Stem cell injections. Continuous glucose monitoring. Brainwave modulation. Neurofeedback. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. No, this is not sci-fi; all these are some examples of biohacking — the latest Silicon Valley lexicon of optimizing, enhancing, and upgrading the human body. Or, as Dave Asprey puts it, “the art and science of becoming superhuman.”
But what exactly is biohacking?
Below, we’ll break down the basics surrounding this next health revolution — including common biohacking techniques, categories of biohacking, solid advice on how to do it, and more.
Becoming Superhuman—or What Is Biohacking?
Biohacking is an amorphous term, and it can mean different things to people, depending on who you ask. But at its core, it refers to the practice of human enhancement using cutting-edge tools and technologies, biology, and self-experimentation to enhance one’s physical or mental performance. In other words, the pursuit of unlocking the code of human potential using advances in science and technology.
Also called do-it-yourself-biology (DIY bio), biohacking targets various human life aspects such as memory and focus, lifestyle habits, longevity, and athletic ability — all but to enhance things like performance and productivity, cognitive clarity, genetic makeup, or fight signs of aging.
People who hack their biology do this in several ways:
- Supplements and nootropics: Nootropics (smart drugs) are often used to improve cognitive functioning, increase energy levels, and boost focus. They range from nonprescription substances, like supplements and drinks, to prescription drugs, like methylphenidate (Ritalin) and Adderall.
- Lifestyle and dietary changes: This is hacking your way to better health using ancient practices like meditation, yoga, and exercises and dietary programs (like ketogenic diets and intermittent fasting).
- Wearable technologies: This consists of using wearable tech devices, such as fitness trackers, head-mounted displays, and smartwatches to help track and monitor lifestyle activities like sleep, fitness, heart rate, and more.
- Implants and injections: Like wearable devices, some biohackers use implant technology to make it easier to access personal information or extend their physical capabilities. At this time, common tech implants include testosterone pellets (for continuous hormone optimization), continuous glucose monitors, and stem cell injections, to name a few.
Categories of Biohacking
As you can see above, biohacking takes many forms. Whether radical or moderate, however, experts break it down into three categories: DIY biology, nutrigenomics, and integrators.
Here’s a detailed explanation of each category:
1. DIY biology
DIY biology, also called garage biology, is a type of biohacking where individuals self-experiment with their bodies at home, away from scientific institutions. Usually, it involves experts in biological fields sharing information and biohacking techniques with non-experts.
These devotees, known as DIY biologists, citizen scientists, or DIYers, can be anyone: amateurs, hobbyists, and even students. DIYers can experiment with anything from conducting fecal transplants to testing various wearables to monitoring their sleep under varying conditions.
Nutrigenomics explores the relationship between nutrition and genetics. Typically, it looks at the ways in which certain foods, nutrients, and dietary patterns can influence gene expression, cellular metabolism, and other biological processes associated with health outcomes.
Using this knowledge, biohackers can nutritionally manipulate their bodies with diet and supplements to boost their performance — mentally or physically.
Lifestyle optimizers also boast of using nutrigenomics to target genetic risks by tailoring diet and lifestyle to help prevent certain diseases. For example, people at risk of heart disease may optimize their health by focusing more on foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids.
Integrators are more radical biohackers who attempts to achieve transhumanism by leveraging augmentation and body modification technologies. In some communities, these biohackers are called “grinders“.
Integration can involve having a doctor insert a simple testosterone pellet under your skin to optimize your hormone levels. It can also involve using neurofeedback modulation devices, like the Muse™ EEG-Powered Meditation and Sleep Headband, for example. Or, it can involve stem cell injections, since they cells have demonstrated a compelling ability to modulate inflammation levels, mediate healthy tissue repair, and positively impact the host’s immune response.
In the future, integration approaches could also include gene-editing technologies like CRISPR, but right now this technology is FDA regulated and not available to people outside of commercially approved medical applications (and clinical trials).
Someday, this area of biohacking could also involve surgical implants and gene editing to add new and improved capabilities to the human body, such as night vision or enhanced strength. Needless to say, we’re not quite “there yet”.
Examples of technologies that this type of biohacker may use include:
- Brain-machine interfaces
- Bionics and prosthetics (artificial limbs)
- Neurotechnology (brain implants)
- Stem cell infusions
Biohacking vs. Biotechnology: What’s the Confusion?
Biohacking is often confused with biotechnology. While the two are related, they are very distinct concepts.
Biotechnology refers to the use of biological techniques and organisms to make or modify products, to improve crops, or for medical purposes. These techniques may include genetic engineering, fermentation, and tissue culture.
Biohacking, on the other hand, is a self-experimentation approach that may use biotechnology for non-medical purposes, often with the goal of improving one’s own physical or mental capabilities.
But perhaps the more pronounced distinction lies in regulation and scale. That is, biohacking is done outside of traditional regulatory frameworks and on a small scale, usually by individuals or small groups, whereas biotechnology is typically subject to government oversight and regulations and is often pursued by large companies or research institutions.
Biohacking 101: 5 Biohacks to Try in the Comfort of Your Own Home
The most successful biohacks are based on scientific knowledge and data-driven feedback to determine what works best for you. So before you get started, collect data first—for without it, biohacking may fall short of your expectations, even becoming inefficient.
