Biohacking is essentially health optimisation. It encompasses a range of practices – from optimising the fundamentals of good health like nutrition, sleep and light exposure through to more technologically advanced practices such as using infrared saunas, cryotherapy, hyperbaric chambers, ozone therapy and functional health testing.
Biohacking can deepen your awareness of your body’s state of health and what you need to do personally to support and optimise your health and wellbeing. Many people accept symptoms like low energy, gut issues like bloating or inconsistent bowel movements, hormonal imbalances, headaches and chronic pain as a part of life and something they have to put up with. This is often not the case. Your body is always striving to heal and achieve a state of harmony and balance. We just need to support it.
The basics of biohacking
The best place to start is to get tracking. There’s a saying that goes ‘if you don’t track it, you can’t hack it’. You can use a wearable device like a Whoop strap or Oura ring to monitor your sleep, strain and recovery. These devices allow you to track your habits and behaviours to get a detailed insight into the factors that support your sleep and recovery, and those that hinder it. They can be beneficial for increasing awareness and creating accountability.
As a nutritionist, I’m a big advocate for regular testing. It’s important to keep an eye on basic health markers like your liver function, blood sugar levels and HbA1c, hormone and nutrient levels. You can also run DNA tests, gut health tests, adrenal stress tests and many more. Navigating tests can be a minefield so if in doubt, speak with a qualified nutritionist or functional medicine doctor.
Cold therapy has become one of the most popular practices amongst biohackers with cold plunges and cryotherapy gaining momentum. Cold therapy is one of a number of hormetic practices in which moderate doses of a stressor can have beneficial effects on the body. Stressors that can induce hormetic responses include exposure to heat, cold, exercise, certain chemicals and dietary factors such as calorie restriction. Controlled doses of the stressor stimulate the bodys’s defence and repair mechanisms, leading to increased cellular repair, improved immune response, enhanced antioxidant activity and even increased lifespan. Most of us live life in temperature-controlled comfort. Getting out of our physical comfort zones can have a wide variety of benefits.
Back to basics
While there are ongoing advances in technology, many of the ‘biohacking’ strategies that can afford us the greatest impacts remain unchanged. Grounding, eating a whole food diet, prioritising our sleep quality and quantity and optimising our light exposure by starting our day with exposure to natural daylight and minimising screens in the evening are basic biohacking practices we can all benefit from.