What is ‘Natural Biohacking?’ And how to Start A Natural Health Hack Practice of your Own
What is Biohacking?
Increasingly recognized as a movement in wellness thanks to the “father” of biohacking Dave Asprey, who defines ‘biohacking’ as ‘the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside of you to have full control of your health.’ The word has been added to the Cambridge English Dictionary, accompanied with the definition ‘an attempt to improve the condition of your body and mind using technology, drugs or other chemical substances such as hormones’.
Rightly or wrongly – and like everything in the world of wellness – biohacking can range from the extreme and expensive to the natural and accessible – meaning that if you’re keen to try a little sci-fi style self-care on your soul, there is likely something that will work for everyone.
According to Tony Robbins, in the simplest term, biohacking is, ‘essentially the practice of changing the chemistry and physiology of our bodies through science and self-experimentation to energize and enhancing the body by implementing lifestyle and dietary changes that improve the functioning of your body.’
These ‘lifestyle changes’ can cover anything and everything from simply eating more oily fish to the extremity of targeting and editing your genes – along with the likes of wearable technology like a Fitbit, getting an appropriate level of sun exposure, intermittent fasting and adopting a sustainable health diet. – The latter points being where biohacking, consciousness, spirituality and primal living weave together seamlessly and form the basis in both the way I live my life and coach others to do the same, for the benefit of their optimum health.
These definitions and examples are, of course, very broad, but to me, that means that there are endless possibilities rooted in an idea that we are capable of changing our minds and bodies to become better, happier, healthier, and more efficiently functioning versions of ourselves.
My Chemical Romance
For those of you who don’t know when it comes to my wellbeing, I am a firm believer in quality over quantity, Primal Health Principles (i.e. adopting ways of living derived from our genetic blueprint and ancestral heritage for optimum health) and what the intention is behind everything that you do.
As such, my personal take on biohacking is to be selective in adopting health hacks that truly work for you and to focus on natural biohacks, combining ancestral wisdom learned as part of my Primal Health Qualification with natural sciences.
Our bodies were, after all, designed to be healthy and function as efficiently as possible – modern-day living can make us very lazy as we have literally everything at our fingertips, available (for the most part in these times) 24 hours per day – but done in a natural way, we can and should be controlling out internal and external environments to optimize our health.
In making small, incremental diet or lifestyle changes, over time you can make small improvements in your health and wellbeing, which means you don’t only feel better, younger, and more agile in mind, body, and spirit, but you look it too! And who wouldn’t want a chronological age of 40, but a biological age of 30.
Basic Biology: My Top Ten Tips to Naturally Hack Yourself Back to Health
1. You’re Sweet Enough Without Sugar! Adopt an elimination diet by removing refined sugar, industrial oils, and processed food from your diet!
2. Get your Fats Straight: Knowing your nutrition is key, along with knowing the difference between good fats and bad fats. We should be eating plenty of veggies – and these can even be lathered in grass-fed butter – along with getting plenty of grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, and low-mercury fish (like wild sockeye salmon), moderate starches and fruits seeds and nuts.
According to Dave Asprey, creator of the Bulletproof brand and the Bulletproof Diet, you can become a ‘fat-burning beast’ once you train your body to burn fat rather than carbs – therefore carbs need to go and be replaced by healthy animal fats and non-stretchy vegetables
3. Fast Love: An amazingly effective way to biohack your diet is by starting a daily intermittent fasting practice. It may sound daunting but it is quite straight-forward to fast for 12-16 hours each day, and when you can, aim for longer.
So, when it comes to biohacking your diet, it’s not just about abstaining from sugar, eating carb-light meals, and getting the right kinds of fats; it’s also that when we eat makes a huge difference as well. Intermittent fasting will not only help you lose fat but also gain muscle and energy.
When you fast, you increase your levels of growth hormones as much as five times their normal rate, which boosts your metabolic rate. Fasting can also reduce your insulin resistance, which lowers your blood sugar and makes stored body fat more accessible to burn.
While there are many versions of intermittent fasting, the most user-friendly is the “16/8” method, which revolves around a straightforward structure in which you restrict your daily eating period to eight hours. For example, each day you eat from 1 pm to 9 pm, and fast for the other 16 hours.
4. I Like to Move It Move It! Try both foams rolling and moving your body. Move as much as possible, and by that, I mean don’t become a gym rat! There really is no need to work out for extensive amounts of time instead of move often and adopt primal functional movements, which include pull up, push up, sprints and planks, into your day as much as possible.
Rather than condensing your movement/exercise into one dedicated period of time, make plenty of time in your day to walk, jump, run, push, pull, and play.
Use your Sundays as the day to dedicate to outdoor natural movement such as playing Frisbee or combining a run with push-ups in the park. You could move with a tribe and join a volleyball team, sign up for yoga or Pilates classes, and if you want to take your movement medicine down an even more spiritual path, you can try Qi Gong or Osho Shaking Meditation.
