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What is biohacking with practical examples

What is biohacking

What is 'biohacking' - and more importantly, what does it deliver? In this blog, we explain what biohacking entails using several examples. Concrete and practical!

Biohacking: a brief explanation

As a biohacker, you take charge of your health. In doing so, you make use of the latest science, combined with experiments on your own body. In a nutshell, biohacking is about understanding what your body needs to function optimally, resulting in: looking good, weight control, anti-ageing, improved resistance, mental performance and energy.

In biohacking, there is no one size fits all. Every body is different, so that means every body also needs something different. You can go deeper and deeper into different elements, but you don't have to. That is the beauty of it. As a biohacker, you turn the knobs yourself and you are the inventor of your health.

In the LiveHelfi biohacking toolkit, we distinguish 8 different principles that biohackers find important:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Movement
  3. Sleep
  4. Neurotraining
  5. Cold therapy
  6. (Red) light
  7. Supplements
  8. Radiation

LiveHelfi Biohacking Framework

This tool palette helps you work towards and manage an optimal lifestyle.

Measuring is knowing

Besides hacking and testing, wanting to measure everything is a very important trait that characterises every biohacker. This is how you know if the things you are doing are taking you in the right direction.

You can measure performance by keeping a diary, recording your state before the biohack and your state after the biohack. Many biohackers also use tech tools like a heart rate monitor, pedometer, smartwatch, body scan or Ouraring in the process.

Tracking and measuring is the key to biohacking. If you don't measure your performance, you won't really know what works for you and it will be difficult to progress effectively.

What can you biohack?

There are countless things you can biohack. We explain the most important ones below. Hopefully you will learn something from it - and who knows, maybe it will inspire you to start biohacking yourself!

Body as a Factory

1. Nutrition

Everything you put into your body affects how you feel, look and behave. Health and fitness experts agree that nutrition is responsible for as much as 90% (!) of weight loss and body composition.

Biohacking your diet can contribute greatly to your health. Following a certain diet can affect your health, well-being and mood. Try eating as little processed food as possible while playing around with your diet: chances are good that this will quickly produce good results.

Keep varying your diet is crucial to finding out which diet works best for you. As we said, every body is different, so there is no such thing as one diet that is best for everyone.

Some nutrition biohacks

  • Eating food from the season
  • Eating unprocessed foods
  • Intermittent fasting (IF)
  • Bulletproof intermittent fasting
  • Ketogenic diet
  • Fermented foods
  • Taking specific supplements
  • Avoiding carbohydrates at lunch
  • Measuring nutrition

Measuring nutrition is tricky. If you really want to get it right, force yourself to keep a daily food diary. Give this a chance for at least two months: this is the period you need to learn enough about food and gain insight into your eating habits.

If all goes well, after two months you will know approximately how many carbs, calories fats and proteins are in the food you consume. After those two months, of course, it's still nice if you keep recording everything neatly, especially if you experiment with different diets.

Accurate measurement with an app

So keeping track is the first step. But how do you do that accurately? To help you, numerous free food tracking apps exist. MyFitnessPal or Cronometer are good options.

Besides tracking how much food and nutrients you take in, the key is to record how you react to the food. One way to do this is to measure your heart rate before and after eating.

Performing a blood test will help you if you want to go deeper. You can have this done, but it is also possible to take a blood sample yourself to find out what your ketone and glucose levels are, for instance.

2. Exercise

Our bodies are meant to move. Not to sit at our desk and stare at a screen all day. Besides taking the recommended 10,000 steps a day, it is good to keep your body moving and challenged in other ways.

Some exercise biohacks

  • Buy or make a standing desk
  • Move for 5 minutes every hour (walk, squats, push-ups)
  • Find a hobby that involves exercise, such as sports
  • Go outside more for a walk in the fresh air

Measure movement

Keep track of your movements and exercise sessions in a diary. Knowing how you performed yesterday, last week or even last month will help you determine what you need to do today to optimise.