There are two ways you can collect pre-and post-biohack data:
- Blood tests – This can include any type of blood and hormone analysis ranging from testing blood pressure, heart rate, and metabolic studies to performing x-rays and genetic tests of blood and other tissues. Such biomarkers can help identify risks, nutrient deficiencies, or hormone imbalances for a better understanding of your health status.
- Wearable devices – Track your vitals using biometric devices and wearables such as Garmin smartwatches, Fitbit, or Apple Watch. With these devices, you can capture and record your heart rate, brain activity, sleep, respiration rates, blood pressure, bloodstream oxygen levels, and even physical activity.
Once you’re done recording results, you can now evaluate them to figure out the problem you want to address—all while tracking your progress.
With that in mind, let’s now explore our selection of some of the most common biohacks worth trying at home — no chips required.
#1: Nutrition or biohacking your diet
The role of nutrition in our overall health and well-being cannot be overstated; estimates suggest that it can account for up to 90% of changes in weight and body composition. Considered the gateway of biohacking, nutrition hacking is a usual first approach for novel biohackers. Here’s a simple guide to hacking your nutrition:
- Start by tracking your macronutrients (carbs, proteins, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to make sure you are getting the proper balance of nutrients for your goals.
- Focus on eating whole, nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates.
- Experiment with fasting or time-restricted eating like intermittent fasting (IF) to see how it affects your energy levels.
- Explore other diets like the bulletproof diet plan and the ketogenic diet.
In case you don’t know where to start, consider consulting a nutritionist or dietician to help you design a meal plan tailored to your needs.
#2: Exercise regularly
Regular exercise has numerous benefits, including improving physical health, mental well-being, and cognitive function.
To improve your physical fitness, aim to get at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, at least three days a week.
A good exercise program includes activities such as:
- Lifting weights
- Doing cardio
- Or simple exercises like brisk walking, cycling, and swimming
Also, it’s important to find an exercise program that you enjoy, and that fits your lifestyle, as this will make it more likely that you will stick with it in the long run.
A good night’s sleep is one of the most effective ways to boost your mood and happiness and your overall well-being.
While some people may need eight hours of sleep, others may feel fully rested after just four to six hours. But always strive for the highest possible quality of sleep, no matter how many hours you spend in bed.
To hack your sleep and improve its quality, try incorporating some of these techniques into your routine:
- Wear blue light-blocking glasses at night
- Use low blue light lamps in your home (or ideally, switch to red lights in the evening hours)
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day
- Try eating your last meal at least 3 hours before bed
Neurotraining, also known as neurohacking, offers a simple and effective way to train your brain and tap into its full potential. And you don’t need to turn to costly supplements or exotic gadgets to get started.
Through neurotraining, you can improve a range of cognitive functions, including memory, learning, focus, motivation, and more. It can also help to alleviate anxiety, stress, PTSD, depression, and addiction.
Common neurobiohacks include:
- Meditation: This mindfulness practice has been shown to improve attention, memory, and emotional regulation.
- Yoga: This physical and mental discipline involves a series of postures, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. Yoga may have cognitive and emotional benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety and improved focus and memory.
- Routine: Establishing a consistent daily routine may help to improve productivity, mental clarity, and overall brain health.
- Cold therapy: Also known as cryotherapy, cold therapy involves exposing the body to cold temperatures, either through cold water immersion or cold air exposure. Cold therapy may help with improved focus and alertness.
#5: Supplement hacking
Supplements can offer additional benefits beyond those from food alone; however, always consult with a healthcare practitioner first before consuming any type of supplement.
Biohackers tend to use some of the following supplements to bridge the nutrition gaps:
- Probiotics (for gut health)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (for improved brain function)
- Magnesium (for better sleep quality)
- Vitamin D (to boost immunity)
There are also adaptogenic herbs, like ashwagandha and Rhodiola Rosea, which can support stress relief naturally without causing many of the side effects typically associated with prescription medications.
As a precaution, be sure to consult with a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.
So, should you try biohacking?
Ultimately, the decision to engage in biohacking is a personal one that depends on your motivations and goals, as well as your willingness to accept the potential risks and uncertainties involved. While some biohackers claim to have experienced significant benefits from biohacking, some practices have limited scientific evidence to support these claims. Some may even carry risks to your health or well-being.
Therefore, regardless of what biohacks you want to implement into your life, you should do three things: Research, assess the potential risks and benefits, and of course, consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any decisions.
Personally, I love biohacking! I use:
- Sleep trackers and wearables, including the ŌURA Ring and WHOOP
- A Continuous Glucose Monitor (Nutrisense)
- Supplements, including Vitamin D, Omega 3s, and Magnesium (to support sleep)
- Gut Microbiome Testing (I use Viome’s microbiome testing, as well as their personalized pre- and post-biotics)
I also wear blue blocking glasses in the evening. I practice intermittent fasting. I do regular bloodwork checks. I’ve done braining mapping using qEEG technology. And, I have a Sunlighten 3-in-1 mPulse Infrared Sauna.
Of course, since I run a stem cell market research firm, I’ve also had a stem cell treatment.
What questions do you have about the meaning or definition of biohacking? Ask them in comments below.