Biohacking, also known as human augmentation or human enhancement, is do-it-yourself biology aimed at improving performance, health, and wellbeing through strategic interventions.
Some common biohacking techniques, like meditation and intermittent fasting, have been around since ancient times.
Other biohackers use a highly technical approach to engineering their own bodies while attempting to fix their flaws and make themselves superhuman.
And as technology for technical biohacking becomes more available on the market, do-it-yourself health opportunities get more and more extreme.
Why do people want to hack their bodies? Some do it because they don’t feel well and want to go beyond traditional medicine to address health concerns. Others want to use engineering to explore unconventional ideas and have full control over their own bodies. Still others do it because they want to try to halt the aging process and attempt to live forever.
If you’ve heard stories about people implanting chips into their appendages, using devices to shift their brainwaves to get better sleep, or putting butter in their morning coffee, that’s biohacking in action.
Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, one of the world’s most famous and influential biohackers, endorses intermittent fasting, reportedly eating only one meal a day and fasting completely every week. Intermittent fasting is a common type of low-tech biohacking intended to regulate blood sugar and maintain a healthy weight.
Other biohackers look to their genes for ways to optimize their diet—a practice called nutrigenomics. There are nutrigenomics companies that can process your spit sample, evaluate your DNA for certain genetic markers, and send you back a personalized diet plan.
Using cold to burn fat is another common biohacking technique. Many biohackers believe that exposing the body to cold can help burn fat faster when you’re trying to drop weight, and they recommend ice baths, cold showers, or even cryotherapy (a technique that uses nitrogen to cool the body).
More Extreme Biohacking
Some biohackers go beyond taking supplements, adjusting their eating habits, and taking cold showers. They actually modify their own bodies with technology, a process known as human augmentation.
A subset of biohackers known as grinders turn themselves into cyborgs by embedding magnets, chips, or computers under their skin. For example, a person with an embedded chip in their hand might be able to open office doors or even pay for their daily latte using only a swipe of the wrist.
Ever wonder what it might be like to have a smartphone you don’t have to carry in your pocket? Embeddable devices that allow our brains to communicate directly with computers are also on the horizon. Think Google Glass, but without the glasses.
Then there are the biohackers who push medical procedures to the limit in their quest for health and longevity. Dave Asprey, founder of the multimillion-dollar Bulletproof brand, had a doctor harvest stem cells from his bone marrow and inject those cells into every joint in his body as part of his highly-publicized quest to live to 180 years old. He also regularly hangs out in a hyperbaric chamber, depriving his cells of oxygen to improve the function of his brain and muscle tissue and repair the damage of the normal aging process.
On the most extreme end of the biohacking spectrum, there are people trying out young blood transfusions (yes, it’s really a thing) and even inject themselves with genes they’ve edited with CRISPR technology.
Is Biohacking Bad?
Some of the most controversial biohacking practices are indeed getting a bad rap, but some do-it-yourself biology can actually be empowering. If you’re interested in biohacking, do your research and choose the technology and the personal practices that will help you reach your goals while minimizing risk and avoiding harm. The tech race to help biohackers continue to optimize their own bodies is not stopping anytime soon.
Healthier Living Through Biohacking
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