves making simple changes to your lifestyle and seeing how you feel. At its most advanced, biohacking involves complex self-experimentation performed by scientists.
What Are the Different Types of Biohacking?
Biohacking is a broad term that includes a wide range of self-improvement strategies. These strategies fall into three main categories:
- Nutrigenomics. This type of biohacking focuses on learning how food and supplements alter your body’s function. Nutrigenomics biohackers may tinker with their diets and observe how they feel. They may also experiment with exercise routines, cold therapy, or other stimuli to try to live better.
- Do-it-yourself biology (DIYBio). This type of biohacking focuses on conducting more complex self-experimentation. These experiments vary, but in recent years, scientists in the DIYBio movement have gained media attention for experimenting with DIY fecal transplants and DIY gene editing.
- Grinder biohacking. Grinder biohacking involves combining body modification with medical technology. For example, it might include things like embedding magnets or computer chips under the skin.
Is Biohacking Safe?
It depends on the hack. Some lifestyle changes that are popular with biohackers, like intermittent fasting, vitamin supplementation, sauna sessions, and cold showers, are considered safe for many people. Still, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor before trying any lifestyle hacks if you have heart disease, high blood pressure, or other medical conditions.
Some biohacking practices haven’t been researched in depth, if at all. For experimental or unproven hacks, the potential risks may not be clear. With further research, some may turn out to be safe—but others may not.
4 Biohacks That Actually Work
Since there are so many biohacking methods, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. We’ve dived into the scientific literature to find biohacks that are supported by current research. Check out these four biohacks that work, according to science.
1. Supplement with Nootropics
Nootropics, also known as smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, are a group of substances that may help boost learning and memory. These substances include dietary supplements, herbal remedies, and prescription medications.
In a recent review, researchers outlined the current science surrounding nootropics as cognitive enhancers. They note that:
- Supplements containing deanol (DMAE), a substance found in fish, have been shown to increase alertness and attention.
- Ginkgo biloba extracts increase both memory and information processing, according to one study.
- Rhodiola rosea extracts have been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in students with moderate anxiety.
Biohackers may use various forms of meditation in the hopes of calming their minds or boosting their overall wellness. The practice of meditation dates back to around 5,000 to 3,500 BCE, and this time-tested practice is supported by modern science.
Mindfulness-based, yoga-based, and transcendental meditation practices have proven health benefits, according to a recent review of 104 randomized controlled trials for therapeutic meditation. These health benefits include improved sleep quality, reduced fatigue, and improved mood.
3. Increase Your Stress Resistance
Exposure to mild stressors—like heat exposure, cold exposure, exercise, or dietary restriction—may help the body raise its stress threshold. This concept is known as hormesis, and biohackers may rely on it to boost their stress resistance and become more resilient.
Research shows that sauna use helps optimize the body’s response to heat. As biohackers become heat acclimated, they may notice a variety of changes that help them perform better in hot weather, from a lowered sweating threshold to a lowered heart rate. In the same way, cold water immersion could help you “hack” your body to get used to cold weather.
4. Cold Water Immersion
Like meditation, cold water immersion has a long history. Cold water bathing dates back to the time of the Ancient Greeks when it was used to help ease ailments like muscle and joint pain. Modern science has shown it offers many other benefits, which is why it’s a popular biohack.
A recent study found that cold water immersion, when combined with sauna use, increased young men’s testosterone levels. Another study found that cold water immersion led to improved sleep quality. Research also shows that a single plunge in cold water can have powerful positive effects on your mood.
Give Yourself An Edge With Proven Biohacks
Biohacking is an emerging trend that could help you boost your emotional, mental, and physical health. While different hacks may work for different people, consider getting started with one of these four evidence-based hacks, like cold water immersion. The Ice Barrel is a low-maintenance way to make cold plunges part of your hacking routine.
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