But is this “DIY biology” really all it’s cracked up to be?
Specialists participated in an intensive course on the subject.
Biohacking is a broad concept that can be applied to many aspects of physical and mental health, from diet and exercise to sleep and stress management.
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Advocates say people can hack into their own biology to achieve different goals, whether it’s losing weight, boosting memory, living longer, sleeping better or even alleviating chronic pain.
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David Asprey, author and founder of a health and wellness company called Bulletproof 360 in seattlecalls himself the “father of biohacking”.
He told Fox News Digital via email that he started the biohacking movement in 2011.
“Biohacking is the science of changing the environment around you so that you are in full control of your own biology,” Asprey said.
“It allows you to get more results in less time. Instead of pushing and trying, you change things around you so that your body effortlessly gives you what you want, like more energy or less fat or a better brain. ”
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He believes that people who take up biohacking are likely to live a better life with more energy, peace, calm, and control over how they look and feel.
Asprey runs an online community of biohackers called The Upgrade Collective.
Hundreds of members, he said, have been profoundly helped by taking control of their own biology.
“Some have learned to sleep for the first time in years, others have lost 100 pounds and some feel more energy than they ever believed possible,” he said.
Biohacking is not a one-size-fits-all practice. Individuals can choose the elements of their choice to focus on – and how far to go.
Cold therapy, or cryotherapy, is one of the most common approaches to biohacking.
Athletes have long used it to reduce inflammation and soothe sore muscles after tough training sessions, but it’s also gaining popularity for its purported mental and physical health benefits.
Melanie Avalon, actress, author and avid biohacker in Los Angeles, Californiadaily cryotherapy sessions.
“It helps to reduce inflammation and ‘up-regulate’ neurotransmitters such as dopamine and epinephrine,” she said.
Cold therapy can be as simple as applying an ice pack to a localized area or taking a cold shower.
Others may do full-body ice baths, “polar dips,” or full-body cryotherapy in a cryochamber, which is cooled to frigid temperatures with liquid nitrogen.
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For those who can’t stand the cold, another form of biohacking involves heat therapy.
Avalon said he does sessions in an infrared sauna as a way to reduce muscle pain, eliminate toxins, boost the immune system by stimulating an artificial fever and activate heat shock proteins that promote longevity.
(Always consult a physician or healthcare professional before starting any cold or hot therapy.)
While biohackers place a great deal of emphasis on what they ate, when eat is perhaps just as important.
Brooke Burke, for example, has long been an advocate of intermittent fasting, which restricts meals to a certain window of time.
An example is the 16/8 method, in which a person fasts for 16 hours and then eats only for an eight-hour period between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm.
Others may choose to fast for the full 24 hours once or twice a week, or limit their calories on fasting days.
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Intermittent fasting has been shown to have numerous benefits, including improved heart health, weight loss, improved memory and cognitive functions, increased athletic performance and type 2 diabetes managementaccording to the Johns Hopkins Medicine website.
More advanced biohackers can get into nutrigenomics, which involves studying how different foods interact with the body’s genes as a means of preventing disease.
To promote healthy sleep, biohackers focus on regulating the circadian rhythm, which is like the body’s 24-hour biological clock.
Exposure to light sources causes the body to enter the “wake” cycle in the morning – and when it gets dark the body starts producing melatonin to prepare for sleep. When the circadian rhythm is out of whack, it can disrupt the sleep cycle.
On his website, biohacker Dr. Toronto-based Greg Wells offers some tips for regulating your circadian rhythm.
This includes exposing the eyes to light first thing in the morning, even if it requires the use of artificial sunlight, and avoiding light exposure before bedtime.
He also recommends keeping the bedroom at 66 degrees Fahrenheit to promote optimal sleep conditions.
Avalon maintains its own healthy sleep habits by using a cooling mattress, blackout curtains, and blue light blocking glasses to filter out blue-violet light rays from digital screens.
A growing number of biohackers are touting the health benefits of red light therapy.
This involves exposure to red light at certain wavelengths to trigger changes in the body’s cells. People can lie on full length beds or use a handheld device to apply the red light.
Red light therapy is said to affect pain relief, wound healing, lessen the side effects of cancer treatments, reduce inflammation and improve skin – although the Cleveland Clinic states on its website that further research is needed. necessary to determine its effectiveness.
A big part of biohacking is what Avalon calls “self-quantification,” which involves practices that measure various states of the body.
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Today, wearable devices can track almost every metric imaginable – heart rate, physical activity, calories burned, sleep cycles, glucose (blood sugar) levels, reproductive cycles and even the amount of fat the body burns. .
“By intensively monitoring biomarkers such as heart rate variablesbody temperature, sleep rhythms, blood glucose and blood markers, biohackers get feedback on what’s working and what’s not, so they can optimize how they tackle any given day,” said Avalon.
Asprey touts a sleep tracking system as the most important piece of technology that will tell you if you’re heading in the right direction.
“As you improve your health markers and biometrics, your score increases,” he said. “When you’re overtraining or emotionally stressed, your score is lower. You can’t fool yourself.”
Many biohackers monitor their blood tests to track things like cholesterolvitamin and mineral levels, organ health, inflammation, cell function, immune system health, and thyroid function.
Blood tests can also determine whether dietary changes or supplements are having the desired effect.
Asprey said he has always been an advocate of blood tests.
“How can you try to fix something if you don’t know where you are or where you’re going?” he said. “It’s something healthy people should do, because if you wait until you’re sick to get a blood test, you won’t know where you were when you were well.”
As with any lifestyle decision, taking biohacking to the extreme comes with some degree of risk.
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“The risks can come from pushing the body out of a state of hormetic [beneficial] stress, to excessive and harmful physical stress,” said Avalon.
“A broad recovery is important. Biohacking techniques should not be seen as salvation, but rather as a tool to increase our well-being and existence”.
For those just starting out, Asprey recommends choosing just one thing to focus on, rather than setting a more general goal of “getting healthy.”
This could include better sleep habits, a healthier diet, or daily exercise.
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“In a way, whether they know it or not, everyone is a biohacker,” he said.
“The environment around you, the food you eat, the space you live in and the things you do always affect you. Each of us is responsible for our environment, consciously or unconsciously.”
All those considering starting new biohacking practices should first consult their doctor.