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When someone says “biohacking” do you get a mental image of the Borg from Star Trek, or maybe even being plugged into The Matrix?
Don’t worry—biohacking your body is not about replacing your body parts with others. Biohacking is about optimizing your biology for a healthy and happy life.
What is biohacking?
According to Descartes in 1637, our bodies are wonderful machines that need care and maintenance, but infinitely more complex. This comparison is in use daily in anatomy courses around the world even today.
Biohacking takes that idea a step further and gets us making that machine run in an optimized state using nature and tech together.
So time to grab your toolkit! We’re going to figure out biohacking together!
Different Approaches to Biohacking Your Body
Many things are considered biohacking, not one in particular. There are technological and chemical and dietary hacks, or even behavioral.
In fact, you already hack your body every day! Any time you have taken a multivitamin or used some food to boost your energy, you’ve been a biohacker.
The real difference, though, is how distilled down the “treatment” goes. In the past you would have an acai berry smoothie because it is “healthy.”
Biohacking goes a step further than that and tries to find the best optimization for your body. This involves changing chemistry such as hormone levels and microbiology. Even going so far as modifying your physiology.
There are a few ways to crack into the source-code of your body:
- Nutrigenomics: How food alters chemistry, genetics, and physiology
- DIY Biology: A slice of biohacking which relates to altering genes in our bodies, like CRISPR
- Grinder: A person who alters their physiology, implanting tech
- Wearable Tech: For collecting data or even prosthetics which are not for the intended purpose of the body part replaced or lost
One of the biggest schisms in the biohacking community comes from the biotechnology debate. It’s like people’s view of tomatoes being a fruit or a vegetable. Does it matter?
Both are pushing toward humans taking a shortcut to wellness using science. Whether by natural or technological means of change.
Which is right for you? One or both might be the answer you come up with.
Use of Nature or Technology?
Nature is a ready-made chemical factory that creates amazing compounds for our use. True, some will definitely kill us faster, like nicotine.
Some things like alcohol can give certain benefits from a little before it gets to be too much. Therein lie the balance and optimization part of this movement.
A little alcohol gives you enhanced blood flow in your eyes and thus vision. A little more will make your cue-ball miss the mark on the 8-ball, scratch, and lose the game.
But there are some things that technology just can’t help us do, like hear color or process big data.
Some natural products that fall under biohacking are supplements. We use them every day whether we call ourselves a biohacker or not. Most well-known pharmaceuticals are actually a distillation of chemicals found in nature. At least, those we know work really well, such as aspirin.
Nootropics are a segment of this area of nutrigenomics and biohacking. It’s a selection of whole foods or supplements that are used to make you “smarter.”
How will food make you smarter? Some foods contain whole molecules or parts of molecules that our brains use to create things like serotonin or dopamine, for example. Helping to fuel the chemistry of your brain is one way to hack your biology and give you a better mood.
Have you noticed that interest in or being happy about something you’re learning makes you remember it better and study harder?
It’s one example, but you can achieve a better mood, and thus better learning, from those precursors for brain health.
Another area of interest is how we can choose to feel a certain way, given enough effort. Daydreaming might be an accidental form of mood enhancement, but more active ones such as mindfully practicing gratitude show improved heart health over time.
Not to mention, being gracious is great for networking. Not only does networking give the potential for a better career, but more opportunities for thankfulness.
Speaking of networking.
Oh, technology. You’re everywhere in our modern world, and we can’t seem to escape you. Some people deliberately try to run from technology. Well, maybe not technology so much as the electromagnetic interference caused by wireless technology.
But using tools to augment our natural capabilities is nothing new.
Two examples that can help us hack our daily life cycles are magnets for pain management and LED lightbulbs that have adjustable light temperatures.
The point is that conventional technology has replaced us. With biohacking using technology to make you perform better is viable and accessible to almost everyone.
One point we need to mention spend some time talking about is big data and privacy.
Big Data and You—It’s Not About 1982
The age of big data, AI, and surveillance is not coming—it’s here already.
Don’t worry, though. Yes, companies have gotten in trouble with selling our data from right under our noses. Yes, health records are definitely a big, sensitive thorn in our sides.
Yet, that data is usually not used maliciously. It’s very useful for us, as long as it is secure enough. Using 256-bit encryption and dual authentication, data security is improving every year for even basic consumer products as the internet of things keeps expanding.
The main takeaway is that this isn’t a George Orwellian “Big Brother” dystopian future we’re staring down. The world of big data is here in biohacking as well, in the form of wearables and even implanted technology.
We might as well accept it and give it a big hug because big data is here to stay.
Let’s take a look at two growing trends in biohacking tech.
The Outer Limits: Implantables
Plenty of useful data can be harness from outside of your body. There are countless review sites for different wearables and products, such as Optimized Biohacking.
But finding information on implantables is a bit tougher, without going to the more liberal and strange side of biohacking, called “Grinding”. This subculture of biohacking involves testing and stretching what we know of as possibilities.
To be sure, all medicines and implanted prosthetics are tested and have a measure of human augmentation. Grinding takes it a step further as these individuals are DIY body modifiers.
Our Implanted Future
Magnets and electronics under the skin sound strange, but at one time, so was a pacemaker. Even after reviving a stillborn baby, the tech wasn’t used again for decades until social perception was ready to change.
Even so, most of the implantables offered in unofficial surgical rooms are not practical, and not created by medical-technology industries for implantation, like pacemakers are.
The next generation of grinders will probably be PhDs looking to change the world through augmentation. What disruptions the smartphone caused for communication, implants will cause for the internet of things.
Wearables: A Safer Choice
Wearables are a more socially acceptable technology for the time being, and they do plenty. Just the medical slice of wearable technology is expected to grow by 21.4% by 2025, and nearly triple in market value from USD $7.4 billion.
Smartphones connected to smartrings like the Oura are a regular occurrence these days as sensor technology gets smaller. Even the 3g/4g and upcoming 5g connectivity offers wearables a tether-free experience.
Smart-earings and smart-belts seem a bit overkill, but maybe not, if they can create useful data we can harness for our own bio-optimization.
Smart glasses poised for helping us in ways that Google Glass couldn’t have done even a few years ago.
Biohacking Understood: Now You Know
Biohacking is a wonderful and strange world, just like our own bodies. Why wouldn’t you want to run at optimum performance and live as long as you can? Especially if your quality of life is good.
If your not fully convinced, remind yourself next time you take a cup of coffee or tea in the morning that the caffeine intake is to wake yourself up. A multivitamin is for everyday health. Yoga and other exercises are for stress management.
Aren’t you already biohacking your body a little? To some degree, yes.
So, stop wasting your time and jump aboard with this and other tricks and tips for biohacking. Read on for more!