Below are some common areas people often wish to biohack and a few trending examples of how to approach each concern.
Many people become interested in biohacking as they start to advance in years. According to Asprey, one of the top biohacker demographics includes people between the ages of 35 and 50 because individuals in this life stage suddenly start noticing signs of aging.
Cellular senescence is one of the main concepts at play in age biohacking. As cells in the body are damaged by injury, stress or disease, they are removed by a natural process called apoptosis. But as the body ages, it becomes less efficient at clearing these senescent cells. Their accumulation may lead to inflammation that can damage other nearby cells, accelerating the aging process and the onset of disease.
Accordingly, many people in the age-related biohacking arena focus on cellular health and regeneration. They believe that if the production of senescent (damaged) cells can be stopped, or even reversed, then the aesthetic and physical changes that come with aging can as well.
Age-related biohacking examples include:
Biohacking for energy is one of the top areas explored, according to Asprey. What’s more, biohacks for sleep are often part of this category, because a person often can’t be energetic if they’re not well rested. Most U.S. adults fall behind here, with over one-third of adults included in the National Sleep Foundation’s 2020 Sleep in America Poll saying they don’t get the recommended amount of sleep.
This category can also include stress relief, as chronic stress can be very draining on a person’s overall energy.
Energy-related biohacking examples include:
- The use of sleep tracking devices
- The wearing of blue light-blocking glasses
- Light therapy for circadian rhythm regulation
- The use of meditation apps for sleep support, stress relief or both
- The consumption of supplements like vitamin B12 and magnesium
- Timed caffeine ingestion
Diet and Nutrition Biohacking
Whether a person is seeking weight loss, metabolic efficiency or better digestion, biohacking and food go hand in hand because controlling what, how and when one eats is a biohack most people can readily understand.
Biohacking often involves customizing one’s diet to optimize cellular nutrition. “Consuming a nutrient-dense diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids can provide the building blocks for healthy cells,” says Lofton. “Specific dietary approaches like ketogenic diets or fasting regimens may also affect cellular metabolism and energy production.”
Cellular nutrition aside, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for metabolic health and longevity, explains Lofton. Excess body weight, especially visceral fat (fat around organs) can contribute to metabolic imbalance, insulin resistance and chronic disease.
“By optimizing metabolic function through healthy lifestyle choices, individuals can enhance their physical performance, support cellular health and potentially increase their lifespan,” says Lofton.
Diet- and nutrition-related biohacking examples include:
Physical Health Biohacking
Athletes—including professionals or weekend warriors—are often looking to gain a competitive edge in their training, performance and recovery, which makes biohacking very common among the athletically inclined.
What many people don’t realize is that exercise itself is a biohack. “Regular exercise has numerous benefits at the cellular level,” says Lofton. “It promotes mitochondrial biogenesis (the creation of new mitochondria), improves cellular energy metabolism, enhances insulin sensitivity and stimulates the release of growth factors that support cellular repair and regeneration.”
A recent study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found participating in a single high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workout can also boost brain neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to rewire or modify its neural connections) within 20 minutes of the session.
That being said, people looking to boost athletic performance or accelerate recovery (from workouts or injuries) can choose from a wide range of high-tech biohack modalities. Physical health-related biohacking examples include:
- Cold plunging practices and the use of ice baths
- The use of heat therapy and saunas
- The use of smartwatches and other training feedback tools
- Whole body vibration therapy
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Fields (PEMFs) therapy
- Red light therapy (for healing and recovery)
- The consumption of athletic supplements like creatine and amino acids
- The consumption of electrolytes and energy drinks
“The most powerful pharmacy is between your ears,” says Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D., the founder of brain-training platform BrainTap. “If you manage your brain, then the rest of your health follows. Neurons that fire together wire together.”
Thanks to mirror neurons, the brain “matches” its surrounding environment, says Dr. Porter. The function of these neurons can partially explain why a person generally feels differently at a spa than they do at a rave. The brain affects a person’s emotions, physiological processes, hormones, memory, focus, ability to learn and process information, and more.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a term often discussed in brain biohacking because this specialized protein promotes neurogenesis (the birth of new neurons) and neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to create new neural pathways). A number of scientists refer to it as “[like] Miracle-Gro for your brain.”
Higher levels of BDNF are associated with better overall cognitive function and memory and may even offer neuroprotective effects, according to Dr. Porter. Accordingly, many brain biohacks are intended to increase a person’s BDNF levels, but the main premise of brain biohacking is that one must care for and regularly train their brain.
“You have to become your own software engineer for your own mind,” says Dr. Porter.
Brain-related biohacking examples include: