The word “biohacking” is garnering tremendous attention these days. The term has gained prominence in tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Los Angeles’ Silicon Beach, where innovators are actively looking for ways to hack our body’s genetic code through supplements, exercises, apps, diets and a variety of “smart” devices.
Although the focus of health is often placed on what we eat, biohacking also emphasizes the power of training your mind to optimize your health and performance. Here’s a quick primer on biohacking and some mind hacks popular among the biohacking enthusiast crowd.
What is biohacking?
Biohacking is this process of “hacking” your genetics and biology with tools that help you perform at your best. The biohacking industry is made up mostly of products like sensors, “smart” devices, tests and supplements designed to help you optimize your performance based on your unique genetic code. The U.S. is the largest global market for biohacking. Europe is a close second, and the Asia Pacific region is expected to drive biohacking’s exponential growth in the coming years.
Biohacking with gratitude
Although gratitude might seem a bit “touchy feely” to some, science shows that this daily practice has a positive impact on your physiological, physical and emotional health. Taking a few minutes out of each day for a gratitude and forgiveness exercise could have a meaningful effect on brain function.
Journal for five minutes each day and write down what you’re grateful for. Doing so can increase your happiness and help you recover from stress with ease. In fact, several studies have found that the “grateful brain” is linked to improved decision-making, a positive attitude and a boost in productivity.
As a bonus, grateful folks are often seen as more likable by their peers, so this journaling habit could help you foster stronger connections with others—another indicator of increased longevity.
Nutrition and biohacking
What we eat has a lot to do with how our brains function. Diets high in refined sugars and processed carbs end up leaving both our bodies and minds feeling sluggish. Foods like fatty fish, nuts, blueberries, turmeric and coffee all work to keep the brain running smoothly.
If you need some extra help figuring out what to eat, try reading the book The Perfect Health Diet by Paul and Shou-Ching Jaminet. The book is considered an essential resource for biohackers looking to optimize their brain through the power of nutrition. Although its philosophy is somewhat paleo-centric, the book also takes a larger look at the link between what we eat and how it affects our brain and body.
Aside from focusing on good fats and plenty of blueberries, brain-boosting supplements can help you improve your focus and energy levels. What you choose to take depends on your unique genetic code and health goals. Some people look toward nootropics, “smart” drugs that work to enhance brain function, while others stick to supplements like omega-3-rich fish oil and amino acids. For a more specific biohacking meal plan, invest in genetic testing and work with a specialist to help formulate the ideal diet for your genetic code.
Another key tool in the biohacking world is heart sensors. Your heart’s rhythmic activity has been linked to stress and negative self-talk, providing a powerful barometer for understanding when you need to implement some mindfulness hacks. A longtime leader in heart tracking and research, The HeartMath Institute provides a number of simple devices that analyze your heart rhythm, and provide exercises to help you get back into balance.
The WellBe is a wearable that takes stock of daily stressors—think calendar notifications, meeting reminders, texts and emails—and uses these data points to tell you about your stress levels. If you’re finding that dealing with phone calls stresses you out, for instance, the WellBe will send you notifications so you can relax ahead of time.
A favorite mind tool in the biohacking world is hypnotherapy, which has been shown to help people overcome phobias, grief, stress, self-esteem and a variety of other issues that hold them back from productivity and happiness. And here’s the best part: you don’t have to pay a hypnotherapist to reap the benefits of hypnosis.
HelloMind is an app aimed at helping you break the mental patterns that have been holding you back by setting up a dialogue between your conscious and subconscious selves over the course of 10 sessions.
Biohacking isn’t a substitute for visiting a doctor when things are “off” in your body or mind. But by tapping into the mind-body connection, these biohacking tools can help you make meaningful progress on the quest to quiet your mind and improve your performance.