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Biohacking - The Brighter Side of Health

Written by Huda Qadir · Wednesday 5th February 2014

2014 is already more than a month old (if you can believe it) and with each passing day, the world we live in is speeding towards breakthroughs in every sphere of life. We're running full tilt, wanting to be bigger and better than we were the day or the hour before. Every passing day reinvents the 'cutting edge' of technology, including medical progress and advancement. Gone are the medieval days when doctors were considered all knowing deities, while medicine consisted of leeches being used to drain 'bad blood'. Nowadays, health isn't just about waiting around until you pick up an infection, then going to your local GP to get treated; in today's world it's all about sustaining your wellbeing. And for that, the new kid on the block is biohacking.

Biohacking is the art and science of maximizing your biological potential. As a hacker aims to gain complete control of the system he's trying to infiltrate, be it social or technological; similarly a biohacker aims to obtain full control of his own biology. Simply put, a biohacker looks for techniques to improve himself and his way of life. Before you let your imagination run away with you and start thinking of genetic experiments gone wrong, let me assure you that a biohack is really just about any activity you can do to increase your capabilities or advance your wellbeing. Exercising daily can be a biohack. So can doing the crossword or solving math sums, if it raises your IQ by a few points or improves your general knowledge. What characterizes biohacking is the end goal and the consequent modification of activities to achieve that goal.

So what kind of goals would a biohacker have? World domination? Not quite. Adding more productive hours to the day and more productivity to those hours? Check. Eliminating stress and it's causes from their lives? Check. Improving mood, memory and recall, and general happiness? You bet.
So the question arises; aren't we all biohackers of sorts? After all, the above mentioned objectives are what everyone aspires to achieve in their lives at one point or the other. unfortunately for all the lazy people out there (including yours truly), biohacking involves being just a tad bit more pro active than just scribbling down a list of such goals as New Year resolutions!

There are two main approaches to selecting a biohack that works for you- the biggest aim and the biggest gain. The biggest aim would be targeting those capabilities, an improvement in which would greatly benefit you. This could be as specific as improving your public speaking skills or as general as working upon your diet so you feel more fit and alert. In today's competitive, cut throat world, even the slightest edge can ensure that you reach the finish line first.
The biggest gain would be to choose a technique that is low cost- in other words, one that is beneficial yet doesn't burn a hole through your pocket!

It isn't possible to give a detailed description of all the methods pioneering biohackers have initiated, but here are some general areas that you can try to upgrade in your life:

  1. Hack your diet- They say you are what you eat. Your energy levels are related to what you eat, when you take your meals, the quantity you consume etc. your mood and mental wellbeing is greatly affected by your diet. I could go on and on, but this point is self expanatory. You need to hack your diet! Eat healthier and live longer.

  2. Hack your brain- Our minds are capable of incredible things when they're trained to function productively. Had this not been the case, you and I would still be sitting in our respective caves, shivering and waiting for someone to think long enough to discover fire. You don't have to be a neuroscientist to improve your mental performance-studies show that simply knowing you have the power to improve your intelligence is the first step to doing it.

  3. Hack your abilities- Your mindset often determines your capacity to rise to a challenge and your ability to achieve. For instance, if you're told that you can't achieve a certain goal because you're a woman, or because you're black or you're too fat or too short, well obviously you're bound to restrict yourself in a mental prison of your own shortcomings. But it's a brave new world so push yourself further. Try something new, be that tacking on an extra lap to your daily exercise routine or squeezing out the extra time to do some volunteer work. Your talents should keep growing right along with you.

  4. Hack your age- You might not be able to do much about those birthday candles that just keep adding up...but you can certainly hack how 'old' you feel. Instead of buying in on the notion that you decline as you grow older, look around you. Even simple things such as breathing and stamina building exercises can change the way you age.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and to those around us to live our lives to the fullest. So maximise your potential, push against your boundaries, build the learning curve as you go along. After all, health isn't just the absence of disease but complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and biohacking seems to be Yellow Brick Road leading right to it!