Health really shouldn’t be that hard, but the human mind is wired to seek the ever-more complex solution. The final frontier is the next frontier for us. You’ve undoubtedly heard the term “biohacking” thrown around as it’s gained great momentum over the past few years, largely popularized by Dave Asprey the Bulletproof Exec. It’s basically a fancy term for Type-As experimenting with new contraptions, electrical stimulation devices, heat therapy, cold therapy, and other such widgets and practices (guilty as charged). Rather than share with you all the money I’ve wasted on biohacking products (which I’m open to doing pending request) I wanted to tease out for you the top six biohacks or health hacks that are worth your time, money, and effort.
Leading with the appropriate disclaimer, you are not obliged to do all or any of these on any consistent basis. View them as extra credit upgrades for your health, as best your time and doll-hairs permit. In fact, if you really want to get 80% of the way there simply follow these requirements:
“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” – Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food
You’re much better off starting there, but if you feel like you have the foundation, let us begin.
1) Fermented Foods
Simply put, fermented foods=probiotics=improved gut health and gut bacteria=improved holistic health. You have a few options here, including homemade kombucha, sauerkraut, and kefir. Homemade requires more time but is much more cost-effective, so find your balance/preference. If making your own fermented foods is too daunting and/or you have the disposable income, make a trip to Whole Paycheck to start incorporating into your diet on a weekly basis.
2) Bone Broth
Bone broth raises the dead. It’s also received huge hype, but the research backs it up. From improved joint health, digestion, immunity, hair, skin, to pretty much any health benefit imaginable, bone broth delivers. Try adding to your slow cooker/Crock-Pot, or warm up and drink as a standalone. The two best bone broth vendors I’ve found for grass-fed and no added preservatives are The Flavor Chef and Kettle and Fire. If you want to price-hack Kettle and Fire, order through Thrive Market.
3) Organ Meats
Fun and tasty? No, but damn good for you. Organ meats (heart, liver, and kidney) are one of the few food sources of harder to come by essential nutrients, like vitamin A (not beta-Carotene). If you can clock in with these at least once a month, you’re doing well. The convenient thing about fat-soluble vitamins is that your body can store them up. Get your fat-soluble vitamin A for the proverbial winter. My reliable organ meat assurance plan is the beef liverwurst from U.S. Wellness Meats – a mixture of grass-fed beef trim (50%), liver (20%), heart (15%), and kidney (15%). If anyone knows how to make organ meats more palatable than lazily throwing it in a slow cooker with sea salt and pepper, I’m all ears.
4) Cold Thermogenesis
The harder the nipples, the better you’re doing it – that’s a true fact. Submerging yourself in cold for a brief period of time is a form of eustress, flippantly defined as good stress. Similar to the concept of working out, you are subjecting your body to external stressors, prompting your body to rebuild and recover that much stronger. Options for cold thermogenesis run plentifully: cold showers (most accessible); a dip into a cold pool, lake, or ocean; Cryotherapy; or pretty much any environment below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Build up to 20 mins or so for a whole host of benefits, most interesting being the development of brown fat/adipose tissue which increases your metabolism to turn you into a fat-burning machine.
5) Heat Therapy
The opposite and equivalent of cold therapy/thermogenesis. Same eustress concept, with slightly different yet still buzz-worthy benefits, like detoxification and skin purification. A dry sauna is preferred over the steam room and Far Infrared Sauna is better than the traditional dry sauna. Marginally less crazy than it sounds, if you are die-hard about your health, detoxing, and heat therapy, you can purchase your own Far Infrared sauna. Just be sure to go with a low-EMF sauna so you don’t microwave yourself with damaging electromagnetic pollution. The best I’ve found is the Clearlight Infrared Sauna. If you’d like more information on sauna and detox benefits, protocols, and options, check out the Sauna Therapy Detox Facebook Group. To prove my insanity whilst showing I practice what I preach, below is a photo of my Clearlight Infrared Sauna jammed into my San Francisco apartment – so much room for activities! Bonus tip: heat and cold therapy work well in tandem, so bounce from one to the other (i.e. sauna session straight to cold shower).
Grounding, earthing, forest bathing…as long as you are in some way in touch with or exposed to nature, you will reap the benefits. Science is now proving what we know to be obviously true: if you lock people in concrete and noise-polluting jungles (#citylife) their stress and cortisol rises, but going on a hike or getting in touch with nature is the simplest antidote to reverse these deleterious effects. Even smelling pine measurably lowers one’s cortisol. Free, fast, fun, go outside, find your nature, and take off your shoes.
Give a few of these biohacks a shot, and track as best your can your own improvement in energy and well-being. If there’s one life pillar to double down on, it’s your health, in my less than humble opinion.
What other biohacks or health hacks have you found to help? Let’s learn from one another.