The latest buzzword in the healthy lifestyle world is ‘Biohacking’. But before we get to what that is all about, we need to rewind a little.
The Truth About Our Nutrition Today
It is no secret that in the past century, our diets have changed tremendously. And its not just the obvious things like added sugars and processed food. Consider the variety of foods. 100 years back our diets included more than 100 different foods. Today, three main crops feed 60% of the world’s population. And when there is variety in food, it is either genetically altered, made in a lab and devoid of nutrition. Plants are bred to be more palatable and digestible, Basically less bitterness from phytonutrients, more sugar and less fiber.
The Truth About Our Agriculture Today
Modern farming practices bring fertilizers to keep fields productive years on end. There are no resting periods for the fields, no crop rotation and no national spring irrigation. There is just not enough complex nutrient in the soil for the plants to absorb.
Take for example, Magnesium and Selenium. This pair of vital minerals that is abundant in healthy soil is no longer present in plants. Estimatedly, 70 to 80% of the population do not get enough of these two minerals, the result of which is increased anxiety, sleeplessness, nervous disorders. the list goes on.
So Where Does Biohacking Come In
Nutrition experts are aware of how our food impacts our bodies in so many ways and are trying to understand how we can hack what is available to the benefit of our health. Biohacking is the term being used to describe dissemination of applied physiology, exercise, nutrition and lifestyle change to improve your quality of health and overall, wellbeing.
To make it clearer, Biohackers reject the idea that the only approach to avoiding disease and leading a healthier life is to eat less and exercise more. What separates biohacking experts from the other self-improvement gurus, is a systems thinking approach to their own biology. It is not as simple as reducing the caloric intake, what you put into your body also matters as much. Of course, this isn’t something new or unheard of, so that’s the thing. Biohacking is just a sci-fi name given to a completely common principle. Putting that principle into practice is what makes the difference and what separates biohackers from the rest of the followers of ‘diets’.
Biohacking And Its Types
This is a diverse area and there are types of biohacking of which not all are related to nutrition. These include:
- 1: Biohacking your sleep pattern
- 2: Biohacking your movements
- 3: Biohacking your risk-taking levels
- 4: Biohacking your bone health
- 5: Biohacking your connection with the outdoors
- 6: Biohacking your brain and mindset
The possibilities are endless, but they all root from the idea that we can change our bodies and brains, and that by doing so, we can ultimately become smarter, faster, and healthier versions of ourselves.
Biohacking Your Diet
Today we are talking about biohacking your diet. The science that focuses on how food interacts with your genes is called Nutrigenomics. The idea behind this diet biohacking is that our body’s complete genetic expression can be mapped out by understanding how different nutrients affect our health. This mapping can then be used to draw out an optimal diet plan for ourselves. It also gives us a glimpse into how different nutrients alter our feelings, thoughts, and behavior.
While there are several biohacks that edge on the verge of bizarre, (Neurohacking technologies, genetic implants and the like), there are some that require you to incorporate more realistic and natural changes to your diets.
Nutrition Biohack # 1 Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is probably the oldest biohack used by humans. While fasting may seem like an extreme step towards better health, intermittent fasting works wonderfully by giving your gut a break and allowing it to process toxins out of the system without being overloaded by incoming food every few hours. There are many variations of intermittent fasting diet you can choose from but the way it works is basically the same. Under fasting circumstances, the body undergoes ketosis, a process where fat is utilized to create energy, rather than using glucose, which is the case when we are eating. Read more about Intermittent fasting here.
Nutrition Biohack # 2 Try Elimination Diet
Identifying food intolerances and sensitivities is especially important when it comes to reducing inflammation. Chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of brain fog, decrease performance, depression and reduced mental agility. To biohack your mental wellbeing, you need to figure out what is causing inflammation in your body and the elimination diet is best for this purpose. Through this diet you basically eliminate suspicious foods that may be causing uncomfortable symptoms. These foods are later re-introduced slowly, while looking for any reactions your body may exhibit.
Elimination diet used as a biohack may alleviate symptoms like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and leaky gut syndrome. More importantly, your improved health will result directly in better moods, mental agility and performance. Always consult a physician before reintroducing suspicious foods back in your diet as they may trigger a more serious reaction.
Nutrition Biohack # 3 Cut Out Sugar
Sugar consumption has increased ridiculously over the past century. This rise can be linked directly to the availability of boxed and canned foods. Cutting out sugar will primarily mean you cut out most processed foods that carry not just sugar, but a whole cocktail of unhealthy additives. But be aware, going cold turkey on sugar can give you some serious cravings and withdrawal symptoms, as sugar really is addictive! Biohacking sugar out of your system will lead to longevity, reduced inflammation, and better liver health.
Nutrition Biohack # 4 Add More Fiber
The presence of processed foods in our diet has resulted in one more thing. Low bacterial diversity, associated with the Standard American Diet (SAD), has been linked to inflammation that causes autoimmune disease, cancer, dementia and more. It all boils down to inadequate fiber. Fiber feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Biohacking your fiber would mean you get at least 25 grams of fiber a day. There is no way you can reach this goal if your diet consists of processed inflammatory foods. Foods high in sugar can greatly affect gut flora, feeding bad bacteria and forming dysbiosis. Aim for high quality fibrous fruits, leafy greens, and healthy fats. Include a portion of high-quality protein. Instead of counting calories, count nutrients.
Nutrition Biohack # 5 Include Superfoods Like Medicinal Mushrooms
If you think we are going to ask you to drink mushroom tea, you are about right. Medicinal mushrooms have been adopted by eastern medicine for millennia and have finally come back full circle to heal us. Medicinal mushrooms cannot be eaten raw or whole and so you will find them easily at health stores in powdered form. This can be added to your morning smoothie, to a hot drink and even into some vegetable stir fry.
Medicinal mushrooms have been studied to have positive affects on brain health, immunity, nerve health, prevents oxidative stress, eases depression and anxiety. Want to know which mushrooms to take for which ailment? Read more about them here.
Nutrition Biohack # 6 Optimizing Vitamin D Absorption And Vitamin D Supplementation
Yes! Vitamin D is the one that you get from the sun. So, vitamin D is a fat-soluble steroid hormone that controls the expression of over 1000 genes in our body, and bone formation. The UV B radiation from the sun helps synthesize vitamin D and the presence of healthy fats encourage optimal absorption of the vitamin. While you may be getting exposed to ample sunshine every day, there are several factors that may inhibit the amount of vitamin D that our body produces.
- Sunscreen blocks the radiations needed for Vitamin D synthesis.
- As we age, our body becomes less efficient at producing vitamin D.
- Excess body fat stores the vitamin D, hence reducing the ability of your body to use it.
- The melanin content of your skin acts as a natural sunscreen.
- Clothing bars UV-B radiation from reaching your skin
Vitamin D tracker apps help understand when there is sufficient UV B radiation given out by the Sun where you live. Using these apps, you can make the most off your time spent in the sun. Incase you are on the more deficient side, a Vitamin D supplement is a good option to improve your levels.
While advanced biohacking can cost your thousands and can feel right out of a sci-fi movie, basic Biohacks are common and necessary health facts that we tend to ignore till our bodies begin to bear the brunt. By following these biohacks along with good, restful sleep, low stress levels, and regular exercise, we can all stay youthful, energetic and focused for years to come.