from the lab

Biohacking 101: Is it Worth the Hype?


 Biohacking has become one of the most talked about topics in the wellness industry in recent years. It seems as though there are new ways to “hack” our bodies that emerge each day, all with new claims as to how it can make us more fit, more focused, and beyond. But let’s not allow the word hacking to scare us. We’re here to clear the air on what biohacking really means, and what we can actually do to make our brains and bodies healthier.

Biohacking, explained.

Biohacking has become known as “do-it-yourself biology,” where individuals look to find shortcuts through nutrition, science, hormones, or other tools they find to alter their health and/or cognition, going so far as to consider the end goal becoming “superhuman.”  Biohacking combines the culture of accessible scientific knowledge and “hacking” culture to circumvent traditional methods of improvement by approaching the human body as a system.

Are methods of biohacking really just tenets of healthy living?

Some methods of biohacking are simpler than others. Many practice meditation in order to engage with certain brainwaves to boost focus or sleep (you can learn more about that here). Other methods include following standard dietary recommendations while getting adequate exercise and sleep, however positioned with a trendy, technology-savvy name such as biohacking.

While all of these — meditation, healthy diet, exercise, and sleep — are key to a healthy body and mind, branding them as “biohacking” can merely be a way to grasp more attention for seemingly novel approaches that have actually stood the test of time.

“Theres a lot of salesmanship and a lot of hype. Since the ancient Greeks, people have been trying to improve health. Calling it hacking is just putting a techy, 21st-century name on it.”  — Marc Hellerstein, Professor of Metabolic Nutrition at UC Berkeley (source)

When biohacking goes too far

Many biohackers integrate technology, supplements, and fad dieting into their approaches towards creating a body absent of weaknesses. Some go so far as installing magnets and computer chips into their bodies, practicing intense fasting, and experimenting with intentional sleep deprivation (which will never be a sustainable option for healthy living). Biohacking has made its way into the field of nootropics, too. While nootropics are an excellent way to maximize brain health, many biohackers are creating or finding supplements on the black market which leads to many dangerous risks.

Where do we go from here?

It’s easy to get caught up in the eye-catching headlines of the latest biohacking trends, but it’s important to do your research on whether these are safe, reliable options for your health. Many of the claims made by biohackers use crowdsourcing data with little oversight rather than scientifically vetted studies, which makes viewing these articles with some skepticism necessary. Some are absent of research altogether.

We can also be drawn to certain lifestyle and health suggestions made by biohackers that are seemingly novel and cutting-edge, however are merely already confirmed facets of healthy living. We can’t emphasize enough how much simply consuming the right nutrients, sleeping well, and exercising can do for a healthy body and healthy brain — no trendy “hacks” necessary.

Scientifically-sound formulas are critical when evaluating supplements and nootropics. Watch out for outrageous claims made, such as “brain pills to make you smarter” made by the “best biohackers.” Finding formulators that are medically educated will ensure quality and safety.

Getting proper supplementation through quality ingredients and formulas are key to a healthy lifestyle (we should know!). Want to live your healthiest life yet? Skip the hacks and go straight to the science.

Thoughts on this post?