Biohacking: An Explainer
Biohacking – also known as a form of human enhancement – is essentially do-it-yourself biology that involves making small incremental changes to your body and brain to make them function better. The Silicon Valley community were early advocates; the inadvertent poster boy being Twitter’s ex-CEO, Jack Dorsey. In April 2019, CNBC published Dorsey’s ‘top biohacks’. It included everything from ice-cold baths and seven-minute high-intensity interval workouts to a one-meal-a-day diet, and regular fasts that can sometimes last an entire weekend. It came under a lot of criticism for what many considered a dangerous and extreme approach to biohacking. Does the path to optimising our health really need to be so complicated? No, says Davinia Taylor, wellbeing author and founder of Will Powders, a science-driven, female-focused biohacking community – and a long-time champion of the practice.
“Biohacking may sound scary but really it just means knowing your own personal biology,” explains Taylor. “When biohacking, you are simply looking to form habits that work for your chemistry and your lifestyle.”
Here are five ways Taylor suggests biohacking your life:
- Changes as simple as exposing your eyes to morning light prior to phone usage can make your morning more productive. “The blue light generated from the sun is what jumpstarts your brain and allows your body to properly regulate cortisol levels, giving you more energy.”
- Start with small resets. “We all go to the bathroom multiple times each day. Try remaining seated for just one more minute, close your eyes, place one hand over your heart, and then begin slowly breathing in for five and out for seven.” This small exercise helps to reset your mind and body, and regular practice helps calm the adrenal gland and nervous system, which, in turn, can stabilise your heart rate and blood pressure.
- Read In The Flo by bestselling author Alisa Vitti. Her book provides in-depth research on the connection between biohacking and better menstrual health, outlining how women can work in sync with their monthly cycles.
- Retraining your brain through habits is paramount to biohacking. The brain is neuroplastic so it can be retrained with substances such as nootropics – also known as cognitive enhancers – which claim to boost your memory and concentration.
- Consulting your GP before making any drastic health changes is key, as is exploring scientifically proven strategies. “I always advise looking into scientific research via websites such as Examine.com. Here you can find out more about things such as light exposure, cold exposure and the impact of breathwork.” It can open up a whole new approach to health.
Ata-Owaji Victor is a lifestyle and beauty writer whose work has appeared in Refinery29, Elle UK and British Vogue