Even if you haven’t heard the word biohacking, you must have encountered some version of it. Maybe you have seen the CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, extolling the benefits of intermittent fasting and drinking salt juice each morning. Maybe you have read about the former NASA employee, Josia Zayner, injecting himself with DNA using gene-editing technology CRISPR. You might have heard about Bay Area folks engaging in dopamine fasting. All these are some forms of biohacking, a broad term for a lifestyle that’s becoming increasingly popular.
Biohacking, also called DIY biology, is an extremely broad term and covers a wide range of activities, from performing science experiments on yeast or other organisms to tracking down your sleep and diet to altering your biology by pumping a younger person’s blood into your veins hoping that it will fight to age. Depending on whom you ask about biohacking, you will get a different definition. Since it encompasses a dizzying range of pursuits, we look at biohacking as an attempt to manipulate the brain and body to optimize performance outside the realm of traditional medicine.
On a basic level, biohacking comes down to something that we can all relate to - the desire to feel better and see just how far we can push the human body. This desire comes in a range of flavors. While some people don’t want to feel sick, others want to be as smart and strong as possible for as long as possible, basically extending their life span.
There are certain concrete hacks that you can use yourself right now to go from sick to healthy or healthy to enhanced. Dave Asprey, a computer security guy, calls himself a biohacker as he hacks his own body. He has received attention both online and at conferences. He has used biohacking and new technical measurement tools, and a low toxic coffee to alter his cognition, weight, and general health. Today, it's not only about him, as many people are trying various biohacking techniques.
Some forms of biohacking go far beyond traditional medicine, and others bleed into it. Plenty of age-old techniques such as meditation and fasting can be considered a basic type of biohacking. Going to a spin class and taking antidepressants also fall into this category. What differentiates biohacking is arguably not that it's a different activity genre but that the activities are undertaken with a certain mindset. The underlying philosophy is that we do not need to accept our shortcomings but can engineer our way past them using a range of high and low-tech solutions.
Biohacking nootropics are substances in natural, supplement, food, or beverage form used to increase cognitive function. This includes your mood, attention, and productivity span.
Biohacking nootropics are huge in Silicon Valley, and many venture capital-funded firms are focused on nootropics. You may have already tried a biohacking nootropic which is caffeine. Other widely used nootropics include piracetam.
In food or drinks, biohacking nootropics are usually safe unless consumed at high levels. For instance, too much caffeine can cause caffeine overdose. Medications used as biohacking nootropics can be dangerous unless used as directed by medical professionals.