If you’ve ever cut your hair, put on makeup, or gotten a tattoo, you’ve done something to alter your external appearance. While making changes to the outside of our bodies is quite normal, doing things to change the inside of our bodies is not. That’s where biohacking comes in.
What is Biohacking?
Biohacking, derived from the words biology and hacking, is biological experimentation with the intention of improving one’s life and health. That’s a general definition of biohacking, as the word itself is quite broad. Biological experimentation can mean a slew of things, ranging from intermittent fasting to genetic engineering.
Similarly, biohacking can take place in different forms. It can be as formal as a group of scientists coming together in a lab and brainstorming, researching, and experimenting different body “hacks” that improve health. Or, it can be as informal as you in your home experimenting with taking out different food groups to see if you can find a way to sleep better.
Though the term biohacking had been used before in recent years, its definition changed with the rise of well-known biohacking experts, such as Ben Greenfield, Dave Asprey, and Zoltan Istvan. These biohackers helped define what biohacking means now through their media popularity, companies, and personal biohacking.
Types of Biohacking
Biohacking really can be anything you want – any intentional change you are making to your biology, especially in pursuit of better health and happiness, is biohacking. Nevertheless, there are three main types of biohacking: nutrigenomics, do-it-yourself biology, and grinder.
Nutrigenomics is when you nutritionally manipulate your body’s activity. That sounds confusing, but all it really means is by understanding that your body is always going to change, and that our bodies are ever-changing, we can observe the changes and use those discoveries to have better lives. Our bodies are affected by a variety of things, such as food, exercise, and sleep. In nutrigenomics, you learn how stimuli affect your body and interact with each other, then how to nutritionally manipulate these interactions for your benefit.
Common examples of nutrigenomics are exercise hacking, attention hacking, sleep manipulation, stress management, and environmental hacking. Remember, all hacking really means here is making changes. So, for example, environmental hacking is making an environmental change that will improve your health. Perhaps you spend a lot of time inside and don’t get enough vitamin D – red light therapy is a nutrigenomic biohacking technique used to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
Do-it-yourself biology, or DIYBio, is one of the older forms of biohacking, and one of the most popular. DIYBio refers to biohacking as a form of biological experimenting and studying, outside of what is considered the norm. It is highly criticized, as it is an unconventional way of experimenting.
Expert DIYBio-hackers are generally scientific researchers, professors, or educators, who want experimentation to become more accessible. They teach aspiring DIYBio-hackers or anyone interested in how to conduct experiments. The DIYBio culture tends to focus on researching, studying, and testing unproven science, which is another cause for criticism by more conventional scientists.
While targeted at teaching the average person how to experiment, DIYBio doesn’t encourage amateur biohackers to attempt potentially dangerous experiments with their bodies. There are a lot of resources and studies available for those interested in DIYBio – if interested, make sure to read up first.
Grinder biohacking is perhaps the most controversial form of biohacking, and definitely one that should be left to experts. In summary, Grinder biohacking is when you technologically implant or chemically manipulate a part of your body. This is done with the intention of using technology to enhance the human body, as well as push the limits of both technology and the human body. For example, grinder biohackers could implant magnetic pads into the fingertips to create magnetic fingertips.
Easy Ways to Start Biohacking
If biohacking sounds like something up your alley or if you’re just looking to lead a happier and healthy life, but don’t want to implant a chip into your body, you could try one of the more beginner biohacks. Here are a few notable (and easy!) biohacking techniques that are widely used.
You’ve likely heard of an elimination diet, even if it wasn’t in the context of biohacking. An elimination diet is a type of nutrigenomic biohacking, as it nutritionally manipulates the body’s activity. When elimination dieting, the dieter removes something from their diet, then slowly introduces it. During the reintroduction phase, the dieter will observe how their body reacts to the food or food group.
A common elimination diet is the removal of dairy. So, you could remove dairy from your diet for two weeks, then slowly reintroduce it day-by-day. Observe your body, how you feel, and how you react both externally (rashes, hives, etc.) and internally (stomachaches, constipation, etc.). If you see negative effects after reintroduction, you may consider removing or reducing this food group in your diet to feel better on a day-to-day basis.
Perhaps you’re looking to alleviate chronic pain, sleep better, or reduce anxiety through biohacking. If so, this might be the biohacking technique for you. The use of CBD, or cannabidiol, is a common biohacking technique. As it can be used for a variety of things, CBD is a great beginners biohacking technique. For example, ONENINE CBD users report that CBD has helped alleviate back pain, reduce aches and pain, and reduce inflammation.