In today’s society, we are constantly looking for shortcuts for everything we do. From time management to stress relief to healthy living, we are looking for “hacks” to make our desired results come more easily. But can you really hack your way to better health?
With biohacking, yes. While this may sound intimidating, it’s actually pretty simple. In fact, most of us are probably doing some form of biohacking already. In short, biohacking is the process of making small lifestyle changes to optimize your body’s natural biological functions. You can achieve this through science and experimentation, finding which hacks work best for your body. Biohacks can be as simple as implementing diet and lifestyle changes or using wearable technology such as a FitBit.
Below are six simple steps you can take today to biohack your way to better health. It is important to note, this is not intended to replace the medical advice from a physician or to diagnose or treat any conditions.
1. Diet and nutrition. With so many diets out there, it can be overwhelming to pick one that’s right for you. I’m a fan of elimination diets such as Whole30. The basic concept is to eliminate common food groups such as dairy, alcohol, sugar and grains that commonly cause inflammation in the body, and focus on whole foods such as organic meats, fresh fruits and vegetables. After a 30-day period, slowly reintroduce each group to see if it causes any adverse symptoms. While weight loss may result, it is not the main goal of an elimination diet.
2. Sleep. We all know how important sleep is to our health. But are you really getting enough, and is it restful? Improving our sleep is probably one of the easiest, and cheapest, things we can do to increase our health. Simple adjustments – such as removing TVs, cell phones or other electronic devices from our rooms – tend to have a huge impact on our quality of sleep. Also, keeping your bedroom a few degrees cooler and investing in blackout curtains are small hacks to help.
3. Get up and MOVE! Most of us live sedentary lives. Raise your hand if you sit at a desk the majority of the day. Our bodies weren’t designed, for this and as a result, our health suffers. This is why weight gain among desk workers is so high. If this is you, make an effort to get up and move once every hour. A simple way to incorporate this is to walk down the hall to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
4. Energetic state. The other cool thing about movement is it increases our energetic state. When you are in a higher state of energy, you retain more information, you absorb information better, and your mood increases. Next time you are feeling low energy, throw on your favorite song, have a quick dance party and see your energy rise! Also, if you have to give a presentation, speech or take a test, try putting yourself in a higher energetic state first and see how much better you perform.
5. Meditation and journaling. A great way to reduce stress is to start a daily meditation or journaling practice. Meditation has a wide range of benefits, from reducing pain and increasing sleep quality to boosting productivity. It is also a great way to manage stress and anxiety. The connection between mind and body is huge, and establishing a daily meditation practice is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health.
6. Get outdoors. Most of us spend a majority of our time indoors. Try to spend more time outside! Walk to the mailbox, take a stroll around the block, go hiking on weekends. Not only does this increase vitamin D levels, but it also allows you to connect with nature and enjoy a slower pace.
Remember, your health is both mental and physical, so be sure to take care of both! It’s just as important to take steps to ensure your mental well-being as it is to keep your physical health in shape. If one is suffering, the other will too. Biohacking can be a fun way to play around with your body’s biology to see what makes you feel your best.
Thanks to Jenell Consorti, Business Office Manager at Cary Orthopaedics’ Davis Drive Physical Therapy office and a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist, for contributing this article.