Biohacking has become a trend-word of late, but it’s something that leaves most people confused. Many assume that it is some sort of cheat or shortcut when in actuality the modern-day practice of biohacking is actually a throwback to our body’s survival methods and instincts. Whether it’s optimising nutrition, hot and cold therapy, or changing our exposure to different types of light, biohacking uses modern methods to take us back to our evolutionary roots.
What is Biohacking?
Thanks to modern technological advancements, we now understand a LOT more about the human body. With these discoveries has also come the knowledge that each individual has a different set of genetic, social and environmental factors that all feed our impression and understanding of holistic health.
Biohacking uses new technologies to enhance our body’s ability to function. Whether this is in:
- Recognising what is lacking e.g. nutrition, sleep and sunshine etc…
- Implementing new tools and practices e.g. breathing and mindfulness, heat/cold therapies, or
- Improving our daily activities and practices, e.g. sleep, supplementation, or
- Maximising our exercise and workouts with smart, targeted training
biohacking is about understanding and implementing simple, small changes that can optimise your energy, health, and mental performance. It is a very hands-on approach to your own health, which requires on-going feedback and evaluation to get right.
“Simply put, biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you so you have more control over your own biology.”
What Parts of My Health Can Be Hacked?
Our bodies and minds are as diverse as the number of people on the planet. It probably comes as no surprise, then, that there are a number of ways to optimise the operation of our ‘self.’
You may already be performing some sort of biohacking practice in some form. However being intentional about it, and determining which practices work for you, can help to optimise 6 key aspects to living a healthy life.
Sleep is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, part of holistic health practices. Studies have shown that limited sleep is biologically the same as drinking too much alcohol, and can lead to ‘lead to lapses in memory and problems concentrating.’
Biohacking your sleep may include things like journalling before bed, having regular sleeping hours and maintaining that consistency, and turning the phone off at least 1-2 hours before sleep to reduce the blue-light they produce.
Nutrition isn’t always about what you put in. It’s also about how your body processes that food, and how we have evolved to consume it. Although there are arguments for micro-nutrients from a range of far-reaching foods, the same arguments can be made about the localised foods your body has evolved to process efficiently.
Not only can the right nutrition boost your immune system, but biohacking practices may also include intermittent and/or periodic fasting, simulating a time not so long ago where 3 meals per day were not standard, nor was it available.
Generally speaking, however, just cutting out processed and sugar-filled foods is a biohacking weapon that will leave your body in good stead for the work it needs to do.
Other biohacking practises like eating healthy fats (avocado, olive oil), counting your macros and keeping a food journal can help you to break down which foods help your body to feel more energised, as well as tailoring your diet to suit your workload.
A common misconception of supplements is that they are only for sports. However supplementing your nutrition should be viewed in the literal sense, it is a great way to obtain many micronutrients or other building blocks that we are not obtaining from our diet. Whether it’s adding zinc and magnesium to help with sleep and hormone balance or herbal tea to improve your hydration, supplementing correctly can help you to hack your own biology.
We all know the benefits of exercise. But movement is one of the core components of biohacking, as it has always been one of the core elements of our survival. Of course, for most of us, we’re no longer toiling in the fields to harvest a crop. And yes, we do need to ‘set aside time’ to actually get exercising. But with many neat biohacking techniques to change our daily habits, we can incorporate more movement without needing to lock away hours in the gym.
For example, instead of sitting all day, you may acquire a standing desk. Similarly, you may choose to use the stairs instead of the elevator. Or, you can enlist the services of qualified personal trainers, who can help you tailor an exercise and nutrition program that suits your needs, and timetable.
Where we live can have a huge impact on how we live. As our societies have evolved, however, we have become exceptional at blocking out our environment in an effort to make ourselves more comfortable.
Whilst this is good for some things, we are no longer exposed to those natural events that program our body into healthy routines. Events like waking and sleeping based on the sun (circadian rhythm), extreme heat and cold (which releases positive hormones), and grounding, or releasing free radicals by connecting with the Earth’s magnetic field.
When it comes to biohacking our environment, there are plenty of tools to use. Some of the more common ones include:
- Sensory deprivation tanks
- Cold showers or ice baths
- Extreme heat (sauna)
- Blocking blue light from phones and other screens
- Getting into nature!
Every day we seem to stumble upon a new piece of research that shows just how inextricably linked our mind and body’s are, and invariably their impact on each other. As they say, the mind follows the body and the body follows the mind.
When it comes to biohacking our minds, there are a number of activities that have made their way back into popular demand lately, including:
- Observing and reflecting on our internal monologue
- Setting up better daily habits and ‘small wins’
- Listening to podcasts and other fun/educational material
Mindful practices and training have been shown to have incredible effects on our mental health and wellbeing, and biohacking is helping people to re-attain their positive and active states of mind.
We hope you have enjoyed this introduction to biohacking! As Vancouver’s top personal trainers we are qualified and experienced in helping you to understand and optimise your body and mind. If you would like more information about biohacking or would like to try some of these ideas, get in touch with us!
About Turnfit Personal Trainers
Turnfit Personal Trainers is founded by David Turnbull or “Coach David” – an experienced and successful Personal Trainer who strives to build happier, healthier lives every day.
With a focus on holistic health, we pride ourselves on making a difference and were recently awarded the 2019 Top Choice Award for Personal Trainer in Vancouver.
It’s our mission to help you to build the skills, and mindset, it takes to feel successful in all areas of your life.
We look forward to hearing from you!