First things first. Biohacking is a general term for using tips and tricks to alter/improve your biology to become your best and most efficient self.
This may sound a little like something from The Matrix but it’s growing in popularity and is showing some great benefits for people but other views need to be considered too.
How do I do it?
In order to biohack your biology most effectively, you’d be best getting a genetic/DNA test done that allows you to examine your genes and what your predisposed to but also if possible (as it’s not widely available yet) a microbiome analysis to see what your gut bacteria (and oral bacteria too) consist of and what this profile indicates in terms of your health.
For example, some DNA tests look at things like your caffeine metabolism, which indicates how well your body processes caffeine and can give you an indication as to whether it’s beneficial for you (helps you work out harder and therefore burn more calories) or would more likely have a negative impact (makes you jittery and less able to sleep). This could be helpful for people who for example, have anxiety issues and discover that they don’t react well to caffeine; hence reducing their intake may help reduce anxiety levels as they don’t feel as on edge.
Another example I have heard that has helped individuals is that some people don’t process alcohol as efficiently as others and therefore would need to monitor their consumption more closely. Knowing this allows you to take action against it for the times when you really want to partake in the celebrations and enjoy a drink, therefore taking something such as Milk thistle which is a great liver supporter, can help.
Knowing your genes and microbiome profile could also help people understand which diet would suit them best as some people may not process carbs as well as others and therefore a lower carb, higher protein/fat diet would work best for person A whereas person B has microbes and genes that can handle that plate of pasta just fine. This is where new information is beginning to explain why so many people often do better on one diet than another and react very differently to certain foods/diets than their friend.
So basically, knowing what your body struggles with can give you the information to improve your life, however, there are also some practical issues to consider and some potential downsides as well.
It’s one thing to know how your body will react to e.g. alcohol but it’s another to actually follow the steps for improvement. Many people already know their daily alcohol limits (x units per day) but most people still knowingly go over it, this becomes even harder in social situations where there may be pressure to throw caution to the wind.
If you knew that your body didn’t deal well with more than a small portion of carbs at a time would you still choose the lower carb option from the menu or would you order what you craved instead? Maybe it varies depending on your will power that day and how well you’ve stuck to your nutrition plan the rest of the week?
Would you want to know what your genes held for you or would you be happier remaining ignorant? A great example are people who have a history of heart disease in the family, would they really want to know that they’ve a gene that makes them predisposed to heart issues so that they could take steps to avoid/minimise this or would this just cause more anxiety which ironically, could negatively impact heart health anyway, or would they be better off not knowing?
How cost effective would these tests be and how often would they be required? The guts microbiome can change rapidly after serious illness/infection therefore would need to be retested to see if any major changes have occurred that could now have significant impact.
Life improvements and easy hacks
Below is a quick summary of the hacks and uses I’ve heard people already using this type of information for that has helped improved their life:
+Weight/gut issues-using fermented food and prebiotic fibres for gut health & diversity
+Know how to achieve fitness goals quicker e.g. possessing genes that respond better to resistance/weight training than cardio
+Provides more encouragement if you can’t yet see physical results but you can on cellular level e.g. positive changes to hormone levels or inflammatory markers
+Increasing insulin response to big meals by doing 1-2 minutes intense exercise beforehand
+Improving nutrient absorption/intake by consuming a specific food 1-2 times a month e.g. red meat for iron or B12 intake rather than a totally plant based diet
In summary, there are a lot advantages that biohacking can provide but making it practical for everyone to use on a regular basis comes with a lot of issues that need to be worked out first.
If you want to make self-improvements now without spending a fortune on DNA tests then simply start investing in your health such as eating more nutritiously, taking steps to increase your sleep and reduce stress and perform a variety of exercises to keep your body strong and not stuck in a rut.
Furthermore, If you’d like to improve your memory or brain health I’d recommend checking out the podcasts by Jim Kwik or if it’s gut health/diet you’re interested in, then I can’t recommend enough “The Diet Myth” by Tim Spector.
I’d really like to hear thoughts or experiences anyone has had with these issues or maybe you’ve had a test done already and found the results particularly insightful, if so, drop me a comment below, I’m very intrigued to hear thoughts on this topic.