Biohacking: The new Anti-Ageing Craze that makes you younger inside and out
There is a new way of approaching health and it not only has the potential to make you look younger, but also will leave you feeling youthful, with more energy, more focus and happier. Biohacking has been defined as the “the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you, so you have more control over your own biology” explains Dave Asprey, the father of biohacking. Taking control of your biology allows any individual to operate at the best physical, mental and emotional potential they possess.
So what is involved in biohacking? Biohacking involves many different practices, both natural and technological, the former being considered at the fundamentals of biohacking. Getting the fundamentals correct, in any art, practice or hobby is essential for success and yield of return on investment. To some, these natural practices might seem like pseudo-science; however, we can all take peace in the fact that the leading biohackers have done the due diligence in making sure the juice is worth the squeeze. Most of these practices, both natural and tech-based, are backed by a plethora of supporting studies and literature, which can be found in medical journals published and available to the public. As with any front-runner in any industry, there will be attempts and failures and certain results that will be anecdotal, which is where the ‘hack’ in biohacking fits perfectly. With the medical research industry being backed by revenue-requiring outcomes, a lot of very beneficial practices don’t have the research and studies they require to be published in these said journals.
Mother Nature is a force to be reckoned with, but as devastating as she can be, she also provides us with so much of what we need to live life to our greatest potential. Here are some powerful biohacks that are free and are extremely effective:
Exposing your body to the sun: Now I know the first thing you think is: “Yes, obviously, vitamin D” and you would be very right; however there is so much more to it. Exposing yourself to early morning and late afternoon sunlight (without sunglasses or sunscreen), when the sun is at its lowest, sets your circadian rhythm, increases your body’s energy stores, reduces inflammation, increases melanin (natural sunscreen), balances melatonin (sleep hormone – but far more than just sleep) increases dopamine, making you feel happier and more relaxed. Exposure at midday, helps balance and improve production of hormones like progesterone in women and testosterone in men, increase vitamin D and increases melanin in the skin (natural sunscreen). Duration is key as we know; too much sun can also cause skin ageing and disease.
Exposing your body to the earth: This is known as earthing or grounding. Most people think this cannot be legitimate, but there are plenty of supporting studies, showing the benefits of getting barefoot and just walking on the grass or beach, or going for a swim in a natural fresh water or the ocean. The way this happens is the earth is abundant in free negatively charged electrons and, with our stressful lives, our inflammation and toxins all have a positive charge associated to them. When we exposure our skin to Mother Nature, our bodies pull the earth’s free electrons into our cells, neutralising free radicals and toxins in the body. This increases serotonin levels, making us feel happier and more relaxed and reduces inflammation caused by bad eating, injuries, disease and even intense training. Dr. Mercola describes earthing as the most effective antioxidant available to us and, best of all, it’s free.
Intermittent and extended fasting: Now some people say this works for them and others say it doesn’t, so there is common apprehension around this practice. However, most people are talking about weight management. The benefits of intermittent fasting go way beyond weight loss. Imagine being in your house cooking all day and all night, giving little or no focus to cleaning. Your house would be a mess 99 per cent of the time. If we constantly feed our bodies, so much of our energy goes toward digesting our food. Intermittent fasting allows our body a break from digestion, giving it a chance to focus on clean up, getting rid of cellular waste through a process called autophagy and resetting certain processes like insulin response. This ends up in more energy, clearer thinking, reduced inflammation and increased recovery from sports training and injuries. Before just diving into this practice, I would encourage you to read/listen to ‘Fast This Way’ by Dave Asprey or the ‘Keto Code’ by Dr. Steven Gundry.
Breathwork: Breathwork is one of the most incredible practices that we can do. From controlling anxiety, depression and stress, improving physical performance, increasing focus to assisting sleep and reducing inflammation. Different breathing techniques such as the Wim Hof method, holotropic breathing, 478 breathing and even something as simple as nose breathing all have different effects and applications. It is by far one of the most important aspects of our lives that we overlook, as the majority of us, due to a stressful lifestyle, tend to breathe through our mouth activating the sympathetic/fight or fight or flight nervous system, keeping us in that stress. A simple change in breathing through our nose, with deep stomach filled breaths, has the potential to reduce stress and inflammation, improve digestion and bowel movements, reduce cortisol and even improve dental and jaw structure.
There are plenty more fundamentals that deserve discussion like sleep, hydration, nutrition, cold exposure, all of which are extremely important and should be focused on and included in everyone’s daily health practices.
The technological biohacks normally take the spotlight as they are extremely effective and quite exciting, being the novelty that they are. Some of these biohacks are extremely pricey, like stem cell therapy, ranging between the R40k – R200k marks, depending on where you go and what you want done, where others can cost as little as R90 for a very effective ice bath, cold therapy. The convenience and return of investment of these therapies is what makes them so attractive. Just 10 minutes of red light therapy increases collagen production in the skin and joints, improves sleep, boosts energy and reduces inflammation. Cold plunges burn dangerous visceral fat, boost dopamine and norepinephrine naturally, the two active chemicals in antidepressants and antianxiety medications, by up to 350 per cent and increase metabolic rate by 350 per cent, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. Infrared saunas improve cellular health, balancing hormones, reducing inflammation and improving mood, even though you feel like a melted marshmallow when you get out, nothing that a few minutes in the ice bath can’t fix. Ozone therapy, which has incredible anti-viral, -bacterial, -parasitic, -fungal effects without the negative effects that big pharma’s medications have on our delicate microbiome, all the while increasing our cellular oxygen saturation levels, giving us more energy.
There is no silver bullet for something as important as health and wellbeing. Biohacking certainly takes a level of commitment and focus. These therapies are becoming more and more popular; there is no surprise that this industry is about to explode on us and we should all hope it does. This is the type of healing and lifestyle that humanity needs and deserves. If you would like to learn more about biohacking, have a look in to the pioneers via their books, social media pages and podcasts: Dave Asprey, Ben Greenfield, David Sinclair and Mark Huberman.
Mark de Gouveia is the founder of Thrive Labs in Bryanston, Johannesburg, South Africa’s first biohacking and human optimising facility. Mark coaches and guides professional athletes and high-performing individuals to reach their full physical and mental performance. In his free time, Mark practises and teaches another passion of his, capoeira, a high intensity, high-performance Brazilian martial art form. Mark’s life goal is providing the information and know-how to every South African to improve their health, reduce disease and for as many South Africans as possible to reach their full individual human potential.