In recent years, biohacking has become increasingly popular. However, despite the term’s popularity, many people still need to learn what biohacking is. In its simplest form, biohacking is the practice of enhancing physical and mental performance using science, technology, and dietary adjustments. Biohackers are the pioneers in this field, testing various methods and devices to enhance their general health and well-being so others can learn should they so choose.
Biohacking contributes much to the health and wellness field, but it’s not a space to explore lightly. Discover what biohacking is, what to consider before hopping on a biohacking trend, and who should try biohacking—or avoid it altogether.
What is Biohacking?
Biohacking is an all-encompassing term of practice to improve physical and mental performance through technology, medical innovations, supplements, gadgets, and apps. Different methods range from simple (such as spending time in nature) to cutting-edge (like getting technological implants).
Biohackers want to optimize their control over their health while increasing their capabilities. Pioneering biohackers often go to extremes unsuitable for most people, and anyone starting any biohacking method should consult with a trusted medical professional to ensure optimal safety and results.
The Principles of Hormesis
As functional medicine doctors, we encourage our patients to shy away from stress. It’s one of the root causes we identify and address when helping our patients bodies’ heal from the inside out.
However, there’s actually science showing that small doses of stressors—called “hormetic stressors”—amp up the body to promote positive health changes.
For example, a sauna session heats up your body, exposing your cells and tissues to stress as they speed up their processes. However, this hormetic stressor boosts your body’s circulation, filters toxins through your sweat, and amps up your immune system. At Spectra Wellness, we provide forms of hot therapy (like a sauna) and cold therapy (like an ice bath) as part of our biohacking guidance.
Hormetic stress (AKA biohacking) techniques actually benefit your body when administered strategically and in a safe way. As with any level of stress, too much will do more harm than good. Don’t just jump on the intermittent fasting train after reading one article on the internet—you may end up throwing off your hormones and depriving your body of nutrients. That’s why it’s best to have the oversight of a medical professional to ensure your body is truly getting the benefits of hormetic stress.
Examples of Biohacking
The world of biohacking is vast, offering a wide array of answers for anyone wondering what biohacking is. Depending on your personal performance goals, there’s likely a biohack that can help you achieve them. Here are just a few of the more popular and well-known examples of biohacking:
1. Intermittent Fasting
Alternating periods of fasting and eating to achieve weight loss.
2. Cold Plunges & Heat Therapy (Saunas)
Used to boost metabolism, immune function, and circulatory health.
Cognitive performance enhancing supplements.
4. Sleep Optimization
Using various techniques to increase the quality of sleep (i.e. blue-light blocking glasses, powering down screens, meditation before bed, etc.) and proper tools to track what is working.
Using various techniques such as nature bathing or meditation to adjust your thoughts and general everyday experiences.
Using supplements to optimize the body’s functions through vitamins and minerals.
Leveraging heart rate and brainwave feedback through technology. This feedback can consequently be used to create personalized biofeedback strategies.
Is Biohacking Safe?
While biohacking has many benefits, it must be approached in a thoughtful and informed way. Some biohacking techniques are considered safe for most people. These techniques include spending time in nature, exercising, intermittent fasting, hot or cold therapy, and reducing screen time. However, no two people are the same, and health comprises a complex network of considerations. Before embarking on a biohacking plan, always consult a trusted health professional—such as a functional medicine doctor—to explore potential risks.
Who Is Biohacking Good For?
Biohacking can be supportive to anyone, but it specifically benefits people who want to optimize their health and performance, including entrepreneurs, athletes, and busy professionals. People living with chronic health conditions often start researching what biohacking is because it can be helpful for symptom management and health improvement. In fact, many functional medicine health treatments are considered biohacks themselves—even though they’re proven health strategies grounded in science. Spectra Wellness Center uses biohacks like red light therapy to enhance our patient’s health. In fact, we consider biohacking a part of preventive medicine and are passionate about identifying appropriate biohacks for our patients.
What Are Biohacking Risks?
When approached improperly, biohacking carries serious risks—including nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, and other damage. Your goals and health history weigh heavily on what techniques are appropriate for an individual. Biohacking has a lot to offer, but only if carried out properly by conducting research and consulting a healthcare professional. Piece-mealing together a biohacking plan from the internet is ill-advised.
Who Should Avoid Biohacking?
While biohacking is beneficial for many, it’s not for everyone. Some individuals may be at a higher risk of negative health effects from certain biohacking techniques. An example would be a person recovering from anorexia should not try intermittent fasting. Pregnant and breastfeeding women must exercise caution with biohacking techniques that could compromise the fetus’ health.
Anyone with pre-existing medical conditions or concerns should also exercise caution when biohacking. While biohacking can help with pre-existing conditions, it’s important to avoid exacerbating them.
How is Functional Medicine Related to Biohacking?
Functional medicine focuses on treating the root cause of disease, not the symptoms. This requires an individualized approach to healthcare, just like what biohacking is. Another similarity between biohacking and functional medicine is they both combine holistic medicine with current advances in science and technology. The combination is a robust hybrid that helps patients pull from various modalities for effective strategies for healthcare.
Anyone wondering what biohacking is and if functional medicine can help implement it will find it’s a genuinely symbiotic match. At our functional medicine clinic in Tampa, we’ll be happy to sit down with you to answer any questions about what biohacking is while exploring ways biohacking can help you achieve your health and wellness goals. In fact, we’ll be able to guide you through our menu of biohacking services in Tampa to see if they can help you safely reach your health goals!
To get started, contact our office for an appointment. We look forward to helping you with your biohacking health journey!