Biohacking is a concept that many people associate with people like Joe Rogan and Dave Asprey (founder of Bulletproof). But, the term itself somewhat misleading, certainly intimidating and sounds far more complicated than it actually is. Furthermore, while we think biohacking is something for the wellness-obsessed goop devotee with tons of extra cash, that’s not necessarily true.
So what is biohacking exactly? According to expert biohacker (and real estate tycoon) Ari Rastegar, “Biohacking is a term that is used to refer to technology, vitamin supplementations, or specific methods of eating and exercising that enhance one’s biochemistry. So effectively, you’re finding ways to increase lifespan, increase vitality, or make your energy usage more efficient. You’re trying to optimize the way your body functions, often by experimental means.”
Remember a few years ago when everyone was putting MCT oil in their coffee? Have you been so cold you screamed during a five-minute cryotherapy session that felt like an hour? Are you into multi-vitamins or taking a mid-day walk? All of these things are considered biohacking.
Is there a specific reason you should start biohacking? If you’re not feeling your best these days, you might want to look into it. For Rastegar, it changed his life completely.
“I felt a noticeable drop off in my energy levels and how I felt on an average day right at 30-31 years old. One day, I looked at my aging self in the mirror, and I wanted that to change. I wanted to feel the way I did in my early 20s. Back in my 20s, I could function on less sleep and I didn’t have to do as much to stay energetic throughout the day. So I kind of went on a mission to figure out what was going on.”
After seeing a series of doctors, he underwent blood tests, tried cryotherapy, hyperbaric chambers, acupuncture, massage, different green juice diets, and more.
“I slowly started to feel better and my body started to perform better. All of that was ultimately rooted in getting more exercise, eating more vegetables, and dramatically reducing sugar intake and processed foods.”
I’ve seemingly tried every biohacking trend over the years. Isn’t that more or less a requirement for writing for aSweatLife? But, I didn’t get serious about any particular one until I developed Bell’s Palsy, a sudden weakness in facial muscles that can affect people in slightly different ways. For me, I couldn’t move the left side of my face. This affected my speech as well as my ability to chew and swallow.
While I saw a top neurologist who prescribed me medicine, it didn’t do anything. After a month or so of suffering, I tried using an infrared light device, which I credit to curing my Bell’s Palsy symptoms in two weeks. While studies have shown light therapy to be an effective treatment, it’s not something most doctors prescribe or even tell patients about.
Despite what some would believe, biohacking doesn’t have to cost money. Rastegar recommends starting by doing HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts. “You don’t need any fancy gym equipment and you don’t need a gym membership. It can be as simple as sprinting in front of your apartment or playing a sport that you enjoy, as long as you’re getting your heart rate up and moving your body as much as possible.”
He also suggests finding a mental or spiritual practice that resonates with you. For Rastegar, it was transcendental meditation, but that’s certainly not the only option. There are a seemingly endless number of YouTube videos and free mindfulness apps like Calm and Insight Timer.
Cold plunging is another great biohack. And no, you don’t need a fancy pool (who has room for that anyway?). In her book, Get The Fuck Out Of The Sun, and this blog post, Lauryn Evarts Bosstick writes about the benefits of cold showers, which is frankly close enough. She suggests turning the shower to the coldest setting. Then go as hot as you can stand (without burning yourself) for another 30 seconds. Then, turn it on cold again.
Light therapy (my personal favorite) is another biohack that while not free, can be accessibly-priced and absolutely life-changing. Infrared (or near red) light helps with sore muscles and tissues (and yes Bell’s Palsy). Vital Red Light makes a portable device that has both red light and infrared light. This is great for traveling or for anyone who doesn’t have the space or budget for a larger device.
But remember the most important thing— biohacking isn’t about hopping on a trend train or owning the latest and greatest gadget. It’s about making good decisions and developing the right habits and routines for an optimal life.