What is Biohacking?
If you stay current on health and fitness news you likely have heard the word “biohacking”, and while you may have a vague sense of what it refers to, you may still have some confusion over the term. Today we will try to clarify what biohacking is and describe the various forms of it.
Descriptions of Biohacking
Biohacking is a broad and amorphous term that spans a range of activities.
In a very simplistic way biohacking is a term used to describe various tips and tricks for enhancing the body’s and brain’s ability to function at peak or optimal performance and possibly improve longevity. It has also been described as the art and science of shifting one’s physiology and nervous system to function intelligently and efficiently.
Biohacking is frequently referred to as “do-it-yourself biology”. Some biohackers have medical degrees and others hold doctorate degrees in the sciences. Some are complete amateurs but well read in the sciences. Biohackers are not inclined to wait 10 plus years for a possible intervention to be proven safe and effective. They want to improve their health and performance – NOW!
Before we too much further, let’s review how biohackers describe biohacking.
Biohacking is a global movement based on the idea that you can change the environment around you and inside of you so you have full control of your own biology. David Aspry, author of Smarter, Not Harder: The Biohacker’s Guide to Getting the Body and Mind You Want. He is also the founder of Bulletproof Coffee.
Biohacking is a powerful concept that equips individuals with diverse tools and strategies enabling them to take charge of their health like a CEO steering a successful company. Kien Vuu, MD, author of Thrive State: Your Blueprint for Optimal Health.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, biohacking is the biological experimentation (as by gene editing or the use of drugs or implants) done to improve the qualities or capabilities of living organisms especially by individuals and groups working outside a traditional medical or scientific research environment.
According to Cambridge Dictionary, biohacking involves scientific experiments with biological material, especially genes, done by peoplewho are not official experts or scientists, either as a hobby or in order to make money…”
This article states that biohackers represent a “do-it-yourself citizen science merging body modification with technology”.
I look at biohacking as attempts to crack the biologic code that leads to health optimization.
Forms of Biohacking
Something as simple as meditation or fasting can be considered biohacking. Other forms involve more technology like use of stem cells, saunas, and pulse electromagnetic fields (PEMF) as examples. Below is a list of forms of biohacking with examples of each.
- Lifestyle: dietary changes, mediations, deep breathing, and of course exercise in all its forms.
- Molecular: nutritional supplements (vitamins and minerals), peptides which are small protein fragments, and hormones.
- Biologics: stem cells, exosomes (contain growth and healing factors), and medications.
- Technology: wearable devices like smart watches and diagnostics like continue glucose monitoring (CGM) devices, smart exercise machines that monitor response to exercise.
Perhaps the biggest area of biohacking involves aging and involves cellular health and involves all the forms of hacking we discussed above. The area of aging biohacking appeals most to the 35 to 50 plus age group as they begin to see undesirable changes with aging. And guess what? They do not like what they see and want to take control of their own health and intervene before it may too late.
The reality is this. Adoption of new interventions in medicine takes years even in cases where intervention has been proven to be safe and effective. This usually occurs with interventions not being promoted by pharmaceutical companies. Pharmaceutical promoted interventions are adopted more quickly.
In the are of aging, there is increased focus on the balance between mTOR activation and AMPK activation and the use of senolytics to remove non-functional but harmful zombie cells. We have discussed this in Incredible Life Extension Benefits of Rapamycin, Longevity Benefits of Metformin, and Senolytics Remove Senescent or Zombie Cells.
Improving cellular health revolves around better understanding of the Hallmarks of Aging. We now have interventions beyond lifestyle where we can specifically target better these hallmarks of aging that are appealing to biohackers.
Many physicians are not aware of some these potential life extension interventions – one reason why more individuals are education themselves and become biohacker
Take Control of Your Health
At the end of the day biohackers seek to fulfill the desire to feel better while pushing the human body and brain to their limits. Biohackers wants control of their own health to improve the quality of life, and perhaps even extend it.