Today, chronic diseases affect approximately 133 million Americans, representing more than 40 percent of the total population. By the end of 2020, that number has grown to an estimated 157 million people, with 81 million having multiple conditions.
In other words, we are faced with a chronic disease epidemic that is unlike any time in the history of man. It is this climate that has fostered the biohacking trend, as millions of Americans not only work to get out of a chronic disease state, but also work to take their health to the next level.
Hippocrates: The Father of Biohacking?
Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, once said, “A wise man knows that his health is his greatest asset.” This is truly a profound statement, and one that biohackers around the world are really taking to heart.
In fact, many people believe that biohacking is part of a next step in the evolution of human consciousness, where people are beginning to reclaim their personal sense of sovereignty and gaining a greater level of insight and appreciation of the health of their bodies and minds. There is a growing realization that when your body and mind are sick, it can be devastating to every aspect of your life. Therefore, to reach your maximum potential as a human being you must take your health seriously and stop waiting for your doctor to tell you how to optimize health.
The hope for many in the biohacking community is that as this trend continues to spread it will create a culture of health-conscious people who can eliminate chronic illness and evolve into a healthier, happier world. To this end, many biohackers start with basic dietary and lifestyle strategies as a foundation of health, then add supplements and therapies to their regimen. I refer to these as biohacks.
Eight Effective Biohacks
For the best results, combine one or more of these strategies to bring about the best results.
- Superfoods. Superfoods tend to be more nutrient dense than the standard foods you find at your local supermarket. Biohackers are using many of these foods improve energy levels and accelerate overall recovery from chronic disease or physical activity. The extremely high nutrient density of these foods gives you the ability to consume far more nutrients than you normally could.
- Common superfoods include algae powders, wheat grass, marine phytoplankton, maca, turmeric, cacao beans, and goji berries. Many of these foods are available in concentrated powdered forms can be taken conveniently on the go.
- Herbal medicines. In addition to containing high amounts of basic micronutrients, herbs usually contain powerful molecules called alkaloids that have a prominent and immediate effect on the body. Many popular herbs come from traditional Chinese medicine or Indian Ayurveda. These systems have used these herbs for centuries, and today’s science is continuing to verify their efficacy through countless studies. Traditionally, these herbs have been used for both fortifying health and helping to heal illness or injury. Although the effects of herbs are cumulative, they can also be used to target specific systems for acute symptom relief. Some of the most common uses for herbs include boosting energy levels, enhancing cognitive function, balancing hormones, and reducing pain and inflammation.
- Popular herbs are panax ginseng, reishi mushroom, cordyceps, lions mane, Rhodiola rosea, astragalus, and ashwaghanda.
- Nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals refer to targeted nutrients that are taken in addition to superfoods, herbs, and a healthy diet. They work to bolster blood levels of specific nutrients in order to boost specific functions in the body. A popular among biohackers is alpha GPC, a type of choline that helps boost the memory-enhancing neurotransmitter acetyl choline.
- Common nutraceuticals include individual vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and antioxidants.
- Intermittent fasting. This is one of the most basic and popular biohacks being used today. It also is one of the most efficient, meaning that it gives you a very high return of benefits on the little effort that you put out doing it. With intermittent fasting, you generally only eat during a 6- to 8-hour window during the day, but you can eat until full during that time. The rest of the time you are fasting. By eating as much as you want but in a much smaller window, you are forcing your body to go at least 16 to 18 hours a day without food, during which time the body is forced to use its own fat and old tissues as fuel. Over time, the body becomes very efficient at doing this, which in turn burns stored body fat, helping you stay thinner and healthier.
- Hot/cold exposure. Extreme hot/cold exposure is a stress to the body, and when done periodically, can make it stronger and healthier through the natural adaptation that occurs to overcome it. The use of traditional or infrared saunas significantly raises core body temperature, which is used to enhance circulation, improve heart health, reduce pain and inflammation, improve sleep, increase fat-burning, boost the immune system, and detoxify the body. Many of these benefits occur due to the activation of what are called “heat shock proteins” in the body, which are turned on during extreme temperature changes to assist in the adaptation. On the other hand, being exposed to extreme cold by taking an ice bath or cold shower can have many of the same benefits on health and recovery as heat. However, alternating between the two may be more beneficial than either one by itself.
- Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT). Light therapy is a non-invasive biohack that involves exposing a selected area of the body to red or infrared light at varying intensities, which stimulates the cells in tissues and quickens the healing process. Doctors, dentists, physical therapists, and other medical professionals use light therapy in a variety of ways. There are also home light panels that can be purchased and hung on a wall. Over the past decade, lasers and light-based systems have been well studied and become a common modality to treat a wide variety of conditions and health problems, including sports injuries, inflammatory conditions, and skin conditions. Currently, researchers are further expanding the scope of therapeutic use of light therapy as a treatment option for those with neurodegenerative disorders. Studies also suggest that LLLT is effective for improving pain, muscle spasms, morning stiffness, cognitive function, and overall energy levels.
- Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy (PEMF or PEMT). PEMF is a non-invasive, painless treatment for various injuries, bone-related conditions, and pain. The treatment involves a pulsating electromagnetic field of varying intensity and frequency that is emitted from a mat or magnetized coil of wire that is placed on or around the patient. The application of pulsed magnetic fields has been shown to help the body restore normal potentials at an accelerated rate. It can also aid the healing of most wounds by reducing inflammation, as well as helping to regenerate tissue through enhanced function of your body’s own stem cells.
- Stem cell therapy. Stem cell therapy is arguably the most powerful single therapy available today for disease prevention and overall recovery. Stem cells—specifically mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)—have been called “patient-specific drug stores for injured tissues” because of their broad range of healing abilities. MSCs are directly responsible for healing damaged tissues after injury. They are currently being used both domestically and abroad to assist in the treatment of a wide number of different conditions, including sports-related injuries, chronic pain, neurodegenerative diseases, anti-aging, and overall health optimization. Stem cell therapy is a natural fit within both naturopathic medicine and biohacking. Take a look at today’s most celebrated biohackers, including Bulletproof founder David Asprey, and you’ll find that they all have undergone stem cell therapy (mostly by my hands), in particular, my Full-Body Stem Cell Makeover, which was designed specifically for vibrant longevity.