Buy a scale and track your weight, but be careful here: muscle weighs more than fat. Keep that in mind when using the number on the scale as an indicator.

Better to get scans that measure values such as bone density, body fat and lean muscle tissue. Often, these scans can also identify how much fat is around your organs. All these factors say much more about your health than weight alone.

Pedometer and HRV

Another effective way to measure your movement is to use a pedometer. You can use your phone, a smartwatch or other wearable for this.

If you exercise a lot, then your HRV (heart rate variability) is a very important indicator of recovery. Learning how to track and monitor your HRV helps with stress, sleep and recovery during your workout. There are apps that give you scores, tell you if you need to step up a gear or just slow down.

3. Sleep

Sleep is one of the best things you can do to improve your mood, be happier and feel better. Are you not getting enough sleep or is the quality of your sleep poor? Then that can have far-reaching consequences on your health, both mentally and physically.

As a biohacker, the challenge is to get the highest possible quality of sleep, regardless of how long you spend in bed. Where one person needs eight hours of sleep, another manages to fully recover with nights of just four to six hours of sleep.

Apart from how long you sleep, it is interesting to look at how you can improve the quality of your sleep.

Some sleep biohacks

  • Wear special glasses that block blue light in the evening and at night
  • Get lamps in your home that have little to no blue light
  • Make your bedroom as dark as possible
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time
  • Eat your last meal as early in the evening as possible
  • Avoid coffee after 2 pm

Measure your sleep

You can measure your sleep using your smartphone app. This is cheap, easy and accessible to everyone. We recommend SleepCycle.

Want to go into more detail and be sure of the most accurate data possible? Then it's worth buying a wearable sleep tracker. These often track more than just sleep and track all sorts of data that will make you very happy as a biohacker.

Some options:

  • Oura Ring
  • Whoop
  • FitBit
  • Sleep monitors such as Beddit

4. Neurotraining

A big part of biohacking deals with hacking your brain. To get started with this area, you don't necessarily need to use new supplements or buy crazy gadgets: you can very easily experiment on your own.

Through neurotraining, or neurohacks, you can hack your brain and train it to get better. This way, you enable yourself to better use and even increase the power of your brain. Neurotraining can help with a variety of factors related to cognitive functions, such as:

  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Focus
  • Motivation
  • PTSD
  • Depression
  • Addiction

Learning new skills helps form new pathways in the brain and contributes to the growth of brain cells. You can learn a language, as well as a musical instrument or other skill, read non-fiction books or take an online course to challenge your brain.

Some neurobiohacks

Meditation

Meditation can lower stress levels, help you sleep better and ultimately make you a better person because it induces profound changes in your brain functions. Recent studies showed that meditation can have a positive effect on attention, memory, verbal capacity and cognitive flexibility. Good meditation apps include Headspace or Waking up (by Sam Harriss).

Routine

Sticking to a morning and evening routine can have a powerful impact on your cognitive functions. Sticking to a routine releases mental processing power and allows you to use the freed-up computing power for other tasks.

Measuring neuroactivity

You can make tracking your cognitive performance as complicated as you want. Depending on how seriously you want to take it, there are a number of aspects of cognitive performance you can test and measure:

  • Reaction time
  • Executive function
  • Verbal learning
  • Motor skills
  • Visual perception
  • Short-term memory
  • Attention
  • Planning
  • Problem solving

You can hack the above aspects on your own initiative, but there are also several websites to support you in this.

Whatever you do: with everything about biohacking, it is important to keep a diary and record consistently:

  • How you feel physically
  • What your mood is (what emotions are you feeling)
  • How your basic cognitive functions are doing

5. Cold therapy

Cold therapy is an important biohack if you want to make your body stronger and more vital. In cold therapy, the cold acts as a stressor. As a result, you trigger different processes in your body that have a positive impact on your health.

You can apply cold therapy quite easily by taking a cold shower or going into an ice bath, for example. Even after 30 seconds under a cold shower, you can experience health benefits.

