Biohacking, also known as human augmentation or human improvement, is a self-made biology whose goal is to improve performance, health and well-being through strategic interventions. Some common biohacking techniques, such as meditation and intermittent fasting, have existed since ancient times. Some biotricks are backed by solid scientific evidence and are likely to be beneficial. Often, these are the ones that have been tried and true, refined over centuries of experimentation.
For example, clinical trials have shown that mindfulness meditation can help reduce anxiety and chronic pain. There is no single way to hack yourself. Biohacking involves all aspects of human life, including nutrition, exercise, sleep, and mental health. In extreme cases, what some would call a true biohack is more than just a basic and healthy life.
Biohackers want to make their bodies and brains work better by hacking their biology. The BBC's Victoria Derbyshire program brings together people who are introducing technology into their skin, adopting extreme diets and trying to change their DNA. Keeping track of what you eat and eliminating foods that cause health problems from your diet is a safer form of biological hacking. A subgroup of biohackers called Molinders goes so far as to implant devices such as computer chips in their bodies.
The biohackers I spoke to said that restrictive regulation would be a counterproductive response to biohacking because it would only make the practice go underground. We'll tell you what biohacking is (and what isn't), the types of biohacking and the benefits and risks of following this trend. Do-it-yourself (DIY) biology, also known as synthetic or home biology, is a type of biohacking that focuses on experimentation and knowledge sharing. Since it can cover a dizzying range of activities, I am going to focus mainly on biohacking, defined as the attempt to manipulate the brain and body to optimize performance, outside the scope of traditional medicine.
Many biohackers use intermittent fasting to promote optimal performance, such as Jack Dorsey of Twitter, who reportedly only eats once a day. Popular biohacking concepts, such as calorie restriction, have long been used to prevent age-related health problems. Even so, understanding the different types of biohacking and the benefits can help you modify your tricks for better results. Zayner, the biohacker who once injected himself with CRISPR DNA, has also had health problems for years, and some of his biohacking activities have been explicit attempts to cure himself.
According to a recent study published in The Journal of Trends in Biotechnology, biohacking is a self-made citizen science that merges body modification with technology. For example, instead of using stem cell injections to promote muscle growth (which may not work), take a biohacking supplement before training, such as Transparent Labs' Pre-Workout PreSeries BULK. This homemade biohacking, of course, can go very wrong: Rich lifts his legs out of his pants to reveal a selection of scars from implanted shin pads that swelled so much that they had to be removed, which he did with pliers and without painkillers. As biohacking begins to appear more frequently in the headlines and, recently, in a fascinating Netflix series called Unnatural Selection, it's worth clarifying some of the basics.
Some biohackers believe that by taking advantage of technology, they will be able to live longer but stay younger.