Meet South Africa’s professional biohacker and performance coach, Steve Stavs
“I believe people are more aware now than ever of the state of their health, as we live through a pandemic and are looking to take accountability for it.” Steve Stavs
Biohacking began in the early 2000s as an underground movement but is now practised by millions of people around the world and has grown exponentially in South Africa. Biohacking is best described as the art and science of adapting and assessing your internal environment (your body) and external environment (where you live and work) and making the necessary changes to optimise your mind, body and soul.
Johannesburg-based professional biohacker and health futurist, Steve Stavs, believes that this DIY, self-health approach improves quality and longevity of life. “Biohacking equips you with the tools to transcend society’s stressors. While it sounds new to some, you’ve probably already biohacked yourself,” says Steve. “If you’ve checked your blood pressure or blood sugar levels and made lifestyle changes to improve those data points, then you’re a biohacker!”
Odyssey magazine caught up with Steve early in the new year.
- What is biohacking to you, Steve?
- Biohacking is a lifestyle of health optimisation! It’s based on a belief that my health is my most important asset. It’s a way life that is underpinned by personal accountability for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
- And can biohacking be described as a layman’s do-it-yourself biology?
- For sure. Biohacking is so multi-dimensional and available to everyone! From the smallest intervention like measuring your blood pressure to the most complicated genetic testing, biohacking caters for all.
- When biohacking, do you use a combination of these biohacking types or do you have a preference for one? And why?
Nutrigenomics: How the food you eat interacts with your genes;
DIY bio: Using your education and experience to biohack;
Grinder: The subculture that sees every part of the human body as hack-able.
- I definitely use a combination of these biohacking types. I don’t have a preference for any of these specific hacks. They are individual specific. I strongly believe that the biohacking audit or assessment is the foundation of your health optimisation. Simply put, the right biohack is based on the unique individual. The individual’s audit results, personality, environment and culture all play a role in what is adopted and exercised.
- Does biohacking actually alter your biology?
- Well it has the power to alter your biology. Like any intervention, consistency is far more important than intensity. For example, walking barefoot in your garden to gain the benefits of grounding, alters your biology when done consistently. I guess, one has to also define ‘alter’. Getting enough sunlight in your eyes and on your skin changes your biology but getting the right sunlight dosage for many days in a row, can significantly alter your biology.
- How safe is biohacking? There are numerous examples that have resulted in their intended outcomes but there are an equal amount of examples that have caused health problems and even fatalities.
- I believe biohacking is extremely safe. Of course, application and dosage is extremely important. I give this example to my clients. Drinking healthy water is considered very healthy? Yes? But what about drinking 25 litres of that healthy water in one day. Not so healthy? Even possibly fatal.
I think we also need to take a step back here, and ask other questions. According to a John Hopkins study, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the USA. So even “professional medical advice carries risk.”
There is an important role of the biohacking coach to help and guide you along your health optimisation journey, someone who is trained and skilled to facilitate lifestyle changes that are sustainable. I believe we need a strong community around us to help us be our very best in all health areas.
- What is the role of regular blood testing in biohacking?
- It forms part of the biohacking audit and is one of the foundational assessment pillars. Corporate business is also seeing the value of the individual knowing their own blood markers. Direct-to-consumer labs in the US have grown exponentially in the last five years. SA is lagging in this respect but I believe African consumers are well on their way to educating and empowering themselves with their blood data. The new Apple watch will also be able to measure your blood glucose levels which will be a game changer for many!
- We have heard a lot about nootropics – particularly caffeine – and substances in natural supplements or food and beverages to increase cognitive function. Do they form an integral part of biohacking?
- Once again, one has to look at the specific individual. Sometimes nootropics have a profound effect and sometimes people use them to mask symptoms of underlying pathology. They have their place , and I have personally used them with great effect. But be aware, people use them to improve their energy levels but never look at their sleep hygiene and resultant sleep quality.
- If the Odyssey readers wanted to biohack healthfully and holistically at home, what advice would you give them? And what precautions should be taken?
- Firstly, join a biohacking community, online or in person, that can guide you and help you along your journey. Wise people have gone before you; leverage off their knowledge and experience.
Secondly, get a Biohacking coach. The health audit needs some interpretation, while a coach can help you sustain your transformation. The number one problem is that people struggle to maintain their new lifestyles. For example: The research unequivocally shows that 80-95 per cent of people who lose weight will regain that weight and even add extra kilos within five years. It’s difficult to do it on your own. Be wise. Get a biohacking coach.
Thirdly, only do what you are comfortable and at peace with. Start slowly and maintain the basic biohacking principles. Some of them are totally free! Like developing a biohacking breathwork protocol. Oh – and always have fun along the journey.
- Would my understanding be correct Steve: Biohacking does have health benefits and is ‘easy’ to do at home although assistance is recommended? Experimentation on your own body can lead to unexpected side effects without the proper knowledge and research. Based on this, it is essential to talk to a doctor, medical practitioner or nutritionist or a suitably qualified coach before making any significant changes to your diet and supplementation and/or introduction of foreign bodies into your physiology?
A: Yes, your understanding is correct. It all depends on the unique individual and their individual assessments. Working with a biohacking coach who connects with your medical team is the holy grail of health optimisation. Try and develop a community around you who know their own individual roles and can ultimately work together. You will find this to be life-changing.
About Steve Stavs. Steve was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, is of Greek heritage and is a husband and father of two. Steve has an honours degree in science and many years of research in ancient wisdom, coupled with expertise in Chinese medicine and philosophy. Steve is also an avid athlete, having completed the Comrades Marathon 11 times.
As an accredited performance coach and professional biohacker, Steve draws on 25 years’ experience as an entrepreneur and business owner.
As the podcast host of The Made to Thrive Show, which is now in the top two percent of podcasts globally ranked by Listen Notes, Steve’s podcasts have been collectively downloaded thousands of times.
Steve is also the founder of Made to Thrive, a health optimisation company and, together with his team of eight consultants, has inspired and empowered thousands of people to a life of thriving.
Steve Stavs accreditations:
*Accredited Business Coach: Gordon Institute of Business Science *Accredited Facilitator for the Pacific Institute- Personal, Leadership and Cultural assessments *Accredited Lemon Leadership Facilitator *Certified Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Geobiologist.
Made to Thrive is available on all major podcast platforms:
Connect with Steve Stavs online: