Like adding oat milk to your coffee or brushing your teeth with activated charcoal, biohacking is another wellness trend you’ve probably heard of — but aren’t quite sure what it’s about. After all, what does the term “biohacking” even mean?
Biohacking is a fairly new (and unregulated) concept, which means the definition may vary based on who you’re asking. On one end of the spectrum, biohacking broadly refers to adopting a range of scientifically-driven lifestyle techniques that aim to “hack” into your body’s biology in order to achieve your highest potential for physical and cognitive health and performance (also known as nutrigenomics).
Others view it as a form of DIY biology and can refer to exploring biology in non-institutionalised settings and engaging in amateur science experiments, like homebrewing insulin or exposing the body to low-level electromagnetic frequencies. And for some, biohacking means integrating technology into our biology to advance the human species (referred to as grinding), as is the case for thousands of Swedes, who have had multi-purpose microchips injected into their hands.
Is biohacking for me?
When answering this question, it’s important to remember one thing: biohacking is a spectrum of activities that puts you, as a biological being, into the driver’s seat. Whilst you may not be keen on the idea (or expense) of getting a young blood transfusion or augmenting your body with technology, you can take advantage of universally beneficial biohacks that have been proven to support your innate human biology. For those looking to safely dip their toes into biohacking, here are our top five favourite basic biohacks that can be implemented each and every day.
Top 4 Basic Biohacks
- Be picky about the foods you eat.
In an age where food products and convenience foods have often replaced whole foods and home-cooked meals, consciously choosing what and how you eat is one of the best ways you can support your biology.
Modern science and ancient Chinese medicine agree: finding the “right” foods for your body will vary based on your genetics, metabolism, lifestyle, health history, preferences, culture, and needs. However, research currently points to eating a diet rich in plant-based and minimally processed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and seeds for overall health and longevity. To get even more out of the foods you eat, a growing body of research suggests applying mindfulness practices — like those found in Qigong — to your mealtimes to promote healthy eating habits and better digestion.
- Get serious about your sleep hygiene.
A solid night of sleep does more than make you look refreshed the next day. In addition to helping you ward off disease, high-quality sleep allows your body to produce the proteins it needs to repair itself from damage. A good night’s sleep also helps reduce stress, improves your cognitive function, and prevents mental health issues.
Like Qigong and ancient Chinese medicine, sleep biohacking guides you to connect with nature’s rhythms. To biohack your sleep, experts recommend that you reset your circadian rhythms by becoming mindful about your light exposure throughout the day. Whilst bright lights and sunlight are recommended early in the morning and throughout the day, too much exposure to artificial light in the evening can unbalance your natural sleep cycle.
Your sleep environment and bedtime activities are also a crucial component of successful sleep biohacking. In addition to creating a relaxing bedtime routine, experts encourage that your sleeping area is completely dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool. Regular physical activity, such as Qigong, can also help improve how well you sleep.
- Spend time in nature (AKA, “rewilding”).
At its core, basic biohacking is all about reconnecting with nature. In a study that reveals how beneficial spending time in nature is for one’s overall health and wellbeing, study co-author Professor Andy Jones commented:
“We often reach for medication when we’re unwell but exposure to health-promoting environments is increasingly recognised as both preventing and helping treat disease.” The importance of spending time in nature is not lost on biohackers, who often refer to it as “rewilding.”
Whilst spending too much time indoors is associated with insomnia and anxiety, spending time in nature is correlated with improved mental health and clarity, and a reduced risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Spending time in nature also appears to foster similar benefits to mindfulness, including focus and relaxation, which can be further heightened when a mindfulness practice, like Qigong or meditation, is practised outside.
- Move your body every day — barefoot.
Given that your biology is built for movement, it’s no wonder that your body and brain thrive with regular physical activity. Though the movement that came from your ancestors’ nomadic hunter-gatherer past is no longer relevant, your body’s need for varied movements and movement-intensities remains the same.
Falling along the rewilding vein, biohackers recommend adding earthing to your physical activity routine. Also known as grounding, earthing is the practice of going shoe-free (or wearing minimalist shoes), to allow your feet to fully connect with the surface beneath you and the Earth’s energy field. Barefoot movement practices, such as Qigong, allow you to experience your surroundings through your feet, which have over 7,000 nerve endings each!
Qigong for biohacking
With its ability to help you develop mindful habits, improve sleep, reconnect with nature, and experience the moment through your feet, Qigong is an easy-to-learn form of biohacking with numerous potential benefits for your biological wellbeing. Whilst the term biohacking only made its debut in a Washington Post article in 1988, Qigong has been aiming to help humans tap into their highest potential for 5,000 years.
Though there’s still much to learn about the safety, usefulness, and applications of biohacking, experimenting with ways we can effectively enhance our biology and upgrade our human potential is worth exploring. To learn more about Medical Qigong and its link to optimum wellbeing, read more on our blog, download an ebook, or register for one of our complete online courses.