Essentially, whenever possible, move your body; and if you want to try something really fun – as we could all use a little more fun as adults, then why not bounce on a trampoline! Many mini-trampolines are available online and great for the lymphatic system.
In addition to movement, do DIY deep tissue massage by rolling over muscle to loosen tight spots on your fascia. Spend 10 minutes foam rolling each day. If you do not have a foam roller you can use a tennis ball on back/glutes and golf ball for the sole of your feet. Simple and effective. Move often and do not stay all day sitting. If you can foam roll before sleep to release any tensions.
5. Give yourself a natural high: In this busy, modern era where most of us are more connected to the concrete jungle than the great outdoors, it’s all too easy to forget the holistic healing powers that a walk in the woods, a dip of the toes in the ocean or a little sunshine on your face – in short, mother nature – can have on our souls.
Put simply, human nature and our instinctive survival mode mean that we move away from discomfort and towards comfort as much as possible. Yet however hard we try it is completely unrealistic to be comfortable all the time. Trying to achieve permanent comfort is and can be harmful to our health; our bodies are perfectly designed to overcome stress and endure – this makes us stronger and more resistant.
My invitation to you is to go out to nature in an unconventionally comfortable setting: go into the cold. Feel the freeze;, don’t run away from the ice-cold immediately. Surrender to it for a moment. Experience extreme heat. Feel the sun. Feel the strength of the wind. Acknowledge the rain and don’t avoid it instantly.
Be with the elements and forces of nature. Surrender to them to surpass your own limit and push your body to do what it’s naturally designed to do best – thrive and respond to different exposures, feel the joy of being alive with nature around you.
6. You’re Hot Then You’re Cold: Following on from my point about getting in nature, I do enjoy using the extremities of nature for natural health hacks on my body. For example, getting a suitable amount of sunlight is great for increasing your Vitamin D levels (actually a hormone, not a vitamin), and practices like ice bathing are incredible for your mindset, presence, and resilience.
7. Breath outside the box: Box breathing, also known as square breathing, is a technique used when taking slow, deep breaths. It can heighten performance and concentration while also being a powerful stress reliever. It’s also called four-square breathing.
Four-square breathing involves exhaling to a count of four, holding your lungs empty for a four-count, inhaling at the same pace, and holding air in your lungs for a count of four before exhaling and beginning the pattern anew. Over time you can increase this count to 5, 6, 7… second holds.
8. Protect those Baby Blues from the Artificial Blues: Blue light interacts and affects your circadian rhythm and your quality of sleep. I understand that sometimes we all have to work late, and that with the best intention in the world, we can find ourselves working on our laptops, in bed before we go to sleep.
So, while I would always advocate not bringing a screen to bed, and not using your screens (laptop or phone) for at least an hour before you sleep; it you really do have to use work before bed, then you can try biohacking glasses, although the natural rout
e of switching off all artificial lights an hour before you sleep, to help you benefit from a fully restful 8-hour quality sleep with low light exposure, would be my suggestion.
9. Get Your Daily Meds: By this I mean, meditation. I’ve come to learn and believe that we are truly the masters of our physical, emotional and psychological well-being; and that to keep these three plains of existence healthy relies on good habits, consciousness and mindful attention to every moment in the day – which is why it makes sense to start your day with a mindful morning routine, or a daily meditation practice, to set you up for a healthy happy day – and life – ahead.
Meditate daily, expand your mind and creativity by allowing day dreaming and, where possible, incorporate sound healing. Sound healing is a beautiful way to heal and a natural way to biohack yourself better as sound enhances your positive emotions. I like to listen to sound healing recordings by whole tones.
10. Biohack your mind with an attitude of gratitude: How we view life has a huge effect on our moods, how we treat others, and our general levels of fulfillment. When you have an abundance mindset, you’re consistently grateful for everything that comes your way and is always focused on the positive. Having a gratitude practice every day is a great way to optimize your mind health.
Having a hard time adopting this type of perspective? Changing your mindset is really about nothing more than practice. You need to consistently refocus your brain to see the positive in every situation until it becomes second nature. These biohacking techniques and tools can help:
A gratitude journal in which you write three to five things you’re grateful for helps you reframe the day to focus on the positive and reflect on all the good things that happen to you.
- Take a gratitude walk where you give thanks and send positive energy to every living thing you see. If you walk to work or take a morning jog, you can easily incorporate this into your normal routine.
- Write a weekly letter of gratitude to someone who has helped you or who means a lot to you. It could be a family member, a long-lost friend, or even a co-worker who always remembers to stock your favorite coffee.
- Begin the day with a ritual, such as meditating, and set an intention to be grateful for all you encounter.