Benefits of cold therapy:

  • More energy
  • Strong mindset
  • Better lymph circulation
  • Fat loss through burning
  • Activates 'brown fat
  • Strengthens immune system
  • Improves circulation
  • Reduces inflammation: extra in combination with breathing exercises
  • Sleeps better and faster (in the evening)
  • Promotes deep breathing, at the moment of cold exposure itself
  • Brings body and mind into balance

Some cold therapy hacks

Actually, cold therapy is a hack in itself. You can use this hack to boost various things. As mentioned above, there are several ways to do that.

Cold shower

A cold shower can already be good for experiencing various health benefits. If you want to start cold showering, we recommend you first take a cold shower for a few days. Start with half a minute, then a minute - and so you keep building it up, until eventually you are under the cold jet from start to finish.

Tip: turn on the cold tap all at once (or the hot tap all at once) when you take a cold shower. Then you will literally get a boost and taking that cold shower will have the most impact.

Ice bath

Want to take it a step further? Then consider replacing the cold shower with an ice bath from time to time. This may be a little less easy to apply, but, on the other hand, produces amazing results.

Nowadays, more and more places exist where you can go to sit in an ice bath. You can also create one at home by, for example, filling a lying freezer with water and chilling it to just above freezing. Note that an ice bath is for advanced users. If you want to start with it always do so under the guidance of an experienced instructor first.

Wim Hof

Chances are you've seen this name pass by before. Cold training is ideally combined with Wim Hof's breathing technique. With this technique, you completely saturate your blood with oxygen, which favourably changes the chemistry in your body.

Thus, energy generation becomes more efficient, your body can handle heat and cold better, for example - and even suppress inflammatory reactions.

6. Red light therapy

Red light therapy (RLT), also known as photobiomodulation, uses light as a tool to improve your body's healing ability and function. RLT usually uses specific factors of red and infrared light. Think of certain frequencies, irradiance and energy density.

Want to know more about what exactly red light therapy is, what it is good for, how to choose a suitable red light device and what we recommend about red light therapy? Then read this blog: 'Red light therapy - Why and how?'.

7. Supplements

Supplements can be thought of as the lubricant for an engine that works well. If all goes well, you can get most of your nutrients from your healthy diet. Supplements you can then use to tune up further.

So a supplement is not some magical panacea. It is important that you yourself have your basic health in order before a supplement can do its job properly.

Supplementing nutrients

You can hack nutrition to a certain extent, but in today's society it is becoming increasingly difficult to get enough of certain vitamins and nutrients.

Collagen, for instance, is found in bones and cartilage. But when do you still eat an animal from head to tail? There are people who make homemade bone broth, but not everyone is into that. Organ meat also contains valuable nutrients, which we lack due to our current diet. Fortunately, you can easily supplement these deficiencies by taking supplements.

Today's world has changed enormously from decades ago. Nowadays, we face many more and more frequent challenges to our health. Nutritional supplements can help.

  • Globally, mineral content in soils is decreasing, and with it the quality and nutritional values of food.
  • Extreme increases in exposure to pollutants and pollution of air, water and food.

Other examples where supplements are interesting are: if you are under a lot of stress, have to deliver large outputs, during or after illness.

Nootropics

What we can recommend in addition to nutritional supplements is the use of nootropics. These contain substances that can support your brain functions. In addition, these supplements are suitable for long-term use. Nootropics, or nootropics, are a great addition to a good diet and allow you to really 'upgrade' yourself, so to speak.

Although nootropics are sometimes called smart drugs, they are not drugs. They won't get you high, won't make you hallucinate - and you certainly can't get addicted to them. Think of it as an enhancer of your cognitive ability: nootropics improve your mental performance on multiple levels. Think of clearing up brain fog or improving your concentration.

You will find various nootropics in our webshop. Wondering what they can do for you? Feel free to take a look at the Nootropics page.

Want to read more about biohacking? Then take a look at our other blog articles